Monthly Archives: April 2011

Content is King, Distribution is God

Media companies for ages have debated and argued about the importance of distribution over content and vice versa. Now as the line between content creation and consumption has blurred, the debate has trickled down to the crowd. It all started with the new forms of distribution coming in picture giving way to new forms of content creation and consumption.

Distribution evolves over time. Evolution started with the printing press publishing books, magazines, newspaper. Went on to radio for transmitting information followed by television to listen and watch the content. Then came along cable television, Internet, satellite radio, mobile and social media to take distribution to new levels. Every evolution in distribution has led to the evolution of content in the way it is curated and consumed.

Of all the forms of distribution, the one that arguably had the biggest impact is social media. Social media has redefined distribution. For years content development had gatekeepers. The few people who controlled the channels of mass distribution of content had the power on which content was worth distributing and which was not. Internet came along to lift this control on distribution to a large extent. But the real freedom of distribution (at least in most parts of the world) came along with the social media. Blogs made every individual with a point of view an author. Digg, delicious and other bookmarking sites gave the power to the crowds to bubble up what’s worth reading and what can be ignored. YouTube came along to take video broadcasting to a new level and twitter gave everyone with the skill and guts to write a 140 meaningful characters the power to change governments and embrace or kill brands.

This new form of distribution has led to a big change in content creation. It’s a world of intense focus. You can no longer produce content for everyone. You have a much better chance of getting attention of a select few than getting the eyeballs of everyone. Success has embraced the Justin Biebers and Lady Gagas of the world who understand their audience, engage with them and intensely focus on delivering content for them.

There’s a big change in content consumption. Packages no longer work in social media. It’s a world of a la carte. You read that article on The Economist when the title appeals to you in your twitter field, you watch that Saturday Night Live skit that focuses on what you care about and you download that song that you want to listen again and again.

Still there’s no arguing that content is super important. I believe it is more important than ever before. The new channels of distribution has given everyone the options that never existed before. The attention span of your consumers is less than ever before. You got to be on the top of the game when it comes to creating content. But what’s more important for any kind of content creator and attention seeker is to make sure you leverage the new forms of distribution, reach to the right audience and engage them to make you content bubble up and get your share of three minutes of glory. Because at the end of the day, content may be the king, but distribution is god!

Incentives for mavens in the social world

In order to understand how to incentivize mavens, it is very important to understand how they are different from your spokesperson, brand ambassador and sales person. A spokesperson, brand ambassador or sales person is someone who works for a company. It’s their job. They say awesome things about a brand or they recommend people to use a company’s product primarily because they are paid to do that. Mavens on the other hand are the trusted experts in a field who seeks to pass knowledge on to others. These are the people who are contacted by others to find information in a field they command expertise. They do it just because they want to do this and are passionate about this.

The best incentives for mavens anywhere is recognition. One of the pioneers in this field is Microsoft. A big reason behind Microsoft’s success as a platform is the big array of applications on it. The applications are developed by a community of developers. Microsoft incentivize developers using the Microsoft MVP program. Microsoft Most Valuable Professional program gives special recognition to the developers who are active in the Microsoft developers communities and forums answering questions, making suggestions and contributing to the product. Microsoft invites them special developers conferences, gives them gift coupons to buy Microsoft software and a special tag next to their name on Microsoft communities.

Another good example is Coca-Cola. As Facebook became a big deal and companies started to look at it as a marketing platform, Coca-Cola discovered that their fan page was already there. A couple of Coca-Cola fans created the Facebook fan page and actively managed it. These individuals were real soft drink mavens who vouched for Coca-cola and took the initiative to help Coca-Cola fans engage with each other. Cola-Cola recognized that and instead of taking over the fan page encouraged these people to maintain it and provided them resources to do so. Over the years, unlike many Facebook fan pages, majority of content on Coca-Cola fan page is still generated by fans.

The most important thing to recognize while dealing with mavens is that you cannot manage them. What you can do is listen to them, engage with them and appreciate them so that they have the incentive to be part of your community and be the volunteers who act as your spokesperson, brand ambassador and sales person.