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A Value-Based Content Strategy

Are you overwhelmed by the web? I am. You probably are, too, but are a little afraid to admit it. Perhaps the better question would be, “How overwhelmed are you by the web?” The rate at which the web grows in content is astounding, and for those who try to keep up with a lot of content whether personally or professionally, it can feel frustrating, exhausting, even futile. That’s because it’s all of those things. Really, something’s got to give. So, I want to get real with our content: with the newsletters, the blog, my use of social media on behalf of Newfangled, all of it (hence the emotiface above).

Just to be clear, I’m not advocating giving this whole web thing up. Not even close. Newfangled is thriving today in a way unlike ever before, and I’m not about to bite the hand that feeds me. However, we are reaching a point at which our content strategy needs to change. For a while now, we’ve been operating at a crazy rate, adding sometimes more than several blog posts a day during the work week and a new newsletter and webinar every month, all of that on top of the actual work (web development and consulting) that we’re contracted to do. Busy isn’t the word; it’s something more than that. But now, I believe we need to think more in terms of value, not amount. This is easy to say- surely you’ve heard it before- but it’s much more difficult to actually believe in enough to do. I think most people would agree that quality is more important than quantity, but most people clearly don’t agree with this in practice. I’ve been guilty of this too and I want to change. Let me explain:

I tend to keep several things open throughout my day that help me to monitor what’s going on within my network: Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and Google Reader. These applications contain a bit of overlap (i.e. some of the same names/content in Twitter and Tumblr), but not a ton, so to say that I am inundated with content throughout the day would be an understatement. As a result, I feel a consistent anxiety, partly due to the pace of it all, but also because I can get swept up in the fear of not being able to keep up, not having my face pop up in other people’s Twitter/Facebook/Tumblr feed as often as those whom I’m connected to pop up in mine. It is discouraging when I face that my fear indicates a practical belief in quantity over quality. But when I stop to consider which people stand out from the crowd of my network, it’s always those people that post less, but more valuable content. Because “valuable” can be pretty subjective, let me elaborate on what I mean by “valuable.” Ultimately, it means an emphasis on longer, more specific thoughts, but when posting quick links or reposting, including an explanation as to why that content is valuable to them and even including their own thoughts on it. As an example, I’ve included a screenshot (below) of a post from a woman I follow on Tumblr named Nina, a smart, 20-year-old product design student at Stanford.

I don’t know Nina personally, nor can I even remember how I ended up finding her Tumblr page, but if all she ever posted was this kind of thing once a week, I’d still follow her and she’d still stand out. This “readings of the week” post does three particular things that make it valuable to me: (1) Nina’s descriptions actually inform me and help me to decide if I want to read the content she’s linking to, (2) it’s clear that she has actually read the content she’s linking to and cares enough about it to share it purposefully, and (3) this curated list tells me much more about Nina than if she’d simply pasted the links alone.

I believe that Newfangled consistently puts out high-quality content, but I want to make sure I’m using this quality model for everything I do- especially the stuff that is easy to just “keep up with”- the Tumblr, Twitter, Facebook kind of stuff. I think if we all did this, we’d stand to get much, much more from the web without the same potential of being frustrated, exhausted or jaded. What do you think?

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