There is a lot of rubbish on Facebook. Indeed, there is a lot of rubbish on the Internet generally. However, new research shows that it is the quality content on Facebook that has been fundamental to its success. The study conducted at the University of New York, looked at how Facebook had managed to create such a sense of community. It found three measures which have combined to make Facebook the powerhouse it is today.
The three elements were the quality of content, the quality of the system and the exchange of social information between people. In other words, what this means is if you have a really good, quality system that allows people to share good information on a personal level then you have the makings of a successful virtual community.
Now, I know, this is all common sense. But it is the first time that researchers have put numbers and data to the notion. The research shows that the quality of the information is a vital ingredient in making Facebook a success as a virtual community.
It is a reminder that in spite of the desire to do things quickly or cheaply, at heart people still want quality.
The study confirms that quality content is what people are looking for online. And that means if you want your website to succeed then it is content quality that you should concentrate on.
But what is Content Quality?
The quality of your content is dependent upon several factors. Firstly, your audience. What is high quality to one group of people could be low quality to another audience. Equally, it depends on circumstances; what people perceive as high quality on their small mobile phone screen could be very different to the kind of quality they expect on a nice, big HD monitor.
In practice this means understanding your audience and their circumstances. Check your analytics more to find out and ask your audience what they expect from you.
One thing they will expect is a website that functions well – the “System Quality” outlined in the New York study of Facebook. Equally, they expect your material to be written well or produced well so that it matches the expected purpose. If you are producing a DVD, for instance, and the quality is only good enough for a 7 inch screen, you’ll find that you could end up with several returns. But if you are producing the same video and know it will only be watched on a smartphone, you could be congratulated for not doing it in HD because that saves bandwidth and speeds viewing. The result would be a quality experience.
So, check these questions to work out what will be perceived as quality:[unordered_list style=”arrow”]
- Who will the audience be for this item?
- What will they expect?
- How will the audience be viewing this item?
- What feedback have we had on similar projects in the past?
- Can I test it before publishing?
Focusing on the who and the how, though, is essential in ensuring you produce quality content. The time taken to do this reaps rewards in visitor numbers and repeat visits to your website – as Facebook ably demonstrates. Yes, there might be a lot of rubbish there, but there is also a lot of very good content and it is that which the research shows is fundamental to the success of the network.[box type=”note” border=”full”]At a recent talk I gave, I was asked what would be the single most important person a website owner could engage. “A professional writer,” I said, “Someone who can provide you with well-written, quailty material.”[/box]
Graham Jones is an Internet Psychologist who studies the way people use the online world, in particular how people engage with businesses. He uses this knowledge to help companies improve their online connections to their customers and potential customers and offers consultancy, workshops, masterclasses and webinars. He also speaks regularly at conferences and business events. Graham is an award-winning writer and the author of 32 books, several of which are about various aspects of the Internet. For more information connect with me on Google+