Platforms vs. Websites – Why Platforms Win
My mouth dropped open. I couldn’t breathe for a minute. Panic set in. Staring at these figures made me realize a key Web 2.0 fact – no matter how much content we were or would be creating it wasn’t going to be enough. A simple Google command led to these astonishing results. The command was:
Site:Amazon.com returning over 300,000,000 pages in Google
I was doing research for a electronic gift site. Here are some other astonishing results:
Site: Etsy.com returns 50,000,000 pages then (88,000,0000 now)
Site: RedEnvelope.com returns 7,000 pages in Google
Site: REI.com returns 7,000 pages in Google
Site: Walmart.com returns 7,000,000 in Google
My consulting advice was to NOT create a web site. The time for web sites is over. Web sites are too closed loop and proprietary. Web sites usually have a group of content creators who dutifully publish content as fast as they can go. Problem is no matter how fast a team of ten or even twenty creates content a platform designed to incorporate and reward user generated content (UGC), also known as a crowdsourced mob, wins every time.
Platforms are built on Web 2.0’s guiding principles including the three most important Internet marketing words: content, content and content. Amazon will probably be the first content marketing platform with a billion pages in Google. A billion pages means Amazon exists in a separate search engine marketing galaxy. Amazon is hundreds of times bigger than Walmart, the largest retailer on the planet. Amazon’s platform is built for speed, user generated content (UGC) and potentially the most sophisticated content creation algorithms built for search engines ever devised.
Amazon’s buy, sell, hold content marketing model is so sophisticated they know when to insert PPC ads, divide existing content into smaller yet distinct bites and ways to please Google’s algorithm like no marketing team ever. Trying to be Amazon may be fruitless, but learning from Amazon’s platforms beat websites lessons can be powerful. Amazon’s lessons include:
- UGC is KING
- Social Rewards Are Important
- Subdivide and then subdivide again, and again, and again
- Faster, always faster
User Generated Content is King
Amazon has changed the 1:10:89 rule (1% of visitors contribute content, 10% will vote on content created by the 1% and 89% form the audience for the 11%) by a system of sophisticated social recognitions and awards. Content creators fight to enter Amazon’s 1,000 top reviewer ranks. The scale of Amazon’s thinking knocks my Internet marketing socks off. Instead of a Top 10 or even Top 100 review program Amazon knew they needed massive scale. Amazon thought LARGE and IN CHARGE and so should you.
Social Rewards Are Important
Amazon continues to tweak design, page layout and content presentation. Some tweaks help sell things while others help reward contributors. Amazon understands contributors work for SOCIAL rewards such as making sure their reviews are seen and valued. Amazon’s “was this review helpful” or “review the reviewer” is important to social rewards. Writers feel valued by peers and Amazon can identify exceptional contributors (good or bad) quickly.
Amazon’s content isn’t duplicated as much as subdivided and then mashed up. Google hates duplicate content so Amazon doesn’t copy they blend. Ever notice how Amazon has a page dedicated to the subject or author you are looking for? These “landing pages” are built for search engine keywords when those keywords show enough gold to afford the mining. Amazon knows how to play the content shell game like Internet marketing geniuses. Content snippets are extracted, blended with other snippets, stirred vigorously and well and then viola a new page emerges on Amazon’s trek to a billion pages. The speed of Amazon’s content creation means sophisticated algorithms are at work, but you can take their mix and match lesson to heart. The hidden magic of tools such as PowerReviews is as an aid to this most important Internet marketing content mix and match shell game.
Faster, Always Faster
Network content marketing has its own velocity – FAST. Events happen, bloom to maturity and die in hours now. It might seem Amazon’s bulk is in opposition to the need for content marketing speed. Bulk provides speed of response. No matter what happens Amazon either already has a page or can easily subdivide a page out of existing content. If the Brooklyn Bridge falls down tomorrow Amazon will have a landing page with books on disasters, the bridge’s history (great book by David McCullough) and art related to the famous bridge. Amazon’s content bulk means they are prepared to respond FAST and rank on Google first page even for a new keyword storm such as “Brooklyn Bridge Collapses” before your site can inventory related content. Content bulk creates speed of response.
Platforms Are Different
Creating a content marketing platform means less control. Platforms need more management based on exception reporting. Set up business rules to alert when something is on TILT in your content garden’s north forty and then let go. Letting go will be the hardest lesson for many Internet marketers. Here is some depressing good news – you don’t have a choice. No matter how much content you create on your web site it isn’t enough by half. No matter how fast you are responding it isn’t fast enough. Yes, this is one of those blow it up and start again moments (keeping in mind NEVER to remove indexed content see: Internet Marketing Relativity 2 for why). Blow up your website vision and replace with platform thinking. Moving from web site creation to developing fast content generating machines should be every Internet marketer’s obsession because Platforms beat Websites.