Information is exploding—doubling every year. Consumers are delighted and overwhelmed with all the noise. Being online is like standing in Times Square every moment of the day.

Not surprisingly, people’s attention spans are decreasing every year. Statistics show that the average attention span is just 8 seconds. What does this mean for business? You have just seconds to grab someone’s interest.

If you want to get and sustain people’s attention, you need quality content—lots of it. What you produce needs to be truly helpful and authentic. Welcome to content marketing!

Adobe, partnered with Econsultancy, found that content marketing is the number one priority for marketers. Best-in-class marketers are dedicating about one-third of their budget to content marketing. Yes, both B2C and B2B marketers. Expectations have changed. You have to up your game.

Crowdsourcing content is key. You need a crowd.

You need to invest in social. You also need to think of social marketing as an investment in the community; it’s an investment in people and relationships. Although there are up-front costs to start the initial conversation and encourage interaction, these steps can create a self-sustaining content strategy.

Getting Passionate Individuals Onboard Is Your Endgame

The time and money you invest in building your community will connect with advocates for your brand. These advocates or “superfans” are the ones who will create the quality content. Not you.

The fact is that the content community members create is far more valuable than anything you can generate. It has a whole different value due to the importance of word of mouth. We trust the recommendations of people we know (word of mouth) almost implicitly. Nielsen measured this at 84 percent.

We trust recommendations from people we don’t know almost as much at 70 percent. The content from your community such as tweets, blog articles, reviews, and forum posts is trusted more than anything a brand can create.

You could spend money to create content like you always have. But doing so is like taking a spin on a hamster wheel. Your regular content will give you the normal lift in engagement and could translate to some very real ROI. That is until the investment stops. Then you will have to start all over again. It is pay to play.

You could also take the same expenditure and invest in cultivating your community and developing powerful and lasting relationships. Once you have established superfans, they will keep creating content for you. This is like an annuity that keeps paying out.

Your Bonus Round—The Multiplier Effect

If you can get people out there promoting your brand, you’ve already racked up some major points. But there is a bonus round, too.

Your superfans are not only part of your community; they are part of your go-to-market strategy. These superfans create the multiplier effect by amplifying your message, increasing engagement with your campaigns, and inviting their friends to join the party. Their passion, comments, and posts will continue to pay dividends.

Social is an expensive endeavor. That means you have to double down. What strategy are you taking to build your community? Are you investing wisely?