From comparing and contrasting social networks AND content networks to implementing a Newsfeed feature on Listly, I’ve been thinking a lot about the psychology and consequences of following.
As I boil this post to a simple headline, three words emerged: Content, Connections & Culture.
Which comes 1st?
Last week I asked “Do Algorithms Make us Lazy? Do Metrics Numb our Feelings?” and my prior slides   &  have included early insights into what is the meaning of content and what is the meaning of social and how is sharing changing our lives.
Today, I pose 7 questions for you to answer. My goal is to get you thinking about content, connections & culture.
I believe strongly you need to cultivate a following on each type of content network. Some people have a blindness or a fear for video, for example. Some have a strength in audio. We are all unique.
What’s interesting is to put your personal biases aside. Think about your audience. Your audience will be made up of people with all sorts of biases. We all learn and consume content differently. Some love video, some audio, some words, some images. We all consume your content from our own unique perspective.
It’s my belief that 99% of people are focussed on building their Social Graph – That should be no surprise. Mark Zuckerberg did a great job of getting us to adopt the term, but what about your Content Graph? Who’s championing content?
Who’s thinking about Content in a holistic sense? This is when connections and culture come into play.
The case for content networks has grown as each new category of embeddable media emerges, ie Video, Slides, Audio, Lists etc. The web is simply getting more reusable.
The opportunity is not to wait for the category to be fully formed. Shoot for where the puck is heading. You need a strategy for embedded content, so you can decide how, when and why to invest.
Embedding and Content Networks aren’t just technology platforms, they a way of consuming and discovering content. How much do you understand and study content networks? Each has its own culture.
Don’t believe me? Take a listen to Gary Vaynerchuk. He’s said it many times in many ways. He spends many hours studying the emerging content and social networks with a simple goal. He’s seeking to create optimal strategies that Vayner Media will sell at a premium to their clients. The Jets won’t be cheap!
Let’s be clear each blog has its own culture too. Do you question culture or do you accept and shape it? Culture comes from one person taking a single action and others following. The @ on Twitter is the most well known example of the crowd forming modern culture on a network.
The way culture is woven into the social fabric via content and connections is interesting thing to study.
So, here’s two priming questions before we hit the big seven.
How are you strategizing to:
- optimize your connections on content networks?
- optimize the content you create? Are your appropriately & optimally translating your content for each media type?
Storytelling and social culture varies by media and platform. Videos on Youtube are different than Vine which are different than Instagram.
Connections with no content are worthless. Content created randomly will miss the target. You can share content via social networks alone, but doing only that is a lost opportunity. I now plan how my content is deployed via different networks and I strategize about which networks I will invest in.
For example I have a huge gap on YouTube. I need to get into both Video and Audio (for both content and networks).
I have been investing content and networking effort on Slideshare. I plan to return to video and audio shortly.
I’m obviously actively investing in Listly content. I love the contrast. I get to experiment almost daily. I can compare experiences and results. I’m clearly biased, but I seriously rank Listly. My bias is metric driven, but that’s another post.
Your big take away should be:
- What’s your brand’s conscious trans-media content plan?
- What’s your plan to cultivate connections (a following) on each content network.
- Can you explain the difference in the culture of different content networks? If not why not?
You need content that can tell stories (or hooks to stories) for each platform and you need a network of connections to let that content spread. Can an Instagram image or a Tumblr gif or a Vine video lead people to get curious about your BIGGER story. Shorter form media and skimming don’t make your story go away (or shrink), they just demand that you make your story accessible in bite size chunks.
You need to actively think about feeding infosnackers. These “mediums” offer hooks to bring people to take a closer look and to reshare ideas through their networks, triggering more curiosity.
Of course you could just risk getting ignored and forgotten.
Your content networks are like the orchestra. You need them all to play together to tell a rich and interesting story.
The wrong content for any given network will be suboptimal. Each network and content type has it’s own cultural norms. Gary spends hundreds of hours studying what’s working on Vine, for example.
I’ve spent a similar amount of time consuming content on Slideshare. There is art in each platform. Learn it.
Building a content graph of connections on each platform matters. We can debate follower count until the sun goes down. Like it or not, we know it matters, well at least building real connections on these platforms matter. People are impressed by numbers. It’s a fact. Follower counts are social proof. We can dismiss it in one breath but then be impressed that some unknown rising star springs forth and amasses a huge following on any given network. That’s no accident. It’s talent based and often strategic.
Blind following of people is not a strategy, creating content that engages means your network will help more people find you. Content networks and social networks are intertwined, but they are still culturally distinct. They are all driven by a newsfeed mindset, which is driven by followers.
Having a large active following on YouTube is vastly different that having a large following on Slideshare. Both are living assets. Your following needs nurturing. Having a strong network on each type of media is a huge asset.
What does your Social Graph look like compared to your Content Graph? More on that in another post.
OK, so here’s the big questions.
Why would you do this? The reasons are many.
7 Questions: Which Comes 1st Content, Connections or Culture?
Are You Connecting Ahead When it Comes to Content Networks?
Are you Adopting Generosity Mindset When it Comes to Content Networks?
Are you following people, appreciating and studying their content, learning the culture and are you sharing and giving back?
Do you treat Social and Content Networks differently?
If not why not. They are not the same. Content networks are much more segmented by topic/domain.
Is Your Strong Network Your Weakest Network?
A strong network tends to grow itself. It can be distracting and all consuming. I recommend looking at your mix across all type of content.
Decide how you will divide your efforts. Set goals and choose how you focus.
Do you Have a Content Blind-spot?
You do. I'm sure you do. Don't let your fear or personal bias impact your content strategy. Make sure your produce content to speak to every kind of learner.
Are You Experimenting Enough?
It's too easy to repeat what you have done previously.
Find what works on each platform by experimenting and observing the behaviours of others.
Are You Playing The Game?
Connection is triggered by human motivation. Are you following the cultural norms?
My key points are
- Social Networks Are Not Content Networks
- Each Content Network has a unique culture
- You need to create content ideas and then translate these stories into each form of media.
- Do not think you can build a following on any given platform overnight.
- Content, Connections & Culture are all intertwined.
There is no shortcut. You need to put in the hours. This is a fast moving and emerging science. You need to keep experimenting. What works today may not work tomorrow.
Who is the champion of content networks?