You’ve Heard Of Big Data But What Is Big Content?

By Michael Brenner

what is big content

In content marketing, we’re great at making up terms and buzzwords to try and prove just how far ahead of everything old and “traditional” we are.

The term Big Content has been used in a couple of different ways by some big names and influential media outlets. So I thought I would try and provide an overview and some additional thoughts of my own to help answer:

What is Big Content?

Almost 2 years ago, Gartner’s Craig Roth brought up the idea of Big Content. To Craig, Big Content is the unstructured step-child of Big Data and represents the explosion of tweets, vines, blogs and all other content that we are now creating at increasing rates.

In a similar way, Idio suggested that this was an important consideration because like Big Data, Big Content needs a strategy, an analytic model to support it and a process to manage the operations of the content marketing hub.

Then Moz decided to take the term away from the volume definition (lots of content) and more in the direction of the value of the content or the depth. They defined Big Content as content that takes a lot of effort, is not necessarily long-form and also breaks the mold of some traditional content types.

They also suggested that the effort was worth it, in the form of having a longer shelf-life and longevity, because it creates a barrier to entry for your competitors and because it typically rides the wave of a big idea.

big content2Going Long On Content

Now the conversation is shifting to long form content. Business Insider used 21,000 words on an in-depth profile of Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer. Huffington Post has won a Pulitzer prize and even BuzzFeed has added political coverage.

There are some obvious and proven SEO benefits of long form content.

But there are some pretty big risks in this approach as shown by Jonathan Mahler from The New York Times recently that long-form is bad form.

So this begs the question: when do you decide to invest the time and effort to go long on content?

I think anyone who studies the latest trends in content production and looks into who reads what, when and where will see that we can’t just create short form content, tweets and vines.

Our customers will read and consume long form content as long as it meets the 2 needs of ALL content: is it interesting (storytelling) and does it meet a need (inform, educate or entertain).

In somewhat of an oxymoron, long form content would be one of the by-products of a lean content approach that identifies new content ideas, produces and publishes the content, and then measures and analyzes what works.

My guidance would be that all content production should invest some percentage of time and effort in long form content. The percentage should be big enough that you can generate enough pieces to gain some real insights into what works and also to move the needle on SEO.

But you should also be careful not to extend too far that you’re not meeting the consistent needs of the market in the form of blogs, tweets, vines, and lists.

Is your business looking into Big Content? Let me know in the comments below and please follow along on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and Google+ or Subscribe to the B2B Marketing Insider Blog for regular updates.

And if you are looking for more examples, here are Unbounce’s Top 10 Big Content Resources of 2013.

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