The saying goes that content is king. I don’t buy it. Sure, there is some great content out there – and there is some pretty bad content too. But what I think we often forget is how the structure of any given platform molds the kind of content we can create and how this content is picked up and moved throughout the web. Content always comes after structure. Always.
This difference could not be better outlined than in a post by VinTank on “The Importance of Social Media Optimization.” The post outlines the differences between Search Engine Optimization (SEO) – website tactics to increase your position in search results – and Social Media Optimization (SMO) – attempting to get unique visitors through social media channels. The difference boils down to the evolution of the web from traditional web-based browsing to a social web. This change in structure brings with it a change in how one creates and executes content, as well as how this content gets picked up and disseminated. These changes in structure have ushered in a shift, or perhaps a return, toward the importance of people rather than data. This is not to say that SEO will soon be obsolete; it will continue to exist. What it does mean is that the way we create content will continue to change. We no longer create content solely for algorithms. Instead, we must create content for people in order to both spark interest and increase discussion, because platforms are increasingly focusing on social currency. For example, Google is currently toying with altering its structure slightly to include social currency with its +1 button.
Likewise, social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook have not simply created a different outlet for the same content, they have altered the way in which content can be created, displayed and disseminated effectively. We cannot ignore Twitter’s structural components that change how we create and share content, such as the 140 character limit, hashtags, likes, follows, pokes, retweets, check-ins, etc. Great content producers are not simply creative individuals, they also have the knowledge and ability to master the structure of a given platform. We will always find ways to curate our content, but I think the question that needs to be asked is, to what extend does the structure of a given platform shape the way in which this curation takes place and what are the implications of each approach?