The word ‘content’ gets tossed around a lot, especially in new media. And, like anything that gets tossed around, it gets beat up.
Which is why I began to wonder – who said ‘content is king’ and is it true? If it’s true, what does it mean to your business? If it’s not true, where should you put your focus?
Everywhere you look or listen, there seems to be more content than you can ever consume. There are over 50,000 new books a year published in English. In January 2008, 79 million users made 3 billion video views on YouTube and 10 hours of video are added every minute.
There are over 10 million blogs in the US alone – even if most of them hardly get read. Cable TV has thousands of programs that often get tiny audiences.
It seems like there is no shortage of content. So, who’s really king?
Some people might say it’s distribution – which is why cable companies are so strong – they distribute programs on TV and they distribute the internet over their cable.
But, tell that to Time Magazine or any company that has distribution and is drowning in the rapidly expanding sea of content.
After thinking about it, I’m pretty sure that ‘format’ is really king.
Format is the way in which something is arranged or laid out. YouTube is a format – it’s a mathematical formula that ‘formats’ video hosting. Facebook is a format – and a better one than MySpace based on its adoption by the trendiest and the hippest. Webkinz is a very cunning format. The iPod is a format. Twitter is a format. Even pre-washed salad is a format.
Even the greatest content works best within a format. Would SpongeBob SquarePants have been such a big hit if Nickelodeon hadn’t provided the format for it? I don’t think so.
In other words, even most of the big ‘winners’ wouldn’t be winners on content alone. Without the right format, they might have died on the vine. We all have stories about ‘can’t miss’ content that never cut through – in many cases because it wasn’t formatted effectively or didn’t find the right format.
Nope, content isn’t king. It’s just the raw material for formatting.
You might want to brainstorm how to format your ‘content’. What are the best formats for your business and your customers? Think about formats that connect with the customer – Experientially. Practically. Technically. Chronologically. Promotionally. Conveniently.