The content creator’s dilemma

Author: Linda Holliday

The decline of the public web. The rise of the walled gardens.

For the web’s first 10 years, with the exception of AOL and email, the majority of time spent online was in public places. Websites were occasionally password protected but largely open, easily linked, and democratized by HTML. Enter MySpace, the Apple ecosystem, Facebook, Twitter, ChatFrankly…each a walled garden. Each with its community. But what if your community spans all of the above?

They are different kingdoms with different rules and different transportation systems. Each promotes platform-centrism. Make it native! Be exclusive! Lose your links! We keep the address book, we change the rules! We don’t like that size or your data collection.

For a user it’s not too complicated to select a few platforms, use them in specific ways (Facebook for family, Instagram for friends, email for work), and occasionally lob something over the walls.


Distribution is the new orange.

But for a content creator, individual, or larger entity, this is a super-pain-in-the-butt!

The “What” –the message, the conversation—is the whole point, but the “How” –the delivery—is becoming the deal breaker.  “Content is king, distribution is queen, and she wears the pants,” said Jonathan Perelman, VP at BuzzFeed, as quoted by Brian Honigman.

A small voice with a small audience has a small challenge. A big company with many voices and many audiences — and valuable Brand equity and a legal department — has a big problem. Valuable branded assets, that we love, are just too expensive to use one time, one place, and generate a truly compelling ROI. No matter how you measure it.

Thus, content distribution has become a multi-modality problem for content creators that want to participate across these restricted environments.

What was the multi-modality solution for physical goods? Shipping containers. Planes, trains and trucks? Good to go.

What is the solution for digital goods? Cards. Shipping containers for content. Web, native, social, mobile? Check.

At a minimum, a card-based system establishes a standard format. Distribution pathways can now be travelled more easily. Which cards do we feature on Facebook? Which cards go in an app?

But the fun doesn’t stop there. Marketers and communicators have to know not just which platforms connect and deliver, but which messages perform. In a perfect world, all messages would be interoperable, collect data, and report back.

Intelligent message tracking is feasible but hard. Varying standards, fluctuating APIs, data collection blockades, escalating user expectations. Not to mention brand and agency legacy tech, and uneven understanding and goals. Few companies have the resources to do it all or the ability to justify growing budgets.

Cards with built-in intelligence — smart cards — take this high-labor mess and make it manageable and scalable. For brands with big audiences, spanning different tech kingdoms (as Perelman might agree) the future is in the cards.

You may also like: Understanding the future of the Web: it’s cards everywhere

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