Viewing Media as Information Rather than Content Focuses on Value

Think differently. Apple focused on in their now-famous “Think Different” advertising campaign, Wired Magazine contributor Steve Silberman writes about it in his upcoming book called NeuroTribes: A smarter way of thinking about people who think differently, and John Borthwick believes that content companies and publishers have to do it in order to benefit from digital media and the disruption created by the social web.

Think Differently

John Borthwick is CEO of Betaworks, the company behind, Chartbeat and SocialFlow. Mathew Ingram at paidContent reported on John Borthwick’s talk at the acclaimed media industry forum paidContent 2012 last week. Borthwick suggests that one way that content creators think differently about what they do is to stop thinking about what they produce as “content,” and start thinking about it as “information.”

Content, Borthwick maintains, focuses attention on the package or the container for that content.

Viewing media instead as information focuses on the value of that information to users. The content package or delivery system — whether it’s a magazine or a newspaper or a mobile app — becomes secondary.

The language drives the way you think about things, and since we’re dealing with a new media landscape, we need to redefine some of the words. For me, the moment you start thinking about it as information, you start to think less about the package and more about the users.

The difference between words is subtle, but the emphasis on value is important. In the list of five strategic steps for social media marketing and content marketing success, value was ranked number four. It’s good to see someone pushing it to the top of the list.

As an editor for Highlight HEALTH, I’ve always tried to stay focused on the information. At Highlight HEALTH, we’re concerned about whether our stories get the message across to the reader. Some articles necessitate background information, while others don’t. Although we strive to ensure the information is approachable and consumable, story length isn’t a requirement.

Content marketing — the creation and publication of original content to generate leads, enhance a brand’s visibility, and put the company’s subject matter expertise on display — should work the same way. Value to the reader is what they get out of your content. Value is what your readers are looking for, sharing via social channels and ultimately “buying.” To get your audience interested in you, your brand message and your products and services, first you need to get to them with information that matters to THEM. That’s what value means in content marketing.

Walter Jessen is a digital strategist, writer, web developer and data scientist. You can typically find him behind the screen something with an internet connection.

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