As a professional journalist this has been a question that I've struggled with over the past five years since leaving the Financial Times.
I can produce a lot of media content, and hopefully, it is all quality media content. But my concern is that if I produce too much it will cause my readers and subscribers to switch off because there is too much from one source.
I know that if some of my sources are too noisy on Twitter, Facebook, even on their blog or web site, I will switch them off because it is too much -- even if all their content is good. I don't want my readers doing the same to me.
This question of how much media is too much media is not just my concern, it should be a concern for others, especially companies. I've been writing about how every company is a media company, (EC=MC - the transformative equation for business) how every company has to get better at producing, distributing and responding to media content.
Media is important in establishing companies in their field, it is important in establishing their thought leadership. If you aren't seen by your potential customers then you don't exist.
But we have a media tsunami washing over us and this media tsunami is becoming ever larger as more people and companies discover how to produce ever more media. How do you stay relevant when there is an ever larger media tsunami crashing all around us all the time?
Do you produce more media? Do you add to the media tsunami hoping that your media will be seen as opposed to competitor's media?
The same questions apply to online advertising. And in online advertising the principle seems to be that more is better than less. That's why we are inundated with advertising that crawls across our screens blocking what we want to see; advertising that takes up ever more space on our displays; and advertising embedded in links in copy.
But there is a lesson here. More advertising is leading to less value per advertisement. More advertising is reducing advertising income for many online publishers because there are more places to advertise. More means less.
Does that apply to content? Does more media equate to less value? If a company produces too much media will that tire and turn off potential customers? There were 87 Old Spice videos in one day. Too much? Not enough?
I think it is too much. I think that dealing with the media tsunami with your own media fire hose is the wrong approach.
No one is listening...
I think there is a very good lesson to be learned from a recent incident where Leo Laporte, a popular broadcaster, found that his Twitter stream wasn't broadcasting his Google Buzz posts. It took him two weeks to notice but he was upset that no one else noticed.
It makes me feel like everything I’ve posted over the past four years on Twitter, Jaiku, Friendfeed, Plurk, Pownce, and, yes, Google Buzz, has been an immense waste of time. I was shouting into a vast echo chamber where no one could hear me because they were too busy shouting themselves. All this time I’ve been pumping content into the void like some chatterbox Onan. How humiliating. How demoralizing.
This incident perfectly describes the media tsunami problem.
Louis Gray, who recently became VP of marketing for My6Sense, an Israeli based startup, wrote about Mr. Laporte's problem. He says it is an issue of engagement.
The person who shouts the loudest can get a lot of attention over a short time, but shouting is hard to listen to for long periods, and it is hard to sustain. You cannot replace engagement, true conversation, a give and take of ideas, and an exchange with a real community.
I agree that engagement is great if you can get it. But the media tsunami means that engagement becomes diluted.
Louis Gray has noticed that "many blog posts are getting no comments to fewer comments. Tweets are not getting replies. Shares on FriendFeed and Google Buzz that once got conversations in times of heightened awareness are lying fallow. Photos on SmugMug and Flickr are getting fewer views."
I think the answer lies right in front of Louis Gray and us all. I think that the right content will come to find us and not the other way around. If you create the right content, relevant to a person, it will find its way to them.
If you focus on creating media content that is relevant then it will find its way to the right people. And that will be true for advertising too.
The technology to do that is already here and available from several sources: My6sense, Genieo, and others. These are self-organizing filters, self-organizing curators of content that will bring you the right content at the right times.
We are still at the early stages of deployment but these technologies will come because they can, and because it is the only way to deal with the media tsunami.