What’s The Big Deal About Sharing?


The ease of finding and distributing content on the web makes it easy to forget how holding things back has value.

We already expect editors to be busy making any content item more appropriate to what users want or should have. But that work doesn’t predetermine who will eventually acquire the content or use it.

And sure, we don’t usually need any reminders about the value of privacy or confidentiality. But why hold back things that don’t need that kind of protection?

In the vast world of web access, content makers are interested in publicity for their content. The popular saying of a content maker is, only a bit jokingly, that “all publicity is good publicity.” This is a premium benefit of content sharing, but sharing doesn’t create more value unless it causes the recipients to interact with each other.

Let’s take a look at the most common interactions.

Most of the time, people have their highest enthusiasm for the practical ability to find things without prior knowledge of where to look. Content Shopping is easily the reason why Google, Pandora, Wikipedia, and other such discovery applications are the giants of their respective fields. The obvious benefit: they can handle a universe of content that continually expands and transforms at a far greater pace than any one person can keep up with.

Now, more and more, Content Marketing is being promoted to the shoppers as their own next greatest strategy. The theory of sharing is that content shoppers will, in effect, recruit each other as search partners, by advertising to each other the results and prowess of their own respective discovery efforts. This “crowd-sourcing” is not primarily about getting “more” content exposed; instead, it is really about needing less content to sort through, by increasing the level of effort going into selectivity. No wonder, then, that Pinterest, Facebook, Instagram, and other tools are leading in popular usage.

Not far behind content marketing is the realization that most content shoppers and content marketers belong to more than one “community of interest”. In fact, there are multiple communities with the same interest, and there are multiple interests within the same community. This steers our attention to Content Rating, because the number of communities and number of interests both keep expanding to the point where the overall volume of their content can overwhelm our attention span. By analogy, we don’t want to have to deal with everything in any store; instead, we just want to get the best of every store, so we actually want some evaluation to precede our search. The natural followup to having confidence in the ratings from evaluations is to take a subscription to the mechanism that does the rating. We’re ready to “follow” its lead through the diverse environment of content alternatives. Whether we follow a person or an algorithm, the intent is the same. No wonder that recommendation features easily power Netflix, Amazon, Reddit, and other huge content repositories to an almost indispensable status despite their vastly heterogeneous content collections.

All of that effort provides more power to give existing content publicity, helping more of it to find an audience.

But in fact, the progression from discovery to sharing to subscribing is one that features an increasing amount of restriction on the world of at-large content.

Content Campaigning

Not accidentally, we experience that progressive increase in restriction as an increase of intelligence. The key aspect of that intelligence is its ability to maximize the selection of content that is most relevant to ourselves. That is, the effect of restraining the availability of content is an increase in its value.

A content provider has two ways to think about using restraint to increase the value of publicity.

One way is to leave the content available only to those parties that will make the effort to overcome the restraint. Access is the focus.

The other way is to reserve the content availability for intentional occasions instead of for all occasions. Targeting is the focus.

For the provider, the interesting strategy is to make access to the targeted content an event.

Routinely thinking of content as the basis for an event is mainly what distinguishes mere publicity from publishing. A strategic planner of “content events” is a role that makes the best use of the discovery, marketing and rating already likely to be occurring in any arena where “public” or “community” access is the default.

We know that content sharing is now a permanent feature of its availability. But ultimately, having a publisher drive the sharing is more valuable and more reliable to the content maker than is the popular but unrestrained social sharing that, as it turns out, recreates the overload of content we thought sharing would help relieve.

eXie is a new online self-service solution for planning, cataloging and publishing curated collections of online content to designated groups of content users.