The Digital Revolution…And How To Compete In It More Effectively
It’s a very easy thing, in this day and age to become blinded by digital science. The technology we have at our disposal today is pretty awesome and it can facilitate our ability to reach people just about anywhere, tell them just about anything and also to get instant feedback from them.
Like every quantum leap, digital communications, however, has its up and down sides. The upside is that, wow, now you have the whole world as your audience. The downside is that wow, now you have the whole world as your audience, but so does everybody else.
The nature of this particular beast that the Internet has created is a very difficult one to tame. I have talked to a number of people over the past year who are growing exhausted and frustrated from trying to keep up with the amount of ‘meaningful and engaging’ content they have had to create, just to be considered ‘in the game’.
An Object Lesson
Tonight I was watching an episode of an extremely powerful, beautifully rendered TV series called The Newsroom. This series is written and run by a true genius writer named Aaron Sorkin.
In the episode I watched, the fictional television news network, that is really the star of this show, is being overtaken by some very rich cyber-geek who, in his own words, will bring them into the 21st century. Needless to say there is a great deal of resistance to that by the broadcasters and journalists who, ironically, are much more experienced and probably just as up-to-date with digital technology as the the cyber-geek guy.
The conflict in this series pretty much tells the story of our times. The new owner wants to turn the news network into a completely interactive entity where the ‘people’ write the news, send in their own stories and comments…kind of like Facebook or Instagram. From his point of view, call it the New School point of view, he sees the ability to generate virtually endless amounts of content, interspersed with advertising to make lots of money. He also sees this as something the coveted 18-35 market will glom onto in a big way.
From the point of view of the news network people, call them Old School, this is equivalent to giving iMacs to a thousand monkeys and posting everything they come up with. And you know what, they’re not that far off. The problem the cyber-geek was pointing out is, that in his opinion, news is boring unless its presented in some peer to peer fashion. And that is really a strong parallel to the challenge many of us who are running content management programs face today.
What really engages people on LinkedIn for example, are basically regurgitations of maybe 20 different post concepts concerning job seeking and the work place. I’ve read quite a few of these and after a while, like listening to a top 40 FM radio station, the songs start to sound the same. But there must be a comfort in this sameness, because these posts typically get hundreds of thousands of page views. Whereas a post like this, with a point of view and a slightly critical tone, may end up getting a couple hundred if I’m lucky.
Resolution Within The Revolution
Social and business media sites are filled with people writing posts about how to scour the web for content ideas. But most of those processes just add to the amount of time you are already spending trying to create some meaningful ROI for your business.
The web is also filled with what I consider to a bunch of content sluts who will create ‘meaningful and engaging’ content for you, and for a very modest price. Of course they can afford to do that because once they’ve got you, they’ll have you for a long time. And at the end of the day, it really has nothing to do with the fact that the content you are supposed to be creating is allegedly designed to showcase your own expertise. This seems to have been lost somewhere along the way in the wild and woolly world of digital free enterprise.
I have been on Facebook, and pretty actively so for the past several years. At this point, though, I don’t even really have to go on the site to know what I will find there. Why? Because sooner or later, everybody, except the most creative, starts to run out of content, so they just repost somebody else's or their own. Nobody actually writes posts anymore: they write captions for the pics and videos they put up.
It’s all kind of sad, when you think about it. All these people with what appears to be a pronounced need to communicate with each other, have the means to do so, but lack the ingenuity to go about it, other than through the sign language of borrowed interest.
What, Me Worry?
I don’t really have any sort of solution to the dilemma that most people are facing. In fact I can’t even relate to it to any degree. Why? Because I am a professional writer and will always have something to spout off about and hopefully, always in an interesting way.
But I have to say, I feel sorry for those who aren’t professional writers. They have to feel at least a little bit guilty for cluttering up the web with a bunch of drivel. Oh sure, they’re doing their best. But at the end of the day, what the poor content writers are doing is basically poisoning the well for the real content creators. And neither group really benefits from all this activity.
3 Important Points For Those Who Have Read This Far Because I’m Sort of Making Sense.
1, There’s an old expression out there, that says “Don’t Do The Crime If You Can’t Do The Time”. That pretty much sums up content management in whatever form that happens to take for you. The content creation and management game is a marathon. It’s not for the feint of heart. And it’s certainly not for the smart-asses who think they can buy their way to the top of the content heap. It requires diligence, lateral thinking, solid research and a strong point of view.
Without all those elements running on all cylinders, you are pretty much doomed to drop out like the 80%. But if you’re smart about it, post at the right times, do your homework and keep things interesting, if not, downright dangerous, well, you might just have about a 20% chance of success.
2. I’m just trying to be realistic here. I’m not trying to deflate anybody’s balloon. But if your content program has you frustrated and confused, maybe it’s time to take a step back and look your total marketing plan. Maybe, there are other media you can use to get your message out there that don’t involve banging your head against a brick wall for long periods of time. I can’t tell you what those would be because every business is different.
3. Having your original, self-generated content professionally edited for you is a good thing. It will bring your ideas to another level of clarity, engagement etc. But having your posts written for you by the content sluts out there will, sooner or later, end up working against you. Because all it takes is one false note to ruin the whole song, so to speak. And the chances of that happening are not exactly remote.
History Isn’t Just A Bunch Of Old Shit…It’s A Great Teacher
A lot of people think I’m basically a shill for the Old School way of doing things. But that’s not true. What I am is someone who grew up and developed his communication skills in the Old School, and have brought them forward.
What I want to keep reminding people is that basics of solid, engaging communication have not changed…only the tools we have to use.
So for that reason alone, it’s very important to stay in touch with the past, your roots etc. And if you are a digital-only person, maybe a trip back through a book written by someone like David Ogilvy, Raymond Rubicam or Leo Burnett would be a journey worth taking.
That’s all. Go forth and multiply your ROI.
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