When It Comes to Content Strategy, Spreadable Is the New Sticky
Here is a brief excerpt from an article written by Sam Ford for Fast Company magazine. The author of Spreadable Media, discusses why content strategies that focus on keeping conversations artificially contained are outmoded. To read the complete article, check out others, and obtain subscription information, please click here.
Image: Flickr user Doug Wheller
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A few years back, a client came to my agency with a desire to show its “thought leadership” online. A key executive there was a credible source on healthy living, and the company wanted to find ways for him to share his expertise online.
We considered the question from the audience’s eyes, thinking about the company’s content in relation to other online communities and destinations online focused on the same subject, and considering as a goal seeing audiences sharing and engaging with our client’s material in those various destinations.
The company would hear none of this way of thinking. Why, they asked, would they want to pay any mind to discussions about healthy living elsewhere? Wouldn’t dispersed engagement be harder to measure and dilute focus on their expert? No, we needed to launch a corporate blog.
The disconnect between my agency and our client stemmed from contrasting mindsets. The company operated via stickiness, while we were focused on spreadability–a distinction my co-authors and I examine in our new book, Spreadable Media. With stickiness, success is determined by how many individuals come to a centralized location via a uniform experience and how long they spend there. Sound familiar? It should. It’s an attempt to recreate the “impressions” model of traditional media industries.
Meanwhile, spreadability focuses on how content moves through communities and exists at multiple points of contact, with an emphasis on a diversity of audience experiences. Publishers focused on spreadability seek to motivate sharing and encourage audiences to actively engage with content on their own terms.
No matter what we said, the company couldn’t be convinced. Their resulting blog didn’t connect to discussions about healthy living elsewhere–because their system of measurement placed no value on such connections. As a result, the blog today sits like so many other online ghost towns, without an update in more than three years.
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To read the complete article, please click here.
Sam Ford is director of digital strategy for Peppercomm and co-author of Spreadable Media: Creating Value and Meaning in a Networked Culture (Postmillennial Pop) with Henry Jenkins and Joshua Green. He is also a Futures of Entertainment Fellow, a research affiliate of the program in Comparative Media Studies at MIT, and an instructor with Western Kentucky University’s Popular Culture Studies program. Sam was named 2011 Social Media Innovator of the Year by Bulldog Reporter and serves on the Membership Ethics Advisory Panel for the Word of Mouth Marketing Association. He is also co-editor of The Survival of Soap Opera with Abigail De Kosnik and C. Lee Harrington. Follow him on Twitter @Sam_Ford.