Google and Facebook are in a battle for the social network market. What does that have to do with content strategy? A lot more than you might think.

Oh my my. It’s beginning to feel a lot like 1975 when two behemoths went after each other to gain supremacy in the home video market. Remember Sony’s Betamax? A superior technology, using a smaller cassette and player, it lost against JVC’s VHS (go ahead kids, Google it). According to the executives at Sony, licensing slowed down their ability to produce movies on the Betamax format. VHS was able to capture the majority of the market because they found a faster way to deliver users the content they wanted.

So here we are in 2011 and we are witness to two behemoths facing each other in battle, each with a sword drawn. Facebook and Google are after each other for the majority share of social network business and each, in the past few months, has made a definite grab for the market.

If you’re a content strategist or a content marketer, you’re probably watching this battle with both hands covering your face, through half-opened fingers. But I would encourage you to roll up your sleeves and get in the game because it’s never been as fun, and there have never been as many opportunities to deliver users the content they want -- faster, cheaper and with more value.

Here are three major game changers in content creation:

1. Google Panda and Its Effect on SEO

Google is kind of like the United States’ financial markets -- it can only be gamed for so long before shockwaves set off the system. In this case, we experienced the Google Panda update, which changed the Google algorithm -- the formula they use to rate content. A major part of the update was the emphasis on quality.

Google has made it clear they will not tolerate shady link-building practices or low-quality content. This means that producing high-quality content is more important than ever --whitepapers, blog posts, podcasts, videos, etc. Ensure that you’re creating something of value for your users every single time you create content and you will be rewarded by more users sharing your content, more traffic and better scores with Google.

2. Facebook 8 and Google +

I have many friends on Facebook -- but a lady never reveals her number. However, the copious amounts of whining and complaining that has gone on since Facebook rolled out these past new changes is quite something to scan. Has anyone reminded our dear Facebook users that the site is free? However, many of these recent changes, particularly how you manage friends, reminds me of features on Google +. In fact, they seem to be in a do-si-do of who can think of features users really want.

I have no idea who is going to win this game -- right now my money is on Facebook, but my grandfather bet on Betamax and we see where that got him. I do think that content marketers and content strategists need to keep doing what they’re doing, fully aware of how the changes affect your strategy.

Remember, all of these social media networks are tools for content delivery. They are not content -- you produce content. Choose the right type of content for each of these tools --the same way a builder chooses a hammer or a wrench -- and you will be able to keep up with the game.

3. Mobile

Oh mobile, how we love thee. Unpredictable, shifting by the minute, how can we rein thee in?

I talk about this a lot -- when is the last time you needed to relearn how to use a desktop or laptop computer? Yet every couple of months, there is a new mobile device you have to learn how to use. The ipad. The Droid. The next thing, whatever it is -- probably robotic chips implanted in our newborns. The point is, mobile is the fastest changing landscape and changes the game significantly for users.

Case in point: how long should pages be? I used to teach that we should always try to keep pages short because users hate to scroll. But now, with the rise of mobile, users hate to jump, because pages take too long to load. So, I’ve gone back to advocating longer one-stop shopping pages (eek!).

The Most Adaptable Survive

But I’ve learned from the past -- not just watching Sony and JVC, but reading Charles Darwin:

It's not the strongest of the species, or the most intelligent that survives, but rather those of the species who are most adaptable to change.

So adapt. And don’t take a million years to do it. We don’t have that kind of time anymore.

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