Thursday, April 25, 2013

Is Content Still King?

What's more important about Social Media Sites? The "Social" or the "Media"?

I read an interesting article earlier this week about how LinkedIn has created a massive media empire. Of course the headline sounds a bit outlandish since most people typically think of LinkedIn as a social (albeit professional) site, but what the article gets at is something which is pretty core to any social media site: the content that matters in your social group.

Each of the major social sites has a different focus of content, but it's still the content which users are typically referring to on the sites themselves.

As the article above states, LinkedIn has created a unique niche with Influencers and the daily emails which are sent recapping a series fo interesting articles. In fact, I actually subscribe to those emails and find them pretty interesting. So I can personally vouch for the idea that this method of having a small number of content creators and very focused articles drives a lot of views and engagement.

Unlike LinkedIn, I'd say that most Facebook users aren't heading to facebook to read articles. They're typically looking to catch up on their friends' activities. The activities are listed in the newsfeed are content. But if you've visited your newsfeed lately, you obviously know that it's not just a listing of random status updates. People post articles they've read, photos they've taken, music they're listening to, etc, etc. So the newsfeed is actually full of a wide variety of content posted by a large number of users (ahem, the content creators). So while Facebook may seem like just a place to read about the lives of your friends & families, when you visit the site, it's about a lot more than that.

Similarly, Twitter has long tried to enhance the content of the timeline after recognizing the types of things people were tweeting about. So rather than just seeing 140 characters of stream of consciousness, you'll see content summaries of articles, you'll see twitter cards linking out to other sites, and if you go to the #Discover tab, you'll see summaries of that. In way, it's quite similar to what Facebook is doing.

On the face of it, it may seem like LinkedIn is taking a completely different path to engagement than what Facebook and Twitter are doing, but at the core of it, it's quite similar. LinkedIn has determined what can drive interest, engagement, and page views. Facebook has done the same. Twitter has done the same. Yes, it's social, but it's still about content. It may not be long investigative articles, but it's still content.

The methods of displaying that content may differ between sites, but it's clear to me that content is still king.

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