What Should We Do With All of That Content?

The solution most companies seem to be driving toward is recommendations, curated feeds and algorithmic content surfacing.

As more users worldwide gain access to the internet and existing users engage more, the rate of content creation by users has increased exponentially. It’s not like data and information saturation is new; we’ve been dealing with it for years. The solution most companies seem to be driving toward is recommendations, curated feeds and algorithmic content surfacing.

Peter Asbill, head of streaming for Google Play Music, told Wired:

Having all of this amazing curated content doesn’t really matter at all unless it’s delivered accurately to the right person at the right moment … f you’re a country fan and I’m delivering you a metal experience, then who cares? It doesn’t matter how good a metal playlist it is, it’s the wrong thing.

A shortage of content can certainly hinder a burgeoning startup, but a ubiquity of content can present its own problems. How are users supposed to find the content they want and, more important, how are they supposed to discover content that they may not know they want? Without a steady stream of content, users could easily become bored of a site or service and simply engage less.

The problem faced by many sites, especially the larger social sites, is the overwhelming mass of uploads. According to Wired, YouTube users upload 400 hours of video content every minute, and on Instagram, there are 80 million uploads per day. While it’s safe to assume no one user is going to wade through that content, the companies have to if they wish to surface the highlights.

For YouTube, the solution was to update its mobile applications to lead with recommended content chosen through artificial neural networks. Instagram is also testing algorithms for its content in an attempt to control and direct the deluge of posts on the site. Facebook’s algorithm is a complex environment of interconnected systems that seems to get more difficult to navigate every year.

As sites like Twitter and Instagram toy with algorithmic models, it’s clear that this will likely become the industry standard in the future. While it may seem like a negative outcome for users, social networks will likely see better view rates or higher levels of interaction on posts. However, if these systems are implemented poorly, it could a negative impact on both social marketers and the user experience.

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