As I was scrolling through my news feed on LinkedIn this morning, the following graphic caught my eye:
My immediate reaction was, “Cool!” and my instinct was to “Like” it. However, before I could position the cursor and press the mouse button, I stopped myself and thought, “Wait a second—that’s backwards!” Shouldn’t it be, “Social media is fire, content is gasoline”? Solving this riddle requires exploring the symbiotic relationship between content and social media.
If there was no “social media”, would content have any value? Of course! Long before Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. existed, we produced “content”. It was published and distributed in many different ways. Social media simply makes the distribution of content more efficient—faster, cheaper, and more accessible to the lay creator and consumer. On the flip-side, if all we had were these great social media platforms, but no one was producing or sharing interesting, relevant content, what would be the value of social media?
This is why I believe that social media is the fire—the “thing” we huddle around to warm our intellect and soul—and content is the gasoline—that which makes the fire burn brighter, hotter. Content is the fuel that makes social media “go”.
Pleased with my conclusion, but not satisfied that I had considered the original author’s perspective, I decided to Google the quote. I discovered that it is attributed to Jay Baer in an interview conducted by Terry Foster about “content marketing”. He explains his analogy by saying:
Social media’s best relationship to content is as an amplification layer, that the content exists independent of what you’re doing in social, but you’re using social to drive awareness of your fantastic content executions.
In that sense, I get it. He sees content as the “thing” and social media is what amplifies it, just like gasoline amplifies the heat and brightness of the fire. While I don’t disagree with his explanation and certainly would not say, “He’s wrong!”, I still like my version better. 🙂