Tag Archives: Social media

Is Content King?

2 Aug

“Content is king”. I’ve been hearing and reading this phrase ever since I started working in the e-learning industry more than a decade ago. It has been mostly true for most of the history of content. But is it true now? I think the answer is “it depends”.

Content is social
In the last few years, the free content on the Internet is killing the print industry. People recognized that they don’t need “experts” writing news stories, analyses, and reviews for which they have to pay. Content created by amateurs is good enough and most importantly, it’s free. Breaking news is available on Twitter, restaurant reviews are available on Yelp, content on any topic is available on Wikipedia. If I want to learn a programming language, I just go to W3Schools or Codecademy. If I have a question, I can ask my friends on Facebook or anyone on Yahoo Answers, Stack Exchange, or Quora. Most importantly, participation in a community increases engagement.

Experience economy
Design and user experience have always been important in every industry but good design is hard and not many people focus on it. Content has always been available in print or digital format. But it doesn’t always address our learning and development needs. It’s generic and is not tailored to anyone. It might be irrelevant. However, the main reason users do not trust a Web site is not content, it’s the Web site design. On the other hand, people trust content originating from authoritative sources.

Content, however good it is, will not be used if it doesn’t fit nicely into a satisfying experience. Reading a book doesn’t provide that experience, so a number of startups are developing interactive ebooks using rich media. Analytics tools are available, which, when integrated with ebooks and quizzing, might provide useful usage and performance data. Social media is being integrated with ebooks to help students interact with their peers and teachers.

Quality content is not enough. It should reach the target users. Marketing, especially social media marketing, is very important to make sure a large number of people are aware of the existence of the content. Good content is what gets shared, and that’s the best marketing for the content.

Content for students
Times are changing. Very soon, content creators will be competing  not only on the quality of content, but the experience they are providing to their users. Users will no longer learn by reading their books, they will get all kinds of current information delivered to their electronic devices. They will take an assessment and will instantly get feedback and recommendation on what they should study next and which resources they can use. They have a question, they just ask, and someone, somewhere around the globe will  answer it. They are on the move, and small chunks of information will be delivered to their smartphones based on spoken search queries. Content would never be stale again. Rapidly advancing technology is making things happen that were unimaginable a few years ago.

There are three elements of a great experience: Content, community, and technology.

So the answer to the question – Is content king? – is yes. Content will always be king. But the place for experts in today’s world is getting smaller and smaller. The wisdom of individuals and crowds is taking over content creation. The design of the experience is more important than ever.

Related Readings

Content Is No Longer King: Curation Is King

Why Content Quality Matters: The 7 Hallmarks of Compelling Content
Psychology of Trust on the Internet

A Brief History Of Content

30 Jul

What is content?
Content is any information communicated using a medium such as speech, writing, print, visual, or even sign language. Content has an audience within a specific context. A book, a tweet, a status update, a video, a podcast, a product review, a TED talk, a question, and an answer are all examples of content.

Humans beings have evolved over millions of years. The oldest content – some cave paintings – have been discovered that are about 32,000 years old. From cave paintings, sign language, spoken language, and writings to today’s medium of electronic devices, content creation and distribution has come a long way.

So how has the content changed over the years? Here’s a brief history of content.

Middle ages
For thousands of years, before written language existed, knowledge was passed from one generation to the next using gestures, drawings, and later spoken language. Then we started writing, and a handful of very knowledgeable people, such as Socrates, da Vinci, and Shakespeare, created literary and artistic pieces. Content was premium because it was written and copied by hand and there was very few of it.

Modern and Industrial age
In the fifteenth century, Gutenberg invented the hand-operated printing press. It enabled printing of a large number of books and other literary works. During the industrial revolution, a mechanized version of the printing press helped massive creation and distribution of printed materials. Content creators were more than ever before but they were still a minority. Electronic production and recording medium were invented in the twentieth century that helped creation and distribution of content to an even larger population and commoditize content.

The Internet age (1995-2000)
In mid 1990s, Internet started becoming accessible to the  general populace. The content creators and consumers multiplied, and the cost of creating and distribution started veering toward zero. The content was still static text and images delivered over the slow dial-up connections.

The age of the broadband
Beginning in 2001, home broadband started becoming ubiquitous and affordable. Content now included not just text and images but also Flash animations and short videos. Online learning revolution started at around the same time though it didn’t quite revolutionize education as many had expected.

The “social” age
The age in which we live now can be called the social age. Dominated by Facebook and Twitter, we create small chunks of content on a daily basis and share it with our friends and followers. Movies, restaurants, and everything under the sun (sold by Amazon) is being reviewed by the consumers and shared with the rest.

Content has come a long way. From premium priced content created by experts, the world is gravitating toward socially-created content that costs nothing. And this is happening because the quality of content is not enough. It’s the marketing, relevance, and social features enabled by technology that is revolutionizing the business of content.

Is content still king?