Are employees content producers ? No !

How many times did we hear the famous “content is king”, pushed as the pillar of a new world where social media is predominant. Consequence : the future belongs to those (people and businesses) who’ll produce the more content. A contrario, who won’t produce content won’t exist in this world. After all, why not…

By definition, a contents is defined regarding to a container so it’s logical to assume that the container is the raison d’etre of the whole what, in fact, makes no sense once you understand that content should be interoperable and volatile to be reused, shared, far beyond the orignal container.

But content is not self-generating so it’s important to have it generated by people. What sometimes troubles me is that this looks very much like “there are new containers, so let’s fill them”. In this approach, the value, the interest of any content is that it fills one or many containers and has few to do with its intrinsic value. I’m not even saying that it may favor noise and quantity agains quality.

Things become more complicated when it comes to the workplace. I have to admit that I nearly fall off my chair whenever I hear recommandations like “you must encourage your employees to produce contents”, “to stimulate your social network’s activity, don’t forget to generate contents”. This is often understood like “there are new spaces…now your job is to fill them” or “on top of the amount of work and responsability you already have as a manager, don’t forget to find things to say every day”. Hearing such words makes manager run away to avoid what they understand as a nonsense, a new improductive and useless burden they have to deal with.

Communication is a part of any management word. Besides that, we should be cautious when the world of communication invites itself (or is imported) in the workplace without paying any attention to the goals of the people it should apply to : produce and deliver results.

Employees are not paid to publish things on online media (social or not) unless they have a marketing or communication position. They are paid to produce and, to achieve this, have to exchange and share information. To be successful, they may need more relevant practices and the right tool to support it. Saying that, the approach to “content” dramatically changes.

People emit and share information out of necessity, not because they have a container to fill (what also makes them fear the “blank page”). They must say to themselves “I have such need so I need to communicate in such way” and not “what will I find to publish to please them today, get rid of this burden, and go back to my real work”.

Be caution of not applying to employees the same punishment as Sisyphus and turn the intranet into a Danaide’s barrel.

Employees are not and should not be content producers. They are people with a job to do and, even if communication is a part of everybody’s job, it should happen because of a given context and the added value of communicating, not because there are spaces to fill.

PS : to explain the business process approach to enterprise 2.0 during the last enterprise 2.0 conference, many people relied on the content/context articulation. A sign ?

Head of People and Business Delivery @Emakina / Former consulting director / Crossroads of people, business and technology / Speaker / Compulsive traveler
Head of People and Business Delivery @Emakina / Former consulting director / Crossroads of people, business and technology / Speaker / Compulsive traveler

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