How to Handle the Flood of Data and Content Headed Our Way

flood of data

I recently attended Social Media Marketing World, so my head is aflood with all kinds of great information. Judging by author and social media expert Mark Schaefer’s session, “The Future of Social Media: What Businesses Need to Know,” information is the name of the game for the foreseeable future.

In his session, I was floored to hear that by 2020, data will increase 600%, 75% of which will be created by consumers, not companies. We’re consuming 7x the content we did a hundred years ago. But man! How can we possibly handle more without getting what Schaefer calls “content shock?” How can companies even hope to make a splash in that high volume of data?

The Secret to Standing Out

Schaefer says the secret is:

“You don’t have to be the best. Just be first and awesome.”

He went on to talk about how brands can shock and awe their audiences:

  1. Find an unsaturated niche.
  2. Build an aggressive strategy based on keywords.
  3. Never stop.

In other words, it’s the constant diligence of producing content and being on social media that will effectively help your brand swim upstream. Or at least, that’s what I took away.

Leverage Influencers

Schaefer also talked about finding influencers who can also help you get your audience’s attention (as did John Jantsch in another session). He calls it “borrowing a bigger pipeline,” which essentially means finding those people who are talking about your industry (or even your products) and connecting with them to have a bigger impact.

He suggested using a tool like Appinions, which identifies influencers in a given market and helps you measure your own influence online.

Don’t Sweat the Big Content

In an era where it seems blog posts are getting longer and longer, Schaefer contradicted this trend by saying not  to worry about producing big chunks of content and instead focus on atomizing your content.

Tools like infographics and Vine make it not only easy to create smaller, more manageable bites (not bytes) of data, but also make content more appealing to consume.

“RITE”ing Great Content

Schaefer closed his presentation by giving advice that doesn’t just apply in the future as it relates to content marketing, but also right now. He said that content should be:

  • Relevant
  • Interesting
  • Timely
  • Entertaining

He stated:

“Power comes from content that moves.”

It’s not enough to simply put content on your site. It’s got to do its job in attracting your audience and engaging them.

My Takeaways

Given that I am a content marketer, this presentation hit home. It’s daunting to consider how much more content we’ll have online in the next few years, but getting a handle on it now will help us continue to engage readers for our brands.

He inspired me to consider how I can inject fun into my content marketing, as he said being entertaining is definitely a must-have in terms of great content. Not every blog post or whitepaper has to be serious and educational.

I’ll be rethinking every article and aiming for his requirements of being “RITE.”

Flood Photo via Shutterstock


Susan Payton Susan Payton is the Communications Manager for the Small Business Trends Awards programs. She is the President of Egg Marketing & Communications, an Internet marketing firm specializing in content marketing, social media management and press releases. She is also the Founder of How to Create a Press Release, a free resource for business owners who want to generate their own PR.

8 Reactions
  1. I agree. I have seen so many bloggers focus too much on their content that they forget how to promote their content. The magic is in the promotion.

  2. Naomi@business start ups

    Hi Susan,

    Thanks for sharing some of what you learnt from Mark Scharfer. I was recently told by an industry leader that we will be drowning in content by 2016. I think the float has already began.

    I just try to appeal to readers as individuals. As though I’m talking to them only, as a friend. And to give a good useful take away action.

    By the way… Love the image you used


    • Naomi–
      I can see that we will be flooded with data. I just hope we figure out how to manage it before then.

      I can’t take credit for the photo! My editor put it in.


  3. Interesting and very relevant to some research I’m doing with DCU (Dublin City University) Invent, Ireland.

    I’ve been tasked with conducting a survey with people who purchase digital content (photos, graphics, video, feature articles, etc.) for business purposes (advertising, marketing, publishing, news, etc.).

    I am particularly interested in people who buy content from image/content libraries such as Getty Images, Corbis, Alamy, Shutterstock etc. and smaller, niche online libraries. We are looking to get insights into the what, where, when, how, why etc. of content purchasing.

    Unfortunately, my contacts in this group of content buyers are limited and I was wondering if any of you would kindly pass on the link to the survey to anyone you may know in that field (it’s anonymous).

    I am more than happy to share the results of the survey and have left space for people to provide their email address at the end of the questionnaire – a copy of the results will be sent to those who do.

    If you can help, or know anyone that can, the link to the survey is here:

    Many thanks,


  4. Susan, thanks for the recap, for those of us that couldn’t be there this year. I find that consistency, having an authentic point of view, delivering solutions and building and nurturing a following are all important. I couldn’t agree more about the importance of promoting and sharing content, especially with those that have an interest in it.

  5. Yes it is true that promotional activities shouldn’t be sidelined rather all stress needs to be given on output than input version. As it is a fact too that handling too much of data is a headache for most of us, due to which the work suffers many a times.