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In the Internet, service is king, not content

Today, content is at the center of every marketing conversation. Everyone is saying that on the Internet, content is king. You have every business using content as its new marketing silver bullet. They are creating newsroom-like teams to produce, distribute and monitor content 24/7. I wonder if we are focusing on the wrong thing. We are in a race of abundance. But maybe the Internet is not about content? Maybe it is about a service that just happens to produce content.
If you look at the dominant players in the Internet today, they are all services at their core. Netflix provides movie services. Airbnb offers a service to link people with hotel substitutes. You can say the same for Amazon, Uber, Etsy, Instagram, Youtube, LinkedIn and Dropbox. People engage with these brands because of the value they get from a service. And yes, in the process, people use their platforms to produce, share and consume content.
Focusing merely on the content aspect is a race to abundance. In today’s digital economy, everyone is a publisher in some shape or form. Content is an abundant resource. Technology has become a great equalizer in today’s society. We all have the power to create and distribute high-quality content in any format at the moment. We only need a smartphone with Instagram and Periscope to have a mobile newsroom. 
For brands to thrive in today’s digital economy, the focus should be on service, where the real value and innovation is. They need to develop platforms that will solve a problem relevant to their brand promise better than that the marketplace. We already have brands that are doing this:
Nike created The Nike+ Training Club app, which helps you track your progress, stay motivated and train better. The app allows members to communicate with each other through the Nike Sport Feed, from organizing local group workouts to sending encouragement around the world.

The Starbucks app uses the smartphone as a loyalty card, making it easier to manage balances and reload money. In some stores, the same app can be used to pay for purchases. Users can instantly send a birthday wish, say thanks or just brighten someone’s day.
The Oakley Surf Report app comes with bio pages of all the Oakley Surf Team members, but the reason members of Oakley’s core market download it is the easy access to current surf conditions. The app contains all the information that they need to catch the best wave at their favorite surf spots, including surf height, swell direction, tides and a two-day forecast. Photos, online videos and news are added bonuses.

In summary, today’s brands have a choice: They can follow the pack as a content distributor, or engage legions of content creators (consumers) by disrupting with a compelling service. Doing more of the same won’t change the game. Adding value through service will make a difference, and content will follow.


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