Content’s Crystal Ball
Being in and around the content business, I’m already convinced that content is the future.
I live it everyday. As the CEO of USTREAM, I see the power of live content as it allows anyone (content creators to enterprises) to transform their vision into something that can be easily consumed in real time by customers, employees and stakeholders around the world.
This is what USTREAM does, this is what we believe. Content is powerful, and the platform is the conduit. LIVE Content is the most engaging of them all. Bottom line, when it comes to content, I’m sold which is why I find it funny when people are still out there talking about content being the future.
Maybe this type of conjecture seems edgy or risky, but I think it is soft selling something that is glaringly obvious. Content isn’t the future. Content is now, today, the present- We are living through one of the most significant content explosions since the advent of the TV.
Content Comes in Many Shapes and Sizes
A lot of people think of specific mediums like “blogging” as content, however content comes in many forms. I happen to like live video because it is so powerful, engaging and it is proven to have the highest engagement. I admit I may be biased when it comes to content. There are precisely 3 ways that I love to consume content.
1. Live Video
2. Live and Streaming Video
3. Live, Streaming and On-Demand Video.
I bet no one could have guessed that right? But hey, if I didn’t feel this way, I may be the wrong man for the job.
However, content can be written, recorded, podcasted, tweeted, faxed or telegraphed. Fact of the matter is we engage with a proverbial shit ton of content everyday and it is precisely how we gather our information about the world that surrounds us.
Think about life before everyone was on the internet. Where did you get your content? How did you stay up to date with what was going on in the world?
If you were like me and most others my age and older, you read the newspaper, watched television programming, and that comprised your knowledge base. This level of unawareness led to a type of ignorance that was probably comforting for many, but in the end just meant that most people really didn’t have a clue what was going on in the world. And most the content we consumed was controlled by a ridiculously small number of writers or editors.
Enter a World With Content
Today we enter a world where someone important sneezes and we hear about it, assuming that we want to. EVERYONE is a content creator or an editor.
The beauty of content nowadays is that it is so widely available that we can pick and choose what we want to consume. If we keep our antenna’s up intelligently we can be highly informed about everything from world events to Friday Night Lights.
This level of accessibility is changing the world beneath us and for some of us we don’t even see it happening. Consider the following examples.
The Arab Spring
People want to attribute Facebook to the government revolution in Egypt. But Facebook is just the platform. It was the content, accessibility to information and the people’s willingness to act on the content that brought the resignation of a country’s leader. USTREAM shared in this event as well with citizen journalists streaming the movement live from the Arab Spring.
Thanks to content, President Barack Obama took to the Interwebs to bridge the gap between the country’s traditional voting class and the growing population of millennials who often disappear come election time. Obama’s content brought out a historically undecided and unresponsive group of voters to the polls in 2008 and 2012.
Do you remember the “Occupy Wall Street” movement? The web was overtaken by content and everyone with a video phone could contribute. One 24-year-old with an iPhone drew in 2 million live viewers as he broadcast live; from an iPhone?! Soon after, Tim Pool was featured as “The Media Messenger of Zuccotti Park” in Time’s Person of the Year 2011. Impressive.
Beyond Media, Content Changing the Face of Enterprise
Let’s not forget for one second how content is changing the enterprise.
From small businesses up to the Fortune 500, companies are creating so much content so fast that the biggest challenge for the consumer is determining which content to engage and which to omit. Would you be surprised if I told you that “Red Bull” now creates more content than “Disney” online? And what about the meteoric rise of CMO’s becoming media companies as their number one job becomes creating and sharing content both internal to the organization and with external stakeholders like customers and shareholders? (Stay tuned: I’ll be talking more about this soon)
Nevertheless, the amount of information is arming the consumer with the tools to become better buyers. This is also giving organizations that understand content a way to provide influential information without ever asking for a sale. Which is precisely why content is so powerful! The consumer wants to like you, trust you and feel that you offer something of value far before you speak to them. What does a better job of accomplishing this than content?
Seeing the Forest Through the Garbage
Of course there is a downside to content. Like everything, there is always someone to piss in your cheerios so I may as well be the one to do it.
In a world of cheap applications and production tools that turn everybody with a webcam into a major media outlet, you are bound to run into your fair share of puke-worthy content.
It doesn’t really matter what the subject is. If you doubt this for a second, take a moment to search something crazy, for instance “Starting a company and raising VC money is easy!” Guess what? I bet you will find someone that has written about it.
It shouldn’t matter though, because there are plenty of filters for the noise, so long as you know what you are looking for. There are no bounds to the amount of content that will be produced. Good, bad and everywhere in between. The platforms will keep enhancing consumption and the creators will keep bringing the material.
One thing is for sure though, content isn’t the future. Content is the now. Platforms need to evolve to keep up with a content universe of infinite possibilities, and that’s where I fit in. Welcome to now.
Brad Hunstable is the CEO of USTREAM, one of the leaders in online streaming media for enterprise and consumers around the world. USTREAM was listed as #343 on the 2013 Inc. 500. Brad originally published this post on Medium and it can be found here. It has been shared with his permission.