In his second act as one of the most successful venture capitalists working today, Web wunderkind Marc Andreessen often talks about the theme that informs his investment decisions:
“Software eats the world.”
By this he means new ventures that utilize software and Internet technologies to disrupt and transform business models and entire industries—perhaps the way Amazon did with books, then retail, then IT infrastructure; and Netflix did with movie rentals and now seeks to do with original programming.
This got me thinking about big content, and the fact that—along with its endearingly nerdy cousin, big data—content is eating marketing as we know it.
Why? Because compelling, authentic content is what makes social engagement happen. It’s what makes your brand come to life as, not a member of the marketing industrial complex seeking to extract dollar bills from your customers’ wallets, but as a welcomed participant in their daily experience. Great content humanizes brands.
Great content is also the great equalizer. Dollar for dollar, earned outperforms paid.
And let’s also not forget that great content is also the secret to getting found—on the social web and by search engines. Increasingly, search algorithms look beyond keywords and inbound links to the social signals that speak to quality and relevance. What’s liked, what’s shared and what’s followed are strong indicators of what’s found. Think of it this way: search marketing used to be about optimizing content for machines. Now, mercifully, it’s about optimizing content for human beings.
That, dear reader, is progress.
But many marketers still don’t get what big content is all about. They’re too attached to their brand agenda, perhaps too impatient about delivering the pitch and making the sale.
Big content is different in volume, velocity and variety. As I’ve said before: It’s human. It’s neutral. It’s simple. It’s visual. It’s conversational. It’s organic.
Brands that get this are allowing big content to eat marketing—allowing it to overtake traditional ways of communicating and engaging with their audiences—and they’re benefiting disproportionately.
Those that don’t get big content? Someone’s bound to eat their lunch.