The paradox of Internet content creation is this: the appetite for great content is enormous and seemingly endless, but great content cannot be rushed — when it is, you end up with a lot of the same stuff everywhere you go, only slightly different.
Consider this thought from MG Siegler of TechCrunch:
“The problem with the content rush is twofold. First, no one — and I mean no one — can possibly be an expert in all the things they’re attempting to cover. Good writers in the space may know one company inside and out. Great writers may know two. The very best may know enough about three or four companies/topics to be an authoritative writer on them.”
There’s no doubt that the biggest challenge facing everyone online is content creation that is original, compelling, and encourages users to do something.
After all, every tweet, every post, every blog, every ad is created with the same fundamental goal: to get a response.
Respond is an action verb, and that’s what we want.
We want comments, conversation, clicks, sales.
We want to be found, noticed, liked, hired.
We want our shit to go viral so we can become rich, famous, or, at the very least, the hero for the day.
Nothing more, nothing less.
This is why, when we are looking at a blank screen and feel the little beads of sweat forming on our brow to put something out there to keep the traffic machine humming, it becomes so very, very tempting to take someone else’s work and use it for our own. We tell ourselves no one will know. Everyone else does it, after all, why not us? Besides, it’s only this one time.
That kind of thinking can only lead to bad places. Look what happened to Bernie Madoff.
We covet other people’s content creation.
Anyone who creates content for the web has stared in the face of this monster.
These days, it’s so easy to copy, paste, and tweak other people’s content. Heck, there’s article spinning programs that do just that for us, promising record breaking results in record amounts of time. Who can resist those promises?
It’s also easy to create content around a hot idea or topic just for the sake of putting something out there about said hot idea or topic.
The truth is, because content creation takes time, and time is the enemy of feeding the insatiable online appetite, the temptation to copy, paste, and tweak is all the stronger.
But there’s a reason it’s more important than ever these days to slow down in order to for content creation to be really great. To resist the temptation to spin something that’s a “hot topic” just to get something “out there” for a quick fix of responses or traffic.
First, Google is on to us. Their latest algorithm is designed to reward original content and punish the super-spun same-old, same-old. This is good. While searching for information on dream homes, for example, no one wants to be subjected to pages and pages of keyword-stuffed garbage that was all the rage online not that long ago. (I expect Google will continue to refine their formula the deeper into the online forest we venture.)
Second, in a cookie cutter culture, people appreciate and crave originality. We want original voices, or at the very least, voices that remind us of our own. When everything online begins to blur together and it becomes harder and harder to discern one social media site from another, it’s so refreshing to land on content that challenges, inspires, entertains, and soothes the weary surfing soul. We love people who are real and not afraid to be who they are. Copy cats have a very short shelf life, and they have only one.
And we can spot them a mile away.
Finally, as the Internet continues to mature, users will become more sophisticated. This is already happening. Expectations are rising, and the people who rise to meet them will be rewarded handsomely over the plagiarists and quick-fix artists whose only motive is to stay one step ahead of Google’s algorithm.
It’s true that great content creation takes time, thought, and sweat equity. And sure, from time to time, spinning a post or tweet simply for the sake of getting a temporary surge in traffic may have its place in an overall online strategy. But great content creation (and the people behind it) is like fine wine — worth the wait and so much more memorable in the long run.