During the dot com days, the phrase ‘content is king’ was the rallying cry as companies filled websites up with content in an attempt to attract ‘eyeballs’, which would turn into page views, ad impressions and a super IPO. The quality of the content took a back seat to the quantity of the content.
Today, we get our content from a fire hose. Google or Bing any question and expect thousands of pages in the search results. People can create their own content through blogging services like Tumblr or Posterous with a few clicks. If ‘Content is King’, we have a lot of Kings.
Futurist Baekdal spoke of the term ‘Social News’ to describe how we get our news via recommendations from others. Rather than pour through the local or national news site, thousands of blogs, etc, we instead click on links presented to us through our social stream. As Baekedal said “We no longer look for news, it finds us.”
We turn to news sites for their credibility and content. We implicitly realize that a news story on CNN.com carries more credibility than one posted on “Joe’s Blog and Bait” (made up). While news sites are under fire for not-vetting stories in the race to be first, it is these news organizations that are held to a standard of accuracy.
I feel that the Washington Post has taken a step in the right direction with their fantastic iPad application. While having the basic digital representation of their print edition, Washington Post added a section called “Live Topics”. In “Live Topics”, readers not only get Washington Post content, but articles found elsewhere on the web that WP editors felt help inform the topic. Relevant tweets are also included, but due to the automated nature of the filtering, obviously aren’t always as relevant. The Washington Post leads by example in this content curation. While others avoid content ‘not created here’, WP embraces it and becomes more valuable to me as a news source.
As marketers, we need to take lessons from the Washington Post and focus not simply on creating content for our audience, but also demonstrating that we know our audience well enough to gather and recommend content created elsewhere. Our strength should be demonstrated in what we recommend as much as what we say.