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Staying Connected Without Losing Connection

Sometimes it’s a lot easier to read something than to hear. If you are given bad news, or having to say something hard. It can feel easier behind the safety of a screen. You can take your time, and craft what you think is the perfect response. Plus any potential backlash will be delayed.

I’ve had some experiences a few years ago which involved some differences between a friend and myself. I asked to call them, but they said they wouldn’t be comfortable speaking over the phone. I insisted another time, but I didn’t want to pressure them. I ended up settling with texting, and quickly things fell apart.

We ended up focusing on different parts of what the other person was texting, and what started as short texts turned into long paragraph attempting to address everything the previous person had written.

Now, if I have to have a serious conversation with someone I feel I have to do it in person or over the phone.

What is Missing?

This sounds like a silly question, but it’s important to understand exactly what is different in order to make an informed decision about how you are communicating.

No Tone

The biggest difference is written word lacks vocal tone. It’s hard to know how someone will read your tone through text.

“Awesome.” vs. “awesome” or “Okay.” vs. “ok”

They’re the same words with the same meanings

The greatest writers can’t always account for the exact ways words are interpreted. Everyone has different experiences and associations with words. This can lead to situations where someone thinks you are speaking in a way you’re not.

According to a Psychology Today article written by Melissa Ritter this can be because we often fill in the blanks in tone with our own feelings when there is nothing else to go on. She give the example, if you already think you’re being criticized you’ll read the words in a criticizing tone.

No Pacing

Communication over text can fall apart as people in the conversation focus on different parts of the text. Focusing on something the other person might not be, and unlike real time conversation it can be hard to address all of the topics in each text.

But, I think that this is starting a dangerous trend. I think that it’s having people be too uncomfortable to interact with people face to face, and to deal with the real world in real time.

I understand I sound a bit like a tinfoil hat wearing old man, but I think that it is important because I find that I’m guilty of occasionally hiding behind a screen like anyone.

A great quote from Reclaiming Conversation by Sherry Turkle, a sixteen year old described using computers versus real-life.

“Real people, with their unpredictable ways, can seem difficult to content with after one has spent a stretch in simulation.”

That description is hyperbolic, but I think there is a grain of truth in there. The ability to take you time, the ability to handcraft what might be the perfect message may just be stifling the ability to actually have these conversations.

What Can Help?

Understanding the time and place for text is the first step in understanding how to use it effectively. Texting people is great, I’d dare to say that 60% of my conversations recently have been over text.

I do not think these issues are coming from a loss of human connection. According to this 2015 CSU study people don’t lose empathy because of online communication.

Now with social distancing, I think would be a good time for people to practice talking face to face using technology. The ability to contact with family, and friends is fantastic. Technology should assist you in situations, not make it worse.

Movement, Presence, and V.R

Have you ever been playing a game or watching a movie and get really focused? While your attention is on the screen the rest of the world starts to fade out of your consciousness. Until you’re suddenly snapped back to reality because something broke your attention.

This phenomenon is known as presence. It occurs when you are aware you are using technology, but the outside world does not play a factor into the engrossed experience you are having. We’re used to tuning out the world while looking at a screen, but now Virtual Reality headsets are trying to take this experience to the next level.

Virtual Reality has been a culture fascination since tech began its continuous creep into our daily lives. Now we are starting to see some of the first fully realized consumer grade virtual reality machines. With these new machines are new ways people are trying to tell stories.

Wonderfully Dated to The Mid 90’s

V.R has a lot of potential to take advantage of these engrossing experiences, and companies are already jumping on the innovation train. There have already been breakout successes in the form of Accounting (made by Justin Roiland), Beat Saber, and most recently Half Life: Alyx released by Valve.

For those who are unfamiliar, Valve Software has a reputation for being a leader in innovation in the gaming space. They produced Half Life in 1998 to critical and commercial claim. It was praised for its lack of cut-scenes and instead favoring keeping the player in control. Telling the story from a first person view that kept the player immersed in the game.

At One Point The Peak of Horror-Action Immersion

Half Life: Alyx has lived up to its predecessors by being a major innovation in what V.R gaming can be.

One major feature is how Alyx handles movement. V.R games have been experimenting with different ways players can traverse these digital worlds in a way that feels natural. Alyx gives 3 options that are all polished with sound effects, and additional feedback to maintain a sense of presence in the game.

The Various Options Given to The Player

The team also took care to examine how players reacted to different U.I. in the game. Changing the standard drag and drop marker for the movement to your feet. Giving body and weight to the character as they moved. Despite the player character teleporting, and physical player not moving an inch. The small details manage to keep a sensory presence that has the player grounded in the world they’re playing in.

The Movement Marker in Game

Some would say this is the first AAA experience in the V.R space. It is a masterclass in capturing

Personally, I have not played Half Life: Alyx. I don’t own a V.R machine, and due to quarantine, am unable to visit friends who do. I’d love to get a chance to play the game, and experience just how lost I could get in a world built on a platform that is able to provide such a visceral experience.

If anyone has gotten chance to play the game, I would love to hear about you experiences with it.

Data, Data Everywhere and Not a Drop to Drink

How much of your data do you think is still floating around online? Not just the pictures you’ve uploaded, and not just the documents you’ve written. All of the data. It’s very difficult to picture, and frankly there isn’t a great estimate, but according to the 6th edition of the Data Never Sleeps report there will be “1.7MB of data will be created every second for every person on earth.”

That is roughly a 1:42 of quality mp3 for every second for every person.

You have very little control over this data, especially in the United States. Recent scandals such as the Cambridge Analytica scandal have shown just how much power this data can have. So, isn’t it time to try to take some control of your own data?

When people think of data collection images of “your FBI officer” spying on you through a camera on your laptop with hundreds of monitors looking at everyone around the world.

In reality it’s not tied to your specific name, the companies might not know who you are exactly, but what they do know is what trends you follow through stuff like IP addresses. They look for what bucket you fit in. By grouping people this way they’re able to try and influence these groups more effectively.

Because of this power data has become more valuable than oil. It’s being used to power everything from AI to ads. So, what can we do to protect how its used?

The E.U. responded by creating a series or regulations to protect the way user data is used by companies. These regulations ensures protection of users data including their race, political views, bio-metrics, and other personally identifiable data. As well as major fines for violating the regulations for any company operating in the E.U.

A wonderful step forward for data protection in my eyes. The United States so far has no similar plans, and is currently relying on corporation’s self regulation. However, many people are looking at the issue critically.

Many people are getting behind data ownership. However, many experts disagree and say that ownership might make existing problems worse. The spirit is coming from the right place. I personally think people like the idea of ownership because to them owning something means you have rights to it.

In his book, Privacy in the New Media Age, Jon L. Mills sets up a framework for a bill of data rights with six principals (and my explanations):

  • Sanction disclosure of certain intimate facts.
  • Utilize and adapt existing torts
    • (transfer over laws already dealing with infringements of rights in a civil law setting)
  • Utilize law punishing intrusions upon space, property, and personal information.
    • (treat digital intrusions like you would someone walking into your house and taking your birth certificate)
  • Avoid initial disclosure of sensitive information.
    • (Don’t have companies compile this sensitive data in the first place)
  • Punish defamation including outrageous falsity.
    • (Punish the spread of false information similar to libel)
  • Promote and support media creating self-defining ethical standards that include new media. 
    • (Create self defined ethics boards similar to the already established media business)

I think that this frame work is great place to start. I’m personally wary of the self-regulation due to how that has gone thus far. If it is enforced like the MPAA then it might work.

The best thing is people are having the conversation now. A few years ago people had no idea the power this data had. We’re in sore need of regulations and limits on how this can be used to affect us. The only way it will happen is for people to be educated and be able to discuss the best paths forward. So, what do you think? I’d be happy to hear your thoughts.

How do you do, fellow consumers?

Connecting with your audience is one of the most important things you can do as an advertiser. Customers are more likely to buy from someone they feel understands them. In the modern day companies can connect to individuals over social media, engaging with an audience in a way they never have in the past.

Social media is quickly becoming an essential part of businesses everywhere. But the internet is a new and difficult beast. Some companies have a hard time connecting with their digital audience without seeming 45 year-old Dad trying to join an inside joke with a group of middle schoolers.

An entire subreddit dedicated to mocking these companies

Meme’s can be difficult to understand. They’re a unique form of expression that are hypertextual, and can go out of fashion fairly quickly. On the internet they are a measure of cultural capital. They show that the user understands the many layers of a relateable message. They’re so numerous that it’d be almost impossible for someone to keep up with every single one, but most people are aware of the most popular ones circulating at any time.

There are plenty of examples of corporate social media accounts trying to be with it, but by then the internet has changed what it is. If a social media account doesn’t have a finger on the pulse they often times come off as disingenuous. Many of these memes miss the joke, or completely misunderstand the contextual meaning of the meme. The life cycle of a meme can be difficult to predict. They may die in the span of a week then show back up two months later with a new spin.

Not all companies are hopeless, some are very good at it. I’ve previously written about Wendy’s fantastic online presence. Other brands manage to become the meme’s themselves, an evnyable position to be sure.

I took my obscure company and fixed using only Flex Tape

It’s important to understand that this kind of social capital can’t be faked. It’s easy to spot a faker, and even easier to spot a brand trying to force themselves to be a meme.

The best advice to connect with a consumer base it to be genuine on these platforms. For a corporation this means to provide genuinely good content. People like to share what they enjoy seeing. Consistent quality from a company’s social media is the best remedy to fix the perception that a company is out of touch.

Intimate Podcasts, Parasocial Relationships

At this most people are familiar with the concept of podcasting. It hearkens back to the beginnings of live mass media with the radio, an auditory performance for entertainment, news or information being distributed to an audience of listeners. Podcasts are a new evolution in the auditory media instead of being produced by stations with license over the airwaves, they’re now being made in makeshift studios in closets, and distributed over the internet. The bar for entry has been lowered to the point where anybody can make a podcast if they’d like.

Which is great, creators get more freedom, and more people are able to express themselves in ways they want. You feel like you really get to know some of these people. In fact many people feel that way, and it can become a bit of an issue.

These connections are known as parasocial relationships, they refer to a one way relationship created between a media consumer, and a media figure. It is a one sided bond, the viewer might learn a lot about someone by watching them, and might feel closer or connected to them. However, there is no real relationship since the person being viewed does not have a mutual bond back. Its the stereotypical obsessed fan situation.

Artist

The Internet and on demand access has changed a lot of things about our media consumption including this parasocial engagement. One study specifically took a look at how, and why these relationships are being formed. They found a number of possible influences.

  1. A Sense of Authenticity: It no longer takes an audio expert to record their voice and get it heard buy thousands. Its people who might be more relatable than the over the top radio host. The study found that markers of authenticity such as ad libing, and witty banter helped audiences feel more connected to the hosts.
  2. Controlling Your Listening Habits: Both the study, and this New York Times article found that because listeners are able to control when they listen these relationships feel like they deepen due to the frequency and dependability of being able to tune in.
  3. Routine: This is almost a 2.5, but since podcasting is an audio based platform it opens the door to being played while doing other tasks. Doing the laundry, or driving home from work feels like less of a chore if you’re able to tune into some voice actors playing make believe. It doesn’t take much effort from the listener to engage, which allows it to be consumed more readily than a movie.
  4. Feeling Current: When podcaster’s record they often refer to what is going on in the moment they are recording. This helps viewers feel like they are present in the moment. The study refers to the “spatial deixis“, and it allows the listeners to feel more physically and emotionally present.
Teach your prop building ways Savage myth-man

So, why am I writing about this? Well, its important to understand why you might be feel a certain way about actors or hosts (or if you ever find yourself fawning over your favorite Mythbuster). But also because parasocial relationships are starting to be used for more for business. This article on businessgrow.com talks about how the author has used this for his own business.

Bo Burnham even replied to a heckler who says she loves him with,

“You love the idea of me, you don’t know me but that’s okay It’s called a parasocial relationship It goes one way and it’s ultimately destructive. But please, keep buying all my shit forever.”

Its important to understand how things affect you, this isn’t to say you shouldn’t like hosts or actor, but you should understand where your emotions are coming from or even how they might be being used. After all if you think you have a relationship with someone, you’ll be far more engaged than someone who doesn’t.

Animal Crossing & Programmed Representation

Animal Crossing is a life-sim, or life simulator, where you take the role of a villager who has just moved to a town inhabited by animals. You purchase a house, take out a mortgage, help to improve the town, and the lives of your animal neighbors. It’s meant to be a simple gameified representation of life. However, when some aspects key aspects about a person’s life are excluded then you have to ask the question of how that affects the player.

Games are unique because they are a medium which is created by one person for the purpose of having another person interact with it. Games represent limitless possibilities in some cases (Minecraft is a great example). But even in games with endless possibilities there is a place where it must end. Games are confined to how they’ve been coded.

A long time ago I heard a great explanation for how this concept works in game design. In real life when you play soccer you don’t pick up the ball because you, and the other players have agreed that you cannot do that. You obviously can if you wanted to. However, in FIFA you don’t pick up the ball because you literally cannot. There are no buttons that allow you to do that. You are limited by what the programmers thought of, and what they intended for you to do.

Animal Crossing was first released in North America in 2001. I have lot of very early memories with the game (I could go off on a long tangent just about them), but I really connected with the game. But the game was limited in some ways that I was just not conscious of at the time due to being well represented. The first Animal Crossing randomly assigns you a character at the start of the game. You choose male or female, but hair color, eye color, and the way your face looked were pseudo-random. One option that there was no way of affecting was the color of your character’s skin.

You could tan yourself in later games, but it was a hidden mechanic that required a decent amount of work

The game gives all players the same pale white complexion, with no way of modifying it. At the time I didn’t notice, after all I was being represented. Last post I wrote about how when the overwhelming majority of games represent a white male it causes those who play the games to feel like that is the expected default. In all aspects of gaming this is a big issue, but I would argue in life-sims it has even more of an impact.

A study done by Stanford looked at what they called the “Proteus Effect” which is the effect an avatar had on the player controlling them. They found often times players would inhabit and adapt to traits that they perceive the avatar to have. Often times self stereotyping based on what they think they should be.

Player’s were able to use a work around for representation Animal Crossing: New Leaf utilizing the Mii’s

When it comes to games like Animal Crossing the goal is to have a relaxing time connecting with animals, and watering flowers. But if someone feels misrepresented, it’s going to have an effect on how they perceive themselves. Games such as the Sims have been studied and found similar results. Players want to be able to represent and ideal form of themselves.

Flash forward to March 20th, 2020, Animal Crossing: New Horizons is released and for the first time in the game’s 20 year run you are finally able to select your complexion. Not only that, but there are extremely flexible options for gender presentation. You can wear any clothes you want men can wear dresses, and you can even switch your “setting” (they don’t even call it gender) at any time.

An official screenshot showing off all of the many options for player’s to make their own character

It’s a massive step in the right direction in representing people in a place that is meant to be a relaxing approximation of your life. With how Nintendo has handled the newest entry it gives me hope that for greater changes going forward.

Sexism in Gaming Culture

Sexism is extremely prevalent in the gaming industry. At this point this is not revolutionary research, but it’s a fact that bears repeating until it’s no longer a fact. It is seen at every level of the community, and it acts as a barrier for those who would be interested in the hobby.

The gaming community has the stigma of being a boys club. Often times in media even outside of gaming, the general stereotype of a gamer is usually a teenaged or young adult white male. Within gaming culture there is a mentality that by opening the doors to others their hobby is being ruined.

The first picture used on the “Gamer” Wikipedia article

Representation

There is an overwhelming discrepancy between representation in gaming and the groups that play them. Roughly half of all gamers are women, but the medium does not reflect this. At this past year’s E3 about 22% of the games shown had an exclusively male protagonist while only 5% had an exclusively female protagonist.

Statistic From E3 2019

While many games shown allowed the choice of protagonist (a major step in the right direction) this gives the impression that male characters in games are the default unless you are given the explicit choice. The lacking representation causes stereotypes about the roles women play in gaming to be reinforced.

Exclusionary Mentality

On May 28, 2018 publisher EA released the trailer to the next entry in the popular Battlefield franchise. The game was to take place during World War II, a familiar setting for a lot of FPS games, in the trailer it revealed that women would be soldiers in the game. This caused an uproar within the community who claimed the game was sacrificing realism in the name of “SJW”s. The official reveal trailer posted on YouTube has a cesspool of sexist comments in the chat, and a massive amount of dislikes on the video. 

Cover Image From Battlefield V

However, this wasn’t the first time EA had a supposedly controversial decision. When the previous, Battlefield 1 (Yes, 1 is right before 5. Yes, that is very confusing and dumb) featured black soldiers fighting in WWI there was a disturbingly similar outcry about a lack of realism. Both of these games take massive liberties with a number of historical facts, however, the inclusion of female, and black soldiers aren’t among them.

Exclusionary mentality extends to interactions by the players themselves. In a study researches used prerecorded male and female voices while playing an online multiplayer game. They found that the female was three times more likely to result in harassment, and hate speech.

Expected Roles and Performances

The mentality that surrounds gaming prevents many women from being able to enjoy the hobby. The idea that women “don’t play”, “are bad at”, or “are ruining games” leads to massive effects on the mental health of those who hear this. The concept of interpellation explains that by being labeled in these ways the subjects of this speech will begin to accept and act in the way it addresses them.

Even in situations where ability are equal women will often perceive themselves as less skilled and have lower levels of participation. When the societal expectation is “women don’t play video games” it creates an expectation that people begin to identify with, regardless of its legitimacy.

The Real world

I want to finish this article with an anecdote that will hopefully give an example on how pervasive this sexist culture even in small acts within the industry. 

I have a very small part in the games industry. I specifically work for a small independent card game. The game was designed, created, and sold by two very talented women. I help them out selling and demoing the games at conventions. At conventions its not uncommon for journalists and players to try to speak with the games creator to ask a couple questions. At minimum, once per convention I will have a reporter come up to me asking me about how I designed my game, or go up to either of my friends and ask them if the I could spare a moment to speak to them. This on the grand scale of things is a small infraction, but it’s indicative of a culture that assumes the default face of the industry is a man.

I’ve only been working a bit part in this industry for a brief amount of time, and I won’t have nearly the experience or perspective as the people who are actually targeted by this behavior. I did find a great article while researching if you’re interested in different perspective on this topic.

The Difficult Task of Leaving the World Alone

Sometimes it can be hard to leave social media alone, even if it’s just for a few hours while you type something out. You put your phone on silent, and stick it in your pocket. But you get that itch and suddenly you end up scrolling through Twitter. You might have a little voice in the back of your head saying “You’re so easily distracted. Whats wrong with me?” You’re not the only one and I hope I can explain some of that guilt away.

How many group projects end up like this?

What you’re falling victim to is exactly what social media is deigned to do. Sites like Facebook, Reddit, and Instagram are constantly fighting to use up as much of your time and attention as possible. Social media sites have tapped into the way our brains reward us to make each app feel “rewarding” and engaging. 

“The short-term, dopamine-driven feedback loops we’ve created are destroying how society works,” said Chamath Palihapitiya the former VP of User Growth at Facebook. Social media sites tap into the same biological trigger that gets gambling addicts to sit in front of the slots for hours. 

While you passively scroll through your feed, you see small things that interest you, little facts to learn, and things to process. All of this gives you little doses of dopamine as you refresh the page to see if anything is there hot off the presses. That burst of dopamine is what rewards the brain, and keeps people scrolling. 

Why Are You Using Social Media?

It’s important to look at why you are using social media to understand why you have a hard time resisting it. The Theory of Uses and Gratifications suggests that social media fills a number of needs like expressive, informational, social, and self needs. Most of the time sites can be meeting multiple of these needs at one time. When these needs are met, the dopamine is released and presto; you want to look at more content.

I love News brand news.

Are you on Twitter to read the news? Or did you open Instagram to look at an outfit layout? There are a thousand reasons you might want to open a social media site, but its important to keep in mind the goal you had when you first opened the app.

Passive Consumption

If you’re looking at what passes by on the feed, occasionally liking something, but mostly lurking. That is passive usage, and it has more of an effect than you might think. A 2015 study by Kross and Verduyn showed that just using Facebook passively for 10 minutes could cause you to feel worse than if you hadn’t opened it at all.

This negative reaction is thought to be caused by social comparison. Where upon seeing the best parts of someones life through their posts. You end up negatively comparing it to your own life. This leaves a feeling of dissatisfaction and envy.

Using Social Media With Purpose

Now that all the cards are on the table, it’s time to sort them out and with our new understanding help ourselves out of this dopamine fueled distraction minefield. 

A place to begin is by paying attention to why you’re on a site. If you’re just idly scrolling looking at the same posts, you might be falling victim to that content cycle. 

Instead try to ask yourself, “Why am I looking at this?” and “What do I want to see?”. Try to engage with the SNS that you are using, post comments, talk to friends, and interact with the communities you’re apart of.

Of course there’s nothing wrong with a bit of idle scrolling, but it helps to give yourself checks so you don’t end up wasting hour of time on something that at the end of the day is making you feel worse about yourself.

Dungeons & Dragons & The Spread

Limitations of Locations

One of the most limiting factors for community growth is location, and reach. If a community is located in an area where there aren’t many people, it can’t grow very much. And if the community lacks reach it can’t bring in more people to help add to those numbers, and it can’t expand.

When the internet came along it changed both of those in a major way.  Suddenly location didn’t matter. Did you have a computer and an internet connection? Then you might as well be sitting face to face. The internet extended the reach of communities to thousands of eyes, unlike anything before. This change can be seen affecting many communities, but none like the renaissance of Dungeons & Dragons.

Mike, Lucas, and Will playing D&D in Stranger Things Season 3

Dungeons & Dragons or D&D is often seen in pop culture in the hands of nerds. The ultimate showing in all things geeky with players like the protagonists of Stranger Things, or Comic Book Guy. D&D is at an all time high in popularity, shedding the stigma that its loners in basements muttering to themselves. Which has been in large part because of the transformation of communication through the internet.

First, what is D&D? D&D is a tabletop role playing game, which means players sit around a table rolling dice, and acting as characters in a fantasy world. Exploring dungeons, solving puzzles, and completing quests that a game runner (called a Dungeon Master) sets up. D&D combines many aspects of fantasy fiction into one package. It has a wide scope of adventures for players to slay dragons, befriend goblins, or liberate castles. It’s almost difficult to say what is possible in D&D because the only limit is your imagination. 

Set of Standard Dice, a miniature, and an over-sized D20

But a very real limit in D&D is being able to show up at a table and play the game, as the term Tabletop RPG might imply. Pre-internet there were very few ways to get groups of people to play besides collecting the friends you knew, figuring out everyone’s schedule and trying to get a day you could all meet.Even then you could only play games with people who were around your location. And if you didn’t know how to play the game you had to rely solely on the book, and your friend’s knowledge of it to figure it out. 

Amplification and Altered Communication

As I mentioned, with the help of the internet D&D has spread to a massive audience that the game has never seen before. I think this is in large part due to a change in how people are able to communicate. There is a communications theory discussed by Jesse Fox, and Bree McEwan in the book Media Effects: Advances in Theory and Research. Social media has the power to change communications process.

Either by amplifying the communication processes, expanding the scope, the speed, and the power of these ideas than any other medium before it. Or by altering the way communication is happening. Being able to watch others, learn by reading their online notes, or doing our research into the processes of people we think are successful.

New Processes, New People

Some Rule Books and Expansions For D&D 5E

These processes have completely changed how people do everything, but they’ve had a profound affect on the popularity of D&D. The power to amplify the reach of the game, by posting stories of their sessions, creating digital sign-ups for games, or asking for help from others. 

But the real power has come from altered communication. Online game platforms have allowed people to be able to play no matter where in the world they are, making the game more accessible than ever.

Most importantly people have begun to live stream their games. Shows such Critical Role, Harmonquest, or Adventure Zone allow people to sit in a watch people play the game of D&D. Has transformed the way D&D is seen and learned about. Greg Tito, senior communications manager, at Wizards of the Coast compares it to watching and learning about sports.

“You didn’t learn how to play basketball or baseball by reading the manual about what the rules are. You watched the games, you listened to the commentators, you found a few icons or aspirational figures that you wanted to emulate and that’s what’s happening with streaming.”

The Cast of Critical Role sitting around the table

Those interested in how to play are no longer required to read the rule books for hours to understand how the game works. They are now able to watch others play the game, laugh alongside them and have a better sense of how they might want to enjoy the hobby.

The web has been able to bring this traditionally isolated game, and through the power of altered and amplified communications has brought in a whole world of people to join in on a community that the game has never seen before.

D&D is obviously not the only hobby to be transformed by the internet. The immediate accessibility of information has changed the way cooks cook, crafters craft, and gamers game. By having that information available at any screen people are no longer limited, by their location or the people they know. It becomes a limit of what time, effort, and what they’re willing to try.

Re-purposing Content

The most important tenant in Social Media Marketing is “Content is King.” No matter how well you market a product, no matter how many people you get it to, no matter how much money was spent on it, if it is not good content no one will want to consume it. This, of course leads to a certain frustration among those making content. 

It takes a lot of time and effort to create any piece of content, and as the internet gets more and more popular the quality demanded by consumers grows higher. It becomes frustrating for writers when the content you make is left to rot after its been published.

Personally this has never made sense to me. If content is good content, it should be relevant no matter when it’s consumed (bar time sensitive topics). 

John Jantch, a social media marketing blogger, wrote this post as a response to a previous post made by Pamela Vaughan of Hubspot on the same topic. The concept is pretty simple, getting good content to more people regardless of when it was made. While more people are inclined to read things that are new, more people find blogs based on posts that are more than one month old (link to charts).

Graph Showing the Source of

People are tend to be inclined to read and watch things that are new, but more often they find your blog by popular posts that are more than a month old. According to Hubspot’s analytics “46% of our monthly blog leads came from just 30 individual blog posts.” (LINK to blog). That is an incredible statistic, and shows the immense power older posts can have.

However, even great content will age given enough time. One of the simplest and easiest ways to keep content fresh is to perform basic maintenance on those pages. Updating dead links and keeping images relevant is a great way to keep an article relevant well into the future. 

Another way discussed by both Vaughan and Jatch is to republish old blog posts. By republishing an old blog, the writer can update information, change aspects of the entry, and overhaul anything that prevents it from being up to date. Enough should be changed to warrant being published a second time. This specific aspect falls under improving search engine optimization (SEO) The method takes advantage of algorithms used by Google, and other search engines that reward recently made content by having those results show up first. 

Jatch brings up a tactic that, personally, I think is the most valuable. Re-purposing content is a way to breath new life into work that has already been produced by re-framing, and exploring new options in order to get into the hands of new viewers. Turn an article into a topic on a podcast, transform your listical into a more in-depth video. It’s possible to do the job of bringing attention back to the already created content, and making new content for the consumer to enjoy. This option makes the most sense for content that will continue to be revisited and could afford the extra effort that goes into reviving interest. 

Dead Links Aren’t Good For Anyone Except Ganon

I, personally, think that renewing old content simply makes the most sense. Often times when I’m using the internet I will come across a fantastic blog post that was simply left to rot. A once useful article, now filled with nothing but dead links and pictures that are no longer available. When an article isn’t bound to a time sensitive event, such as the launch of a game or any type of news, it makes no sense to simply let this hard work go to waste. My two favorite strategies that they proposed are updating the links, or re-purposing the content. Of the two I think the latter is more favorable, and audiences appreciate being able to access content in different forms. But let me know what you think about this practice of reviving old news in the comments.