The term content shock describes a development in which more and more, at times also high quality, content is being produced by an ever-increasing number of creators. The consequence is that there is an endless supply of content on the net, which users are being inundated with, so that the information in total is no longer consumable.
Users react to the flood of content, both consciously and unconsciously, with various protection and filter mechanisms. Among these are, for example, changes in media use behavior, additional personal/human filters, algorithms, fake profiles, minimal interaction, Facebook abstinence, ad blockers, etc.
The term content shock was originally coined by the US-American marketing specialist Mark Schaefer. Schaefer mentioned content shock in his blog while calling attention to the possible consequences of content marketing on the Internet: Companies increasingly focus on valuable content. As a result, web content will at some point gain the upper hand – it will no longer be read and users will be oblivious to it.
Schaefer bases his theory of content shock on the economic concept of supply and demand. With the ever-increasing breadth of content available on the web, and a limited number of consumers with a finite amount of hours in the day to consume content, supply is quickly outpacing demand. And this is happening to a greater or lesser extent across all types of industries.
While content shock can be a serious challenge for those providing the content, it can prove a boon to the customer. More and better content allows consumers to be more selective about what receives their attention and where they engage.
Supply being greater than demand leads to the supplied commodity becoming less valuable. To the operators of homepages, e-commerce businesses and blogs, this would mean that the effort to create and spread quality web content would be disproportionate to the benefits they receive from doing so.
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Content shock can be counteracted with a well-balanced, strategic mix: Approximately half of the work effort ought to go into marketing, and the other half ought to be made up of unique content that distinguishes itself from other homepages. Providing relevant, evolving content puts the burden of combating content shock onto one’s competitors.
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