Content Marketing,  Copywriting

What the 2016 Presidential Election Has Taught Us About Content Fatigue


Sex scandals.

War scandals.


If your Facebook newsfeed looks anything like mine, it’s cluttered with posts about the 2016 Presidential election – and none of it looks good.

Some of your friends are die-hard Trump fans. Others are she-can-do-no-wrong Hillary supporters. And still many of them are so sick of both candidates they’re ready to move to Canada, or build a bunker, or buy ALL THE GUNS while setting up a self-sustaining property so they can move off the grid and away from the political antics.

No matter what side of the aisle you fall on, if your newsfeed looks like mine, you’re exhausted with the politics.

There are only 6 full days left (including election day) before we see which person will take over the White House and until then, we need to keep sifting through (and sometimes also sharing) the political posts.

This is called content fatigue and it goes way beyond the Presidential election.

Content fatigue is the exhaustion you feel from all of the content online right now.

It’s also sometimes known as content shock, which is a term coined by the author Mark Schaefer. In his words, this term means:

The emerging marketing epoch defined when exponentially increasing volumes of content intersect our limited human capacity to consume it.”

In other words, our heads are about to explode from all the noise.

Still, we’re called on (by people like myself) to be prolific content creators. As business owners, we’re advised that content is the absolute best way to attract a crowd of people to your business.

  • It’s how you capture people in the first 60% of the sales process when they’re looking at what you offer before you ever know they’re in the market;
  • It’s how you bolster your brand to show that you really do know what you’re talking about and doing so you can earn trust. 
  • It’s how you get people to like you by showing off your brand’s human side and building that connection.

So what is it? Create more? Create less? Where do you fit in among all the content online?

It’s a tough question. The more stuff that gets piled on top of the content marketing mountain, the harder it is for brands to climb. You’re doing the work, but showing up on page one or getting your posts seen in the newsfeed is harder than ever before.

To scale the content mountain faster, some brands have taken to using sleazy tactics, including (but not limited to, sadly):

  • Adding clickbait headlines for the sole purpose of generating traffic. Nevermind that when the curious people actually get there, the content doesn’t live up to its hype.
  • Posting autoplay videos on websites to hopefully stop the person in their tracks and MAKE THEM LISTEN. The problem is, the only reason the person is stopping for your video is to shut it off. She’s so annoyed that you interrupted me that she’s not even hearing what you have to say.
  • Bombarding email inboxes with messages, because if someone didn’t open your message before they must not have seen it! It has nothing to do with the amount of value your audience perceives your brand to have.

Unless you’re creating content between two ferns like Zach Galifianakis, if you’re using sleazy content marketing tactics, your content sounds more like another political commercial than something that’s actually entertaining.

The result? Your audience lets out a groan every time something new is published.

It’s clear that something has to be done, but what?

It’s possible to resonate online without sounding like a worn out political message.

Here’s how.

Stop looking sideways.

A lot of the noise happens when you copy what others are doing online. The political commercials we remember the most aren’t the ones that are most like the other party’s commercials. They’re original, poignant, and often times, entertaining.

Take this one for example. It’s from a local campaign here in Arizona.

Using a dog to win over people’s hearts? Not original.

Talking about your accomplishments in Washington as a politician? Not original.

Combining the two with some fun outtakes? Original.

Lesson learned: You don’t have to be a copycat to use methods that have been proven effective. Boomer (Martha McSally’s dog) is well-known around our corner of the country (especially in Vail, Arizona, where I live because she’s one of our neighbors) so seeing him on TV with her was like seeing a favorite celebrity. He caught our eye and we listened up.

Branch out.

Recently, one of my favorite bloggers – Gini Dietrich at Spin Sucks – wrote a great post about how Donald Trump used digital marketing in his campaign. Go check it out to see all of the details. It’s well worth your time.

The biggest takeaway from a content marketing standpoint was this: You can’t just talk to your fans and expect to get ahead. You have to branch out a little bit and talk to the undecided folks.

As Trump’s campaign dug into the details of his marketing efforts they noticed something – he was only speaking to his supporters. He already had their vote. To win, he needs to steal votes from the other side. And to do that, he needs to target the people who still haven’t cast their ballot mentally or physically.

After building an extensive system, the digital marketers found 13.5 million undecided voters in 16 battleground states. By focusing on the type of content that was best suited for his audience, they were able to acquire email addresses for the undecided voters and target them through more personal channels away from all the noise of the traditional television commercials.

Who are the undecided voters in your industry? Can you use your content to cut through the noise they’re experiencing and give ’em a message they’ll actually want to hear?

Have a laser focus on your audience – not any other metric.

Often, when content feels like a burden to create, or when writer’s block sets in, it’s for one reason. You’re not focusing on your audience. Instead, you’re focusing on you.

Suddenly, you’re creating content that makes you look good instead of providing any real value. You use clickbait headlines to inflate your traffic numbers (while at the same time inflating your bounce rate). You use autoplay videos to inflate the number of views you receive (while at the same time annoying your audience).

When you focus on the wrong metrics, you’re ignoring the point of content marketing, which is to get your audience to know, like, and trust you. 

Have a laser focus on your audience and the traffic, likes, shares, comments, etc. will come…

… because when you make people fall in love with you, no one will be exhausted by what you say. Instead, your audience will hang onto your every word because it’s uniquely interesting and immensely helpful.

One Comment

  • Martin Lindeskog

    Kimberly: Have you voted yet? 😉 I look forward to the post-election and I will create a podcast episode with an analysis of the election and outlook for the days, weeks, months and years to come… 🙂

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