Back to Basics: How Marketers Can Move Past Online Content Pollution, and Avoid Contributing to the Problem.

“As to methods there may be a million and then some, but principles are few. The man who grasps principles can successfully select his own methods. The man who tries methods, ignoring principles, is sure to have trouble.” 

The above quote is attributed to efficiency expert Harrington Emerson, who popularised the concept of scientific management, which analysed and synthesised workflow. Though he died in the early 1930's, many of his principles are still in use and taught in business classes today. Emerson's theory of efficiency and principled thinking focuses largely on the idea that if one wants to master the fine, intricate details that make up the world of business (be it traditional print marketing or new, digital marketing that focuses on engaging users online), one need to have a firm grasp of the basic qualities that separate a consumer within the target market of one channel from the consumers of a different company, media outlet, or product. 

At no time in history has the concept of returning to the principles of marketing and target market research been more relevant than in today's society of endless interconnectivity. While there are an endless number of marketing methods that can effectively reach your customers in the online sphere, there is a growing trend of brands and marketers alike feeling tempted to produce as much content as possible, spread across a multitude of platforms. An attitude valuing quantity-over-quality has gripped the world of digital marketing by its throat, as brands continue to churn out as much content as humanly possible with little strategy. Effectively, the principles of marketing have been thrown out the window as even the most seasoned of experts figures out how to navigate this new world of online content creation by throwing an endless amount of jumbled ideas into production and "seeing what sticks." The end result is often very little. 

This phenomena, which we will dub "content pollution," is perhaps a natural result of the massive amount of noise now being created online thanks to the spread of social media. In previous years, advertisers could count on there being relatively little competition for consumer's attention thanks to the high cost of entry. After all, the mom-and-pop owned grocery store would never have enough money in the 1970's to run a television advertisement alongside the latest ad for Coca-Cola. Today, all one needs to become an online influencer and to command the attention of an entire sphere of potential customers is a smartphone with a camera. 

Naturally, this has lead to a huge influx of content; coupled with the rise of social media, nearly everyone you meet is an influencer or content creator in some way, even if the only thing they are creating is a rogue Facebook status or Let's Play video. This new culture of noise has thrown marketers into a frenzy, many of whom are equally new to this new world of constant connection. Seeing themselves as "competing" with everyone from other brands social media teams to the everyday man posting on Twitter for the amusement of his friends, the temptation is strong to produce as much content as possible- how else can one effectively fight back against this endless stream of noise being put into the digital world?

The key lies in returning to our principles as marketers- the principles of targeted advertising, knowing your customer base, and understanding the different users in each individual content consumption outlet. There's no need for your brand to contribute to the clutter and waste time and money with incongruent marketing. As a marketer, take the time to refresh yourself on who your average customer is, and read up on the differences between social media outlets and channels. One or two well thought out digital advertising campaigns will always be endlessly more effective than posting generalised content to every platform available. After all, there are a million effective methods- but you, as the expert in your customers, will be the only one who can determine which will work for you. 

Arnt Eriksen