Stop me if you’ve heard this before:

“Content is king”.

This expression was great the first time I heard it. Maybe the second time too. It stopped amazing me the third time onwards.

This usually comes with the variation of:

  • Content is king, and context is queen
  • Content is fuel
  • Content is fire

(For more associations, just search for “content is” on Google Images.)

Personally, I don’t believe content is king.

Sure, I understand the perspective of those who use this adage and actually understand it – “content is king” justifies what we do as marketers, whether we’re social media managers, analysts, advertisers or PR professionals. However, content isn’t everything – content is what happens in conversations.

Author and activitst Cory Doctorow puts it nicely,

“Content isn’t king. If I sent you to a desert island and gave you the choice of taking your friends or your movies, you would choose your friends…. If you chose your movies, we would call you a sociopath. Conversation is king. Content is just something to talk about.”

…and that couldn’t be further from the truth. Content helps you build your portfolio, but conversation makes your marketing go round. Because if you have some great content to share, yet no one shares it, what happens to your great content?

Conversations are what make social media what it is today; the constant change in how we carry conversations is the major reason why social media continually evolves. So, if you have great content and you also have conversations around it, your content may lead to relationships, which may then lead to acquisitions (which will make everyone in your company happy). If you have great content and there’s no conversation happening, you’re just broadcasting and/or advertising – nothing more, nothing less. Sure, you’ll have an audience, they’ll read your content and perhaps they’ll remember it someday down the line… but if no one shares it, if no one talks about it, that’s where your content stops – in your audience’s memory. Throw conversations in the mix, and you’ll see your content getting a new boost, something that only conversations can give it – your content hasn’t changed, it’s still the same, it’s still great, but it now has a life of its own.

So please, next time you find someone saying “content is king” as a buzz-phrase, stop in your tracks and think about it – is it? Is it really?