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PodCamp Boston 5

How long does it take to scan a tweet? To read a blog post? To listen to a podcast? To watch a video?

Perhaps seconds. Perhaps minutes. Depending on what your content is and how much of it you create, you could be asking your friends, followers, and fans to give up incredible amounts of their lives to you. Think about it:

  • This is blog post #2,085. If it takes you 5 minutes to read a blog post, you may have given me as much as 174 hours of your life, or a full week and change.
  • I’m at tweet #23,461. At 5 seconds a tweet, that’s still 32 hours or more than a full day of your life that you’ve given me.
  • If you listen to my podcast, Marketing over Coffee, you’ve invested 69 hours or almost 3 days of your life.

That’s a lot of time you may have given me. I have an obligation as a content creator to provide something that is worth that time, because that 275 hours is time you could have spent doing something else, listening to someone else, paying attention to something more worthwhile. Instead, you’ve willingly invested that in me (thank you!), and as a result, I have an obligation to honor that commitment to you by providing you with stuff that’s useful, helpful, enjoyable, and hopefully powerful.

Guess what? If you are a content creator in social media, you have that same obligation. Your fans, followers, and friends that invest time in you are giving up, even if just for a little while, pieces of their lives. Your obligation to them is to give them what they came for and then some, provide them the value they want, whether it’s humor, business, marketing, porn, absurdity, religion… whatever it is that they value and have come to you for, your responsibility is to provide it and then some.

One of the biggest lies in social media is that it’s free. While bandwidth costs are negligible and devices amortize out over time to pennies a day, the one thing that grows more valuable every day is time. Social media is not free. Social media costs you as a content creator the time it takes you to create, and it costs everyone who listens to you the time it takes them to enjoy what you’ve created.

Our shared imperative, yours and mine, then, is to not waste people’s time with mediocre stuff. Every time we hit the publish button, we owe it to those folks willing to give up massive parts of their lives (a little bit at a time) to make it worth their while. Before you push out the next piece of content, ask yourself if it’s really worthwhile, and if it’s not, sharpen your pencil and hack at it until it is. That’s the only way to repay the debt we have incurred from our fans who are lending us their incredibly valuable time.

Is your content worth the lives it’s consuming?

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