Six Pixels of Separation - The Blog
February 7, 2009 5:30 PM

Quality

You can game the system as much as you want. You can push, prod, provoke and even create a ton of linkbait to get attention. You can add as many people as you can on Twitter, Facebook, FriendFeed and more. But, nothing is going to be sustainable and nothing is really going to move the needle unless you're offering quality.

In the music industry, there are tons of artists complaining that the death of the major labels is going to mean that great music will cease being able to reach the masses. As the publishing industry begins to struggle more and more, the same is being said about book authors and journalists. There's a fundamental reality that everybody fails to miss - mostly because by facing it, it forces you to face the very essence of your being and what you're all about: If something is of the highest quality, it does find its audience. If it's not, no one really connects. We all like to think we're awesome, but maybe - at the end of the day - no one really cares.

Wirth more and more media channels and places to connect, that said "audience" might be more fragmented and "smaller" - in terms of sheer size and volume. But, because of the connectivity and online channels, a great idea does spread far and wide. Quality works.

The first reality is about embracing the idea that your content (be it text, audio, images or video) may not have the mass appeal that you think it should. Your job in content creation is about finding the people who do want to connect to it. It's about working and nurturing that group to ensure that you are getting in front of anyone and everyone who is interested in what you're doing.

Beyond that, you have to work on what your messaging is. Often, people want to know why they don't get that many comments on their Blog or why not many people are following them on Twitter. It's a hard thing to face or admit, but maybe your content is just not that appealing to a larger audience?

Do you change your content to make more people like you?

This is probably one of the hardest questions to answer. If you can change in a way that keeps you true and honest to the type of content you are trying to create, it might be worthwhile to spend some time tweaking and adjusting your content and measuring the results. The trick is in doing it while maintaining your authenticity.

It's a bad idea to change how you create content with the sole goal of trying to boost your numbers.

The second reality is about being comfortable with you who are - no matter how many (or few) people connect to it. Quality is subjective. My idea of quality content is dramatically different from yours. That's the magic of the online channel and that's the tragedy of it. The magic is that you can find whatever you are looking for (and if it doesn't exist, you can take the lead and make it happen). The tragedy of it is that people sometimes do equate quality to quantity (meaning, the content can only be good if many people are there and connecting to it).

Still, at the end of the day, great content wins. And, the best part about it is that it's also the one thing you can't fake.

By Mitch Joel


Comments Comments Feed
  • Posted by Bill Heaton
    Mitch Joel

    Mitch, great post on quality, especially the topic of being just who you are. I think people value genuineness, even if they don't agree with your values or opinions. It would be great to reduce the chatter all around; less messaging brings more value when the messages contain quality content. Perhaps making connections with fewer people, but opening up conversations with a more engaged audience would be more effective in creating online networks/channels.

    Reply
  • Posted by Rob Cotter
    Mitch Joel

    Quality seems to be mandatory at the onset. But when ubiquity crawls in, quality tends to suffer--likely due to contrived business decisions.

    I agree though: the highest quality will find an audience. There are too many 2nd and 3rd rate content producers these days.

    Also, numbers don't mean anything unless the eyeballs can be realistically monetized.

    Reply
  • I agree wholeheartedly with you - The content versus value paradigm has yet to be really understood. I discussed a similar thread on my blog with a posting on DRM

    http://tinyurl.com/dzjkwu

    "What I find interesting, is that content sharing models actively point out the systemic flaws in the free or paid battle. Free content has a greater value the more its shared. If it is viewed by precious few people, you can say its free because it has little value. However, recently, there are three youtube videos I have been talking a lot about. They are: 1. The Message 2. Generation We 3. Insurance Company Rules . I haven’t paid a cent for them, but I have told hundreds of people about them. The value of that content is determined by how broadly it is shared. Does the same hold true for a piece of music or is the value determined by how much I paid for it? I may listen to the song one time or 762 (preferably not all in one day.) Are we truly misaligned on how value accrues to content? When I look at models like Zuda Comics where the community tells the company how valuable something is, I think there is a better demonstration of market forces…"

    I think the same is true of twitter. I admit it, I actively follow people from whom I get great content and share great content when I get it. If that means I have a far smaller network, so be it. However, it means I get really good stuff, and the occasional fun distractions as well.

    Reply
  • Posted by Dave Perks
    Mitch Joel

    Hey Mitch,
    This is a great article about quality. There should be no argument that it's the essential ingredient to getting noticed, yet the fight persists.

    As a writer, I find myself in the position all too often of having to sift through the content that a client just got back from the SEO firm that they hired before they hired us to redesign. It's not easy telling someone they just shelled out thousands for worthless crap that just repeats keywords.

    I recently tackled this topic myself on our company blog in a post about the importance of well written content.

    Hopefully this line of thought will continue to take hold and out think the people who are stil trying to shout over top of it.

    Reply
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