Defining Content

Content is the new strategy, blog snorkellers mine.  By which I mean, of course, that it is the latest concept to have a achieved a truly global misunderstanding of what it means, what it stands for and what it does.

For my entire working life – and I’ve posted about this before – I have marvelled at the business world’s complete inability to agree on a common definition of strategy and thus, as a consequence, its complete failure to produce anything of any value to anyone. I’m sure I am not alone when I say that I cannot remember the amount of times I have been confronted with the mantra – objectives, strategy, tactics – and the amount of times that the three terms have been interpreted in different ways. As I understand it, the concept of ‘strategy’ is what business is predicated on – how, therefore and for the love of god, has anyone ever managed to get anything done, given that strategy turns out to be a meaningless construct, created, I can only surmise, to give consultants something with which to justify their enormous fees. (Mind, I shouldn’t really complain as I, too, have had my share of enormous fees generated on the back of fuck all.)

Anyhoo, dear followers, I digress. Content, you see, in this age of digitalisticity, has become the new strategy. Everyone’s talking about ‘content’ – by which they mean (broadly speaking) the holy grail of nebulous shite which, once posted on t’interweb will, miraculously provoke the ‘big conversation’ and, equally miraculously, sell some branded nonsense. The problem, however, is that no-one knows what ‘content’ actually is – and, trust me, spending too much time thinking about it will result in a ‘Zen and The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance’ moment, because it doesn’t really exist. Content is really (and very simply) all the stuff you probably had before – video, brochures, boilerplates, messages, Q&A, position statements – all the stuff that you needed to communicate effectively, and which simply needs to be re-packaged (or not) for the medium.

Problem is that somewhere along the line, as the hysteria around social media built, it was decided that ‘content’ was something that was more than the sum, or the essence, of what already existed and was, in fact a completely new thing. (The closest I can get to it is Unobtainium in ‘Avatar’ and we know what a distasteful pile of greying, unwashed y-fronts that was.) It’s a new medium, said the snake-oil salesmen, corporate hippies and purveyors of digital voodoo, and therefore it needs a new type of ‘content’. And so the concept of ‘content’ passed into modern folklore – and became something that everyone had heard about and no-one understood. Special delivery – another set of undergarments for the Emperor!

(Of course, I’m actually behind the curve with this diatribe because, just as the smarter amongst us are finally beginning to realise that social media are not new media, but simply the old media delivered differently, and that the rules by which we played with old media are the same rules by which we must play with new media, and that Twitter is not, in actual fact, a good message delivery system, so those same smarter amongst us are also realising that social media cannot be leveraged as sales and marketing tools. And thus the concept of miracle ‘content’ is redundant before it even got on the job.)

Anyway – here is some content. This is the sort of content that makes the internet go round. Or square. Or long and thin and squiggly. Whatever shape the internet is. This is the sort of content that defines content. Some may find it funny. Others stupid. But I think we can all agree that it is ‘content’.

And no, I do not now wish to rush out and buy a cat. No matter what brand of cat.

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Filed under External Communications, Public Relations, Social Media

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