Content has reached saturation point and with plenty options to personalize the individual user experience, the appetite for organic sharing is plummeting.

The ‘Content Shock’ predicted by Mark Shaefer two years ago is here. Shaefer saw it coming when the sheer volume of content being published to the internet outweighed our limited capacity to consume it. And this is just the beginning.

Estimates are that content will grow online by 500% over the next decade.

At the same time there is a growing trend that not only is there too much to consume, audiences are not sharing the content they do view.

In a recent study of 1 million articles by Buzzsumo, 50% received just 8 shares or less. Another study by AgoraPulse on 8,000 Facebook pages found that 70% of companies experienced a 30% drop in organic reach over the last year. This fall in earned media is an alarming development. When coupled with a drop in paid media as consumers increasingly exhibit adaptive habits such as banner blindness and technology allowing consumers to skip paid advertisements, digital marketers must also evolve new methods of audience development as a precursor to content creation.

As publishing becomes increasingly niche, communities of deeply engaged audiences are flourishing. In the face of content overwhelm, Influencers have evolved as the natural filter and curators of content and are the fastest growing brand advocacy channel for customer acquisition. Their value is such that 59% of marketers in a Tomoson poll were increasing budgets for Influencer marketing.

70% of marketers reported ROI of $2 for every $1 spent on Influencer marketing, the top 13% made $20 or more. 

In addition, half of the responding marketers even agreed that the quality of the customers was better when acquired through Influencer marketing.

Jeff Foster, CEO of Tomoson speculating on what better ‘quality’ customers might mean suggested “social media users tend to spend more money, and are more likely to spread the word to friends and family.” If he is right, customers acquired through influencer channels can further increase ROI by bridging the divide between online activity and offline word of mouth conversations. Keller Fay Group estimates just 7% of word of mouth occurs online, a critical consideration when Nielsen 2015 report that ‘People I know’ is still the most trusted form of credible advertising.

As 82% of digital marketers move to create content for people, not search engines, there are now new opportunities to engage with audiences in new and meaningful ways. Mike “Hawkeye” Chapman, Head of Community at Hitbox, says “The younger generation prefers product placement to having to watch a 30-second commercial. And while older generations might see product placement as manipulative, Hitbox users tend to like seeing big brands support the content they love. In fact, it’s seen as almost philanthropic.”

It’s an evolving marketplace in the digital space, but targeted Influencer campaigns are offering new ways for brands to engage audiences with relevant content that inspires action and retention.