Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Content is Not King (of Network-Weaving)

This advice may not help you succeed at digital marketing or building a website. But if you’re looking to build, weave, and sustain a network, you should know: It’s not about having the content; it’s about what you do with it.

We’re living in an age of information saturation. Why? First, everyone is a content creator. All you have to do is tweet, post an update to facebook, or even just check into a restaurant on Foursquare, and you’re part of the information explosion that’s becoming a part of our everyday lives. Second, we are all also content consumers. We have unprecedented access to information that exists, beyond the library walls, at our fingertips – or on our smartphones, iPads, or the other nearest 3G or Wifi-receiving device.

How does this affect network-weaving? First of all, as this article in Business2Community points out, “Relationships trump content as king” in social networks. I agree that relationships are more important than content because, as far as I can tell, you don’t get your information from people you don’t trust. Build those relationships, and then you can disseminate all the content you’d like – or that those in your network have an appetite for.

Indeed, many are inundated (and a bit overwhelmed) by tweets, articles, and even webinars that sit in their inboxes, facebook pages, and listservs. They need help figuring out what’s really relevant to them, and how to actually apply what they learn into their practices.

What they need, in essence, is curation. Paul Kedrosky has famously suggested that “curation is the new search.” Before there was Google, humans trolled the Internet looking for and aggregating useful content. Then, there was Google. Now, given the sheer quantity of information out there, humans once again are playing crucial roles in pointing the way to information catered to your interests and needs. Those people are your facebook friends and in your twitter feed. Those people are network-weavers.

But successful network-weavers don’t only curate information, contacts, and other resources. They also seek ways to apply the lessons learned from one part of the network to other parts of the network. While it has been argued that the trend of relying primarily on your own friends for your news and information is causing highly differentiated communities, truly excellent network-weavers have weak ties to people across silos, and they gain from those relationships the ability to seed unexpected ideas – leading to innovation.

1 comment:

  1. Beautifully articulated! I agree 100%. I think it was Clay Shirky who said that we're not suffering from information overload, but filter failure. There have always been more books than we'd ever have the chance to read, or songs than we'd ever be able to listen to, but we had very clear ways of filtering through what was interesting, important, or relevant. Today, we need to be more intentional about how we do that because there's more content than ever before, it's being created more quickly, the market penetration for the mechanisms that deliver that content is light years faster than it has been in the past, and we have instant access - we can see it all, right there, at any moment. I love the idea of networks as the ultimately curators, and I think we all see evidence of that in our own lives, so it rings true.