Content Rule #1: There Are No Rules

Sep 16, 2011


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There are plenty of "rules" for online content these days. "You must post your story to Twitter at 10 a.m. on Monday for maximum effectiveness," says the blog post. "If your YouTube video is longer than 2 minutes no one will watch it," shouts the latest marketing book. "If your content isn't formatted specifically for each different mobile device, your audience will show up on your doorstep with pitchforks and torches," screams the over-paid consultant. And while some of these statements do contain grains of truth, I think Thomas Edison had a better take on rules. He said, "Hell, there are no rules here--we're trying to accomplish something."

As a writer, speaker and consultant in the technology space for the last 10 years, I have witnessed the rise and fall of amazing tools, blazing hardware, and mind-blowing software. Our culture has become infatuated with objects, equipment, and the companies that create them. Most technology blogs have turned into a TMZ.com for tech. "Blogger Celebrity Busted in VC Funding for iPhone 7 Blueprints Swap Scandal," is how most of the headlines read now.  But one thing has survived all the format wars, the revolving door of devices and the loud cacophony of pundits. The story still rules.

Whoever tells the best story wins, every time. The quality and creativity of content continues to surprise and delight far beyond the silicon and aluminum bits and bytes that dominate the news feeds. Edison had it right. To get things done, sometimes you need to break the rules. So I am excited to launch a new column with eContent to speak specifically about content and how it continues to revolutionize the way we live our lives. The focus for Content Rules! will be fresh and relevant stories about the latest triumphs and failures from companies and individuals around the globe. My hope is that we can laugh a little, see some dramatically different approaches and learn how to apply it to our businesses and lives.

To give you a little taste of what is to come I have selected two rule breakers that definitely did not follow the advice in the first paragraph. They hail from a small dark, room in England and you have probably never heard of them. When mutual gaming friends Lewis Brindley & Simon Lane started recording their World of Warcraft exploits they were purely interested in sharing advice and having fun. But when they started exploring new games, including the indie hit Minecraft, the viewing numbers started to climb into the six and seven figures per video. (Yes, that's millions.) This has led to one of the most popular channels on YouTube right now, The Yogscast. I doubt that anyone thought 20 minute YouTube videos of two cheeky geeks playing a video game would have led to over 72 million channel views. But that's what rule breaking is all about. Check them out at http://yogiverse.com and see what it means to build a real community using virtual content.