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Blog post
June 25, 2019

What the world needs: A content integrity index

The term is ‘content shock’. Coined by Mark Shaefer, effectively it means that as we exponentially increase the content we produce, eventually that will intersect with our limited human capacity to consume it.

For us as content consumers (as well as producers), that’s a scary thought. With so much content, how can we wade through millions of articles, comments, tweets and videos to find something of value?

The sheer volume of content raises one major concern – integrity.

In bygone eras, barriers to being a publisher were either based on cost or validity. Now, any individual or organisation with a few spare dollars and hours each month can become a publisher. All this content is vying for the attention of a finite audience.

Brand outlets can shape the news. They can create content which tells a narrative for one purpose or another. The question is, shouldn’t those with accurate and useful content be held in higher esteem? Wouldn’t it be great if there was a way to rank brand and media outlets based on the integrity of their content?

Some organisations have used a Klout score to track and measure the impact of their brand, particularly social media channels. It ranks accounts based on a variety of metrics around influence.

American-based Fohr Card implemented a rating element to its cohort of social media Influencers. The authenticity of the followings of their 15,000 influencers is of great concern to businesses that partner with them.

While both measurements can provide insight into your influence score, this doesn’t represent the quality or value of your content.

Similarly, two-thirds of big businesses have adopted the Net Promoter Score (NPS) to gauge the loyalty of their customers. This is done by a simple question: How likely is it that you would recommend our company/product/service to a friend or colleague?

Spitting out a score between -100 and 100, it gives brands a ranking when it comes to the expected loyalty of their customers. It’s a great metric for understanding how much we’re loved by our customers – but still, not for our content.

To get their content seen in search results or up the top of people’s newsfeeds, brands need to be faster to publish content.

No other stories illustrate this better than in 2015 when a BBC journalist shot out a tweet stating that Queen Elizabeth had died. The reporter had picked up the incorrect information from an internal BBC simulation and had tweeted it out swiftly.

Brands feel the need to command the message and be a big player in the conversation to score their audience’s attention. This haste, however, can have obvious negative impacts on the legitimacy of the message.

While subjectivity is a hard thing to map, media agency Havas estimated that 60 per cent of content created is just “clutter”. That is, content that has little value to its audience, not even taking into account the accuracy – brands publishing and disseminating content for the sake of it.

A content measurement would mean that content appearing in search results, newsfeeds or even content shared via apps or email would have a known level of integrity.

At this stage, there is no metric to help audiences work out which outlets – brand or media – are producing valuable, timely and accurate content. But there should be.

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