Which way do you your roll your content?

This topic probably amounts to being as unsolvable as the toilet paper roll orientation or mac vs. PC debates but as I play more with Twitter, and more recently tumblr it keeps coming to mind for me.

A lot of us produce a lot of content on a lot of different sites or applications these days and what I’ve found interesting is seeing how people aggregate their content up and down the chain. The most “confused” area I find right now is Tumblr – I see a healthy mix of new content, regurgitated tweets and blog post references cascading in every direction on that system.

I think it’s actually quite important , as you start to mess with more and more websites where you can produce content, that you have a deliberate plan or “flow” for the content. Unfortunately, it seems, most people don’t. At this stage I wouldn’t be surprised if the thing that borks the whole Internet entirely first will be some nasty multiplying loop that someone inadvertently creates while making their various social networks update each other. I can just picture the servers going wild passing the same update around in a never ending loop until everything grinds to a halt.

Questions you have to ask yourself

  • Where are you creating original content?
  • What content are you syndicating?
  • Which sites do you republish them on?
  • Where are people EXPECTING to find this content?
  • Are people already seeing this content somewhere else?

The last couple of questions seems to be the most overlooked, but they’re actually the most important.

My Flow

The approach I’ve taken considers the volume of updates (What I had for lunch vs. thought out body of content), the scale of the updates (micro-messaging vs. blog posts etc.) and the existing audience (followers vs. subscribers) and also whether or not I want to automatically syndicate everything that comes from a specific content source (i.e. Youtube, Flickr, Slideshare).

Personal Content Flow

Personally I use twitter as my aggregation point. I decided on this for a few reasons:

1) It’s got consistently the largest, unique audience based on all of the various places I publish content

2) It’s becoming an aggregation and discovery vehicle for many people. It’s where I think users expect to see this content.

3) I think of it in terms of scale too, I firmly believe that every click someone makes to go deeper on something you’ve republished should reward the user with more information.

#3 is one I’m especially careful about. One thing I find generally irritating is aggreated tweets in blog posts/tumblr posts. There’s no value in having them there as they completely break the twitter conversation and often you’re likely sending them to an entirely duplicate base of people.

The logical flow for me is:

BLOG > TUMBLR > TWITTER

or put more simply:

LARGE > MEDIUM > SMALL

You’re aggregation termination point should really be the platform with the smallest message size. Twitter is a summary platform. You’ve only got room for summarized thoughts and content – When I click through a link from twitter I expect more detail. I believe quite strongly that the content should only be republished lower on the funnel than where it sits. i.e. Blog can go to Tumblr or Twitter but Tumblr can only go to Twitter.

I don’t currently resyndicate my blogs into Tumblr as it has a very tiny follower base and many of them I know follow me onTwitter which means they’d just be getting duplicate content (or more likely triplicate content if they also subscribe to my blogs). I personally like this flow because people can self select how much of my content they want to see/subscribe to and it gets sectioned out quite logically. People who want the “firehose” or are just generally interested can choose my Twitter feed and then focus from there. People who like my piuctures can subscribe to my photoblog, like odd things I encounter online? Tumblr is probably the right feed. etc.

Add Value, Reduce Duplication, Allow for Focus

If asked that would be my short response to how people should structure their content flows. Ask yourself Is this adding value when I show it here? Are they already seeing it somewhere else? Can they easily understand what they’ll get at each deifferent feed/site?

I’d love to hear your thoughts and ideas – add them in the comments below or @ me on twitter when the post shows up there :)