Everything is semantics. I’ve been saying this for a while now. Ironically, I’m just replaying the old saw that everything has been invented already and everything else is just a version on the theme. This is true in almost every sphere of life and this is especially true in the world of “content.”
Use the word content in North America and use it in the UK and you’re talking to a different group of people. “Content strategy” in North America is generally a web term. In the UK, it describes an overall strategy that includes print, digital and other forms of media.
The (relatively) recent birth of digital has created silos all over the place and this is true of custom media providers as much as it is for their clients. The silo is, to me, the killer of progress, an unnatural filter.
The silo is like Neanderthal man: it is bound to die because it is an organizational dead end. An industrial era solution for the digital age. And I fear that the web content community, at least as it exists in North America, is in danger of painting itself into a silo.
We complain about the silos within our own clients’ offices but as I’ve said, the silo is being built up around the “content” industry itself.
Personally, I’m delivering content for many clients all over the world and all of them want to know what our “strategy” is for delivering that content. That strategy involves a whole lot of different delivery systems. You know, like print. Along with the digital and the apps and the mobile and the video…
So there are all these conferences now (and I’ve been attending them and most of them are fantastic and full of awe-inspiring people sharing great ideas – for real) and the talk is of… the web.
The talk is of some revolution that has happened when nothing could be further from the truth. Sure, life has changed. That’s normal. Evolution happens. But this is all semantics. Degrees.
Content marketing is about using words (and pictures and drawings and sounds…) to sell stuff. Content strategy is about using words to communicate effectively. Curation is editing on a different scale.
Yes, the scale is different. But again, that’s evolution. And sometimes evolution causes a lot of trouble and even evinces a new set of rules. But the basics don’t change. Just the platforms and technologies.
Look, we’ve had branded content since radio. Since media has existed. In other words, a long time. You look at some of the earliest forms of writing – cuneiform tablets from Mesopotamia for example – and those things were branded content for kings.
So what’s changed? Nothing. And everything. Everyone in the custom/branded media/content community needs to think less about the medium and more about the message. (Sorry Mr. McLuhan.)
Both are important but if we go into full “medium is the message” mode, we’ve created silos. I’m already afraid it’s happening among the brighter lights “content” crowd.
Everything is semantics. And today’s silo is yesterday’s obsolescence. You content people out there: you’re thinking big. Now think bigger.
Content Marketing World takes place September 6-8 in Cleveland. As an official media partner, Sparksheet brings you original conference-related content before and after the event.