The lifespan of online content is nasty, brutish and short

The lifespan of online content is nasty, brutish and short. What to do?

The above video interview is from Internet Week in NYC.                               
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An ugly truth about online media is the incredibly fast decay rates of content objects. Even the most compelling content once published experiences a quick drop off in engagement relative to its perceived value.

Like Thomas Hobbes’ analysis of man in a state of nature, the life of online content is nasty, brutish and short.

Even with our most successful viral hits, an initial spike of aggregated activity around the work is followed by a dramatic plummeting of interest. Sure, search allows for some Long Tail discoverability but the fragmentation and capriciousness of our audiences dooms content of all types to obsolescence.

To stem the tide we build social ecosystems and construct SEO savvy strategies around that which we do in order to sustain the original audience lift just a little bit longer.

What I find interesting though in the above interview Peter Cervieri conducted with Federated Media’s Peter Spande is Spande’s observation of the engagement platforms audiences use for different categories. With business and technology news it’s Twitter. With men’s lifestyle it’s Facebook. And with Women’s lifestyle it’s on site comments. (The discussion starts at approximately 9:08.)

The goal, of course, is fewfold: to sustain the life of the original content object and build loyalty around the brand.

The lone piece of content can’t create that loyalty but by extending engagement with it, and engaging those that are engaged with it, we increase the likelihood that our next greatest hit will be viewed, shared and otherwise promoted… albeit briefly. Rinse and repeat.

So while an individual work suffers the nasty, brutish and short life an unforgiving online environment has in store for it, eventually doomed objects work in tandem to give life to brand loyalty.

Digital optimism: It’s really not as brutish as it may sound.

3 thoughts on “The lifespan of online content is nasty, brutish and short”

  1. Couldn’t disagree more. My most read piece of content was first published in 2003. The long tail is very real. Online may be brutal for Federated, but that’s because they’re thinking in mass media terms. The age of instant obsolescence is over.

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