Last week we saw the internet around the world slow down in what security experts are describing as the biggest cyber-attack of its kind in history. A row between a spam-fighting group and hosting firm saw repeated DDoS attacks on each other’s sites, causing a huge increase in the volume of traffic that the internet’s infrastructure struggled to deal with.
The story grabbed my attention because right at that moment my own internet service had slowed considerably. Coincidence? Probably. My broadband provider maintains that my bad service is more likely caused by the recent bad weather! Sounds a bit like a ‘leaves on the line’ excuse to me.
So while I was waiting for pages to load, I started to wonder whether we’re actually in danger of reaching a critical mass with the sheer volume of data outweighing the internet’s ability to host it. While, of course, we’ll probably find new more efficient ways to handle the increasing volumes of data travelling over the internet, shouldn’t we be also looking at the quality of content we’re putting out there?
Since the internet fundamentally changed the way we publish information to allow anyone or anything a platform for discussion, the volume of data being created has grown exponentially. But this isn’t necessarily for the better. It seems to me that in fact what we’re seeing is simply a growing volume of diatribe (not like this blog of course!) and that it’s getting harder and harder to find, locate and identify high-quality information on the web.
For companies trying to gain a voice or build a brand, developing content for use on the web is valuable but it needs to be managed in the same way it managed its paper-based communications in the past. By this, I mean that the content needs to have a purpose – a strategy behind its creation. It also needs to serve more than one online purpose – it needs to connect itself to other useful and strategic content. And, it needs to be reviewed with an eye on quality – companies need to ask whether it achieves the objective and whether it does that well. The alternative is the risk of building a reputation for ‘noise’ and not quality.
As a business-to-business PR agency, we have witnessed an increase in the number of clients talking to us about creating a strategy to support the production of ‘connected content’. Whether that’s the written word, as an infographic, a video or a Twitter campaign, ‘connected content’ is becoming a valuable communication tool for companies hoping to gain stand out over the constant online ‘noise’.