Let’s ban the word content
I don’t like the word content when it comes to social media: I much prefer the word information. Content is something you receive and consume, information is something that you share. Content is a word that comes out of the traditional one-to-many mass communications space. A content strategy infers that the challenge is to produce much more stuff simply because we no longer need to pay for the channels to put this stuff in. I have to hold my hand up at this point and say that for a long time I subscribed to this view of content – I saw content as a volume challenge rather than a relevancy challenge.
However, the social media space is largely defined by people asking questions and searching for answers. As I am fond of saying, an ad is an answer to a question that no-one ever asked. The opportunity, for brands, lies in providing the answers to these questions. The questions are very specific and so must be the answers. Traditional content is very rarely the answer, because it is not specific or relevant enough.
Make the shift from thinking about content to thinking about information, and this helps organisations understand what they need to do. When we had content strategies, this created the expectation that the output of the strategy was going to be a series of pre-determined bits of content: stuff that you plan in advance. When you have an information strategy, it helps you recognise that the output has to be a process based on listening, and responding, to the questions that are being asked.
So – experiment with this one. Do search and replace. Wherever the word content appears in your strategy, replace it with information. If you have to change the strategy to accommodate that shift comfortably, that is probably a change for the better.