social content

It’s not about the quality of the content …

Mass amateurisation of content publishing has taken a few knocks recently – most often from professional content producers, many of whom still have access to the loudest megaphones in the media space, lashing out defensively at the prospect of becoming irrelevant and losing their jobs. And, let’s face it, we amateurs have done our fair share of mud-slinging at the has-been professionals …

The key question for me is about what motivates professional and amateur content producers.

The professional producers are traditionally paid to write stand-alone content which is designed to attract as many eyeballs as possible in the shortest possible time, before lining the cat litter tray. That’s it … nothing more … and nothing less. To do this, it must be authoritative, well researched and well written.

On the other hand, the amateur content producer is writing to reach out to others. The content is a means to an end rather than an end in itself. That end is in making connections and forming relationships and starting conversations. For example, the quality of the content of an indivdual blog post might look poor, because the richness is in the context around the post not in the text of the post itself. Quoting snippets of amateur content out of context is a bit like only reading the top e-mail response in a long e-mail chain that has been forwarded to several people, each of whom has added their bit of knowledge … just reading the top response is going to be pretty meaningless and miss the richness of the conversation underneath.

I can see plenty of opportunities for both amateur and professional content to exist side-by-side long into the future and enrich each other along the way – if only the two groups would stop hurling abuse at each other for a few minutes!

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What’s the difference between business and social content?

None … no, really! If you deploy social media tools in an enterprise setting (i.e. as business tools), then ALL the content within them is business content … including stuff about cars, cats and football. It has to be governed as business content and the business value has to be recognised.

I mentioned in my one-but-last-post about social media tools being symbolic permission to be fully yourself in a work context – with personality, opinions, flaws etc. Being a fully-rounded person all day everyday – rather than just outside of work – allows us to develop deeper and more meaningful relationships at work and provides a powerful mechanism to connect us together with people from the other side of the globe – or the other side of the partition – with whom we have no existing relationship.

So what of the dangers of employees ‘time-wasting’ publishing so-called social content instead of ‘working’? Firstly, the workplace is already full of ways to waste time … time-wasters will waste time with or without collaborative tools; secondly, that’s what we have performance management systems for – to ensure employees are performing in line with an organisation’s expectations; and finally, line management is supposed to be about managing people and tasks … how many more safeguards do you need??

Companies are just groups of people; people are sociable and thrive in sociable spaces; social spaces are attractive, welcoming places where people can create, relate and innovate … so, lets lose our hang-ups about ‘social’ content and recognise it for what it really is … here endeth the lesson! 🙂