Rob Hinchcliffe came to Spark.Me from Rushmore.fm, a site that is trying to change the way we interact with our favourite artists and how we discover music. Rob used to work in publishing and journalism and he launched a collaborative blog Londonist. While he worked for Yahoo, Rob got banned from 10 Downing Street for life for taking pictures of the inside (“it turns out taking pictures of the inside and posting them online is frowned upon”). Before joining Rushmore he is a community strategist at the digital agency TH_NK.
He has over 10 years of experience in creating communities around content (from his own Londonist to Pottermore), which let him follow the changes that happened in the industry. Those changes include not just the content itself, but also what users expect to experience and how. A large part of media audience today includes digital natives who expect the content to follow them on any device they might use.
Changing nature of content
There is a new paradigm of the web, Rob says. It’s expectancy: we expect mobile, we expect social, participatory, different devices. We expect the open web of data, cloud of metadata connected to our core content:
There is more and more being created and we wanna do stuff with it.
Younger people are introducing the web to environments that did not used to be connected to internet before. We call it “media convergence”, but Rob argues that it should not be called convergence any more, it should be called fighting, surviving:
You can not ignore the web anymore, now it is a part of survival.
Money does not get talked about at conferences a lot, Rob notices. Spreadsheets and job titles are not very interesting, but we need to talk about it. We now have job titles that did not exist 5 years ago, like “Multiplatform Commissioning Editor”. The reason they exist is that it matters now, those jobs have impact on what we do, so we make up names for them.
Too Much Content Is Not Always A Good Thing
Content is kind of eating itself, Rob says. We might be inclined to produce more thinking it’s what the audience wants, but there should be some limits. If we talk about television shows, we need to realize each show is different and needs to be approached differently. If your content is complicated, you can not add a second screen to it, because it takes away from the experience on the first screen. In this case, you need to create content around content that would be consumed at a different time.
Today everybody can create content today and expand on it. If you are building a community around your content, you also need to find a balance between too much freedom and too many rules. Looking back at Pottermore, Rob remembers how the experience was created using J.K.Rowling’s unused notes for expanding the universe in which fans could interact.
Including Your Community in Content Creation
One of the most successful Kickstarter projects was a game Double Fine Adventure. By backing it, you did not only get included in the final product, but you also joined the adventure of how the game-making process through a series of videos. Rob says:
This sums up how we create a product now. People do not care just about the product, they want to be a part of creating it, that is how they want to experience your content.
“Content is like Lego”, he continues, “it’s the building blocks and we let people do what they want with it”.