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Beyond Content: The Call To Build Community

We are drowning in a sea of content. Each day, 3.7 million videos are published to YouTube, 37 million videos are published to TikTok, and 1.3 billion photos are published to Instagram. To say nothing of the posts, comments, episodes, streams, articles, and everything else that comes before our eyes on a daily basis.


Content Is No Longer King

In 1996, Bill Gates famously penned an essay titled “Content Is King.” In it, he predicted, “Content is where I expect much of the real money will be made on the internet, just as it was in broadcasting.”

But to wear the crown, you must have things that nobody else has: a throne, an army, and perhaps most importantly, command of your people. Being king is a zero-sum game. When everybody is king, nobody is king.

When I began my career in radio decades ago, you needed expensive equipment run by a team of specialists to reach a mass audience: a printing press, a television studio, or a radio tower. The amount of content in the world was limited by the expense and the difficulty of production. 

Now, anybody with a smartphone can create content and distribute it to the world. It’s cheap and it’s easy. We’re all content creators; but we can’t all be kings.


The Battle For Attention

In his 1999 book Permission Marketing, Seth Godin noted, “Human beings have a finite amount of attention.” That attention is what content creators are competing for. As that attention becomes harder to capture, we try to produce more content and better content. But everybody else is producing more better content, too.

The more content we all produce, the harder it becomes to capture people’s attention. The harder it is to capture people’s attention, the more content we all produce. It’s a classic Catch-22.

Radio broadcasters, in particular, are trapped by this phenomenon. As stations are asked to produce more content with fewer resources, they fall behind. 

How can broadcasters cut through all the noise?

The answer: Build community.


Communities Are Content Filters

Stop me if this nightly ritual sounds familiar: After a long day at work, you sit down on the couch with your family and launch a streaming service, only to discover hundreds of unfamiliar movies and shows. You sift through them, watching trailers and comparing online reviews. Before you know it, two hours have gone by, and it’s too late to watch anything, so you go to bed.

This happens to me all the time. Yet somehow, I have managed to find new shows to watch. I find out about them through my community. Every time I am with a group of people, somebody inevitably asks, “What shows have you seen lately?” I have discovered all of my recent favorites through word of mouth.

When there’s too much content to sift through, we filter it through the members of our communities.


What Is A Community?

A community is a group of people who gather for a shared purpose. That can be a group of sports fans who gather to cheer on their favorite team, business owners who exchange leads, or recovering alcoholics keeping each other sober.

One of the world’s oldest types of communities is disciples who gather to worship together. That’s why few media outlets are as well positioned to build community as Christian radio stations.


Communities Vs. Audiences

Communities are not the same as audiences. Community members talk to one another; audience members do not. To attract an audience, you create content. To attract community members, you build a space for them to gather and connect. This connection is the reason people return to their communities over and over again; it’s how you capture their finite attention.


Create Spaces

The space you create for community members to gather can be physical (like a church or a festival), virtual (like a Facebook group), or both. While content plays a role in creating these spaces, you cannot build a space with content alone.

The world doesn’t need more content; the world needs more connection. Christian radio stations can rise above the noise by building spaces for their listeners to come together to celebrate their faith. In doing so, they will not only recapture people’s attention, but also make a deep and lasting impact on their lives.

Create spaces. Connect people. Build community.


Seth Resler founded Community Marketing Revolution to help brands launch their own communities. He will present a webinar on community building for Christian broadcasters on Wednesday, April 10th.