Connections create value from content

"Show me the content!" asks Joël Céré in response to our announcement yesterday on the launch of Blogging Planet.

He refers to this text in the description of the corporate consulting services that Blogging Planet offers:

[…] it is the medium – the network you build – that matters, not the message – the content.

Joël says:

I would argue that good content is still key to create a good network.

We have no disagreement here, Joël. Content is paramount – we are not suggesting that you ignore it, as Elizabeth said in her comment to your post.

What we are saying is this.

While compelling content is key in all communication (not only with new channels like blogs), it is just one of the means by which you build connections.

We believe that this focus only on content prevents you from seeing the more important issue – the value derived through the creation, maintenance and use of a powerful network of ongoing conversations amongst the widest possible audience, all of which provides the connections back to your organization.

In other words, it’s the links – the connections – that assume greater importance as part of the goal of creating value from the content through the network you build.

You can have the most compelling content possible, something that’s a joy to read  – or watch, or listen to – and enables the reader to gain clear understanding from your message that leads to a desired action. Yet all that is wholly in vain if you don’t also have the connections.

You want people to talk about your content, tell others about it. In this new age of participatory communication, that happens when those people start making connections though blog posts (for example), which can then lead to the creation of a value network.

How does this happen? We have the tools now – trackbacks and RSS feeds in particular – that make it literally a simple point-and-click process.

A case in point for you, Joël – your blog doesn’t accept trackbacks (one of the downsides of Blogger-hosted blogs – you should consider Haloscan for that) so I can’t create a connection to your blog from this post.

This could have been the start of a wonderful relationship 😉

(Cross-posted from Blogging Planet)

5 thoughts on “Connections create value from content

  1. How does this happen? We have the tools now – trackbacks and RSS feeds in particular – that make it literally a simple point-and-click process.
    Be sure to tell Blogger.

  2. But you gotta have something to link to, right?

    Okay, it all started with a recent blog post by a new company called, a consultancy specifically for companies wishing to start blogs and wikis as ways of promoting the company itself. That post…

  3. Hi Alice, thanks for that.
    Not sure I wholly understand your point, unfortunately. You’re referring to the difficulty of trackbacks and RSS with Blogger blogs? A feed from Blogger isn’t a real issue but trackbacks are. However, a service like Haloscan works fine for those blogs.
    You’re blog’s a Blogger (BlogSpot) blog, and you don’t have trackbacks. Haloscan’s for you!
    You do agree with the point re RSS and trackbacks, right?

  4. Hello Neville,
    My argument is that while it is difficult to have popular content without a network, it is even more difficult to build and sustain a network without popular content. I refer to “content” as articles, services, links or ongoing conversations. This extensive definition as opposed to articles alone could be the reason why our opinions appear to differ.
    You use the term “ecosystem” when referring to bloggers network. It is absolutely spot-on. As you know, one of the reason bloggers form networks is because they can extract value from their interactions. Members of such ecosystem play different roles and feed on each others. Some produce content, some comment upon others, some aggregate and relay information. The ecosystem works because they all contribute and benefit from it (traffic, recognition, dissemination of ideas, etc…).
    I, like many others list your blog in my blogroll because I think you write thought provoking articles and because your blog often reference materials I like to read, thus saving me the hassle to find them elsewhere. On top of this, the comments I make on your articles allow me to get noticed, thus growing my own network and benefiting from the traffic to your blog. If the quality or frequency of your articles were to drop, or if you suddenly shifted your focus to 15th century Norwegian poetry, I, like other members of your network could have less incentive to link to your blog as the interaction value will diminish. By loosing content you would loose your network too.
    A content strategy is central to help reach the influencers and relays you need to build a network designed to fulfil your communication objectives. Content is what fuel your network and allows it to live and grow.
    It’s an interesting academic discussion anyway: what comes first? Content or Network? A kind of 21st century chicken and egg 🙂
    Thanks for the tip on Haloscan by the way, I have just set it up.

  5. Nice rebuttal, Joel, thanks. Yet we are in pretty close agreement in this matter. If we argue which comes first, content or network, then we will perpetuate a classic Catch-22 conundrum. Or chicken and egg, as you said.
    This misses the point. Original content does come first. Without it, how can you start to build a value network? So it’s not about arguing which comes first. Indeed, there is no argument.
    I’m glad you’ve mentioned the broader spread of what ‘content’ means – not only the originating story or message that you start with, but things like links and ongoing conversations. It’s common to think of ‘content’ as just written words such as one post in a blog. That’s purely the originator, the start point for developing the content from which you build your value network through the connections and conversations that enable you to then create the business value you’re seeking.
    Look at this example. We have my post in this blog, which was cross-posted from the Blogging Planet blog. There’s your comment and my reply (this one), plus your own subsequent post on your blog. There’s also a trackback here (above) to another post on Jason Pettus’ blog. All of these things are addressing the same topic – no tangential discussions – and all of these things therefore make up the content that started with the first post, the ‘originating content,’ if you will.
    Content is an integral part of the network ecosystem we advocate – the total number of links, connections or pathways between your organization and its key audiences, both direct and indirect, as well as those links among your audience members themselves. Clearly originating content is key here, one of the foundational elements of this ecosystem.
    But, as I mentioned in my post, it’s not just about the content. Yes it’s important, but the claim that ‘content is king’ – where that descriptor remains focused on the old way of thinking that if you have the originating content, that’s all you need – is simply no longer valid.
    I agree with your point that content fuels the network – if that means the content that develops and grows from the originating story or message.
    Yet any continuing focus on content – does it come first, how important is it, etc – diverts attention and focus from the more important issue: the value derived through the creation, maintenance and use of a powerful network of ongoing conversations amongst the widest possible audience, all leading in one form or another back to your organization.
    Pure content is losing its primary importance as a driver of business value. In the new participatory communication environment, the network is king.

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