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We're All Responsible For Creating A Better Internet

(Posted on Jul 21, 2013 at 02:48AM )
Brands, companies, and individuals -- I think it’s time for some real-talk about content and social media. Gary Vaynerchuk recently gave an interview about his decision to employ a full-time stalker (a.k.a “content person”) to chronicle, translate, and transcribe his every movement and remark into micro-content for various social media.

While I respect Vaynerchuk’s incredible success and agree with his sentiment that micro-content and content in general is incredibly important to the future of business, I question whether encouraging brands and companies to develop this type of content is really what leaders in the social world should be doing.

This massively successful Slideshare presentation speaks to the already overwhelming amount of useless content we experience on a day to day basis. It states that “the single greatest threat to content marketing is content marketing.” The deluge of shoddy, slapped-together content and micro-content that content shops, farms, and agencies are churning out in an attempt to keep up with the growing desire for more and more media is actually what is making us (the collective number of people “listening”) numb to content of quality.

I’m beginning to notice a “content double-take,” where readers are so glazed over scrolling through endless LOLcat updates and tweets about food that they almost (or sadly, sometime do) miss an incredibly important piece of content and have to scroll back to it after the few seconds it takes to sink in.

For instance how many reading actually know what’s happening in Turkey? Or that ExactTarget was acquired by Salesforce for billions of dollars? Or any equally important, business-specific update. I am totally guilty of this “double-take” predisposition and I’ve often missed opportunities to learn, grow as a consumer of content, and be informed about important, bottom-line impacting events. I’ve missed the chance to provide immense value to my community because of precisely the type of content Vaynerchuk is championing.

Do we, the brands and companies with the resources to develop consistent streams of content, want to build a culture of “fast food consumerism” around content and social media? Do we want to actively encourage QWERTY-vomit instead of meaningful, thoughtful insights that could actually benefit another human? Do we want to say without words that “fast and easy” holds more value than “thoughtful and creative?” Should the leading voices in this space really be creating and supporting this type of content?

I don’t think so.

We, as a collective, should be focusing on creating a smarter, more beneficial internet -- for everyone. Web media and the internet’s immense index of knowledge is fundamentally changing the way we learn and communicate across the world. It is the unspoken responsibility of those creating and pushing content (especially from high places) to not muck that up! A recent survey shows that 67.5% of professionals use social media to find and consume content for professional reasons every single day, and this percentage will only grow as more people around the world get connected to social networks.

It is our responsibility to do more, be better, and produce higher-quality resources than we did yesterday. People all over the world are looking to us, as leaders, for inspiration, guidance, and insight -- that they could follow in our footsteps and also be more than the sum of their parts. Failing to recognize this, or recognizing this fact and choosing to ignore it for the “easier” path, is negligent, insular, and selfish.

You may be saying to yourself “well, all that idealistic ‘we can make the world better’ sentiment is nice and all, but I really just care about my bottom line.” I respect your position as a business person but, unfortunately, the point that value and insight should be driving your content development still stands (see above, where 67.5% of professionals use social media to find and consume professional content every day). Diluting the landscape with meaningless drivel produces a more complex, chaotic content landscape that will actually make people pay attention to you less, which, at the end of the day, is the opposite of what we (as brands and business) want.

Let’s be real. More likely than not, if you are reading this, you are not in that top “1-5%,” which means you already have to go above and beyond to be heard through the noise on social media and the web in general. Do you really want to make this more difficult for yourself? Do you want to become a monotonous voice of constant, meaningless communication in a sea of identical monotonous voices or do you really want your message to shine and drive significant impact? Consider this: a recent poll of professionals on the platform presented data that one piece of high-quality content had brought in over $50,000 on average over the lifetime of that content.

A more organized and valuable internet benefits the world, our brands, and our future leaders for the long tail -- not just the short-term vision of the “top 1-5% of executives and social media personalities.” Random updates from the days of these top 1-5% won’t spark creativity or innovation -- the absolutely priceless insight and perspective which the positions of this top 1-5% afford them is what will inspire and help create the leaders of tomorrow. Brands and personalities should be known for who they are, what they stand for, and what they are best at -- not who can create the biggest firehose of social media data.

Who am I to say these things? No one, just a humble content person with a bigger vision for social media and content than tweets with no vowels. Someone who was inspired to do this work because of the incredible insights and sincerity I saw from the brands and online personalities that catapulted social media to its position in the ecosystem of the internet today.

I ask you, brands, companies, and individuals as a peer and fellow creator -- do you want to be remembered because you had amazing, beautiful, insightful things to give to the world or do you want to be remembered because you just wouldn’t shut up? The choice is yours.
ByClair Byrd
DealerNet Services