Content vs. communication

With Monday’s public launch of Meet Content, a website devoted to all things related to content in higher ed web marketing, I thought it might be appropriate to revisit a post from earlier in the year that suggests content is not as important as some of us might think.

Back in January, Jae Kim wrote a post called It’s Not About Content; It’s All About Communication that attracted some attention on Social Media Today. Citing the success of Facebook, the failure of MySpace and a couple of studies that contradict the idea that “content is king,” Kim states that “enabling communication is really the key to harness the explosive network effect of social network.”

“Contrary to popular belief,” he writes, “they all talk about [how] content, as we know them, is not the king.”

My take on this is that it’s misleading to discuss content vs. communication. The two are so interwoven in any marketing effort that they cannot be separated. As one of the commenters on the Social Media Today post points out, “[W]ithout content of some shape or form, there is no communication. It’s just the content of the communication isn’t always consumable.”

It’s the second part of that comment that really matters to us, I think. Is our content worth consuming?

Whatever we’re putting out there — words, images, sounds — we’re asking people to invest their time. There’s a trade-off involved. Are we giving them something of value in exchange for their time?

If the content doesn’t offer something of value, then there is no need for the communication.

Am I right?


Author: andrewcareaga

Higher ed PR and marketing guy. Communications director for Missouri University of Science and Technology (Missouri S&T) in Rolla, Missouri, USA. Slow runner, mediocre guitarist, lover of music and puns, and an avid St. Louis Cardinals fan. I blog and Tweet about #highered, #music, #gocards and #random stuff.

8 thoughts on “Content vs. communication”

  1. Great topic, Andy :-)

    “Value” is one of my big words with regard to all things communications. If you’re not adding value or gaining value, communication is pretty much the equivalent of staring at each other and going “duhhhh.” In communication — whether it’s a tweet, a spoken sentence, a video, a memo, an e-mail, anything — content is the capsule in which value is either contained or absent. So valuable communication hinges on valuable content. Unless you’re into staring contests :-)

  2. I think you’re right on in stating if the content doesn’t have any value, it isn’t worth communicating. Unfortunately, not everyone puts that statement into practice and would rather hear themselves speak than reflect on whether what they’re saying actually means anything.

    And I, too, enjoyed the analogy. Great comment, Georgy.

  3. My two cents: Communication (and relationships) are important for spreading content far and wide. But content is King. As Andrew correctly points out: “Whatever we’re putting out there — words, images, sounds — we’re asking people to invest their time.”

    Think of it this way: DON’T put the cart (content) before the horse (communication).

    But DO build good, sound carts that add value, and people will want to hitch ’em to their horses. Because a shonky, boring cart ain’t going nowhere.

  4. I think the author is spot on. Content is awesome and VERY VERY VERY important, but if you have epic content that doesn’t get people talking, it doesn’t help.

    Conversely, if you have nothing but nonsense to communicate, there isn’t a package pretty enough to get me to listen to it for more than 30 seconds before I write you an email asking why you hate me.

    I think the missing link is CONTEXT.

    So, yes, focus on making epic content, then create CONTEXT for that content and that will get people talking. I would think this works 200% of the time and twice on Sundays.

    Without proper context, content doesn’t matter and communication won’t occur. What do you think?

  5. “Value” is in the eye of the beholder – relevancy is king. Today relevance is not only important, it’s expected. Relevance proves to your audience that you know who they are, you care who they are, and you value THEM by delivering information, commentary, entertainment, that matters most to them.

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