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  • Writer's pictureRon Jaworski

If content is king, consumption is the queen

Updated: Feb 10, 2022

A quarter of a century ago, in an essay introducing the internet and a new mode of consumption and production of information, Bill Gates famously wrote ‘Content is King’ essay, coining an ever-lasting phrase.

To this day, this notion can’t be more accurate.

“Success” on the Internet is heavily influenced by unique, high-quality, relevant, and interesting content.

Since the “old age” of the web, content has become democratized.

Almost everyone is a publisher these days, from brands to people on social media. It may not come as a surprise that two out of five people are content creators these days. The number of voices providing content has exploded, supported by low entry barriers in most channels.

Anyone can get involved easily. As a direct result, people and brands that didn’t have a voice before can be heard now. In fact, many creators or influencers are becoming their own brands, all thanks to their continual efforts to put out relevant content.

Every king needs a queen, and content has it in the form of consumption.

It’s not always a happy union, though.

Sure, the increase in consumption due to self-isolation and quarantine has boosted the demand for all kinds of media.

At the same time, the risk of content saturation grew too, with some content not getting the recognition it deserves. While quality content always tends to get more visibility than its mediocre counterpart, it’s an all too common occurrence for it to underperform because its delivery is not optimized.

Better yet, it’s not maximized.

The culture of content omnipresence

When it comes to content, a more accurate saying would be that quality content is king. Considering we’re living in an age of fake news and misinformation, quality content is more valuable than ever. But that same content is completely worthless if your audience can’t consume it.

First and foremost, your content needs to be accessible to be consumed.

Promoting it on your social media profiles, via newsletter, or highly-trafficked pages are all good practices.

But there’s a new player on the field, one whose popularity is growing by the day, due to audience demand.

You’ve probably guessed it – that player is audio.

The way people are consuming media has slowly changed. Nowadays consumers of content expect part of their experience to be an audio one. Audio offers a wide array of emerging formats such as short-form audio, for example. Audiences are engaging with the medium in an entirely different way than traditional media.

Compared to formats like video and text, audio content has a passive nature. This makes engaging with it while managing other activities a very appealing proposition because it enables consuming it throughout the day. That can’t be done with written and video content that demand undivided attention.

These are the types of nuances within evolving media habits that need to be properly addressed.

Whether it’s textual, video, audio, interactive, through your website or smart assistants, on mobile or desktop, multilingual, and so on – leverage the relevant formats and channels so that your target audience can consume it however they feel like it.

Expand your horizons. Have your content available where and how your audiences want to consume it.

The queen’s gambit

Thanks to technology, there are more opportunities than ever to expose your brand and business to your target audience.

Content has outgrown traditional user behaviors. As channels, platforms, and devices continue to proliferate, the opportunity grows to create a more aligned voice for your brand.

And people want content in all shapes and sizes. That is arguably the biggest change since 1996 when Gates penned his essay. The type of content has evolved dramatically, supported by new technologies.

The underlying message of this tech-driven transformation of the media ecosystem is very clear, or at least should be to content publishers of all shapes and sizes: now is the time to innovate to keep up with media’s evolution.

Otherwise, there is an inherent risk of being left behind.

The case for audio consumption

More and more content publishers are thinking about content from a different angle – an audio experience. In a way, that makes sense considering the principal use of visual content and the way people link it to engagement. Yet, historically speaking, audio is one of the most traditional and popular multimedia on the Internet for various reasons.

The focus on the written word online is understandable for various reasons, starting with text being the predominant way to make websites indexable and findable for people to find them through search engines.

This is where it gets interesting. More and more people are driven towards consuming content via their eardrums, and at the same time, search engines are putting an emphasis on user experience. The convergence of both facts leads to a very realistic hypothesis that websites not offering a listening experience will soon not be ranked high up on search engines.

As the age of audio continues full speed ahead, there’s never been a more opportune time to take full advantage of it than now. The exciting thing is there’s plenty of room for experimentation and adjustment to realize its full potential.

Final thoughts

I don’t think Bill Gates ever envisioned just how fundamental the phrase he coined would become.

Two and a half decades after, much has changed yet content still reigns supreme.

In reaching desired audiences, some brands and businesses are more dynamic and responsive, especially since the onset of the pandemic caused digital media consumption to skyrocket across a multitude of channels and platforms.

That’s not going to change any time soon. As Neil Patel put it – content is expanding its royal family. And we all know who runs the world.

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