Is Content the New Currency?

Think money is the main currency in business? Think again.

Between the endless Euro drama and the Bitcoin brouhaha, currency has been much in the news of late. Most people would probably name the US Dollar as the dominant currency in this day and age. While that may be true in one sense, is today’s preeminent currency even still money? Does money allow for a brand to buy trust? Or is it one’s digital footprint? What about social media profiles or properties? Perhaps the dominant currency today is, as smartly noted by Hugh MacLeod, social objects—or as many of us all call it, social content.

The dominance of the web and the human behavior spawned from it as a result has turned social content into a new, increasingly important, currency. Think about it for a second: the web allows for informational exchange—transactions, if you will. In the past, these transactions took place when you went directly to a destination. However in 2013, most of us live in the here and now of the "feed"—our home for content discovery.

We are now entrenched fully in the era of the sharing economy. This sharing is on two fronts. One is the sharing of things or services courtesy of an array of technologies or facilities. The other front is the information packaged and presented as content: thought leadership, entertainment, utility, or whatever else allows us to begin and continue conversation among a group of people with whom wish to engage.

The era of "Like/Follow/Fan" is fading into twilight. Brands will continue to accumulate likes because bigger is always perceived as better, but social acquisition campaigns are doing business and customers a major disservice. Technology is breaking down barriers between brands and customers faster than when social first operated as engines for connection.

Sharing content helps us connect. Connection helps us engage. Engagement leads to a relationship. Relationships lead to friendship and possibly endearment. In the industrial economy, we congregated in front of the TV, read newspapers and magazines, gathered around the radio and saw signage that told what to believe. In the sharing economy, technology has allowed us to connect, engage, question, critique, criticize or concur. Humans are social animals, and we still need something to spur connection. Content acts as that stimulant. Content is our true currency.

Five Reasons Content Is the New Currency:

  1. Content has meaning beyond the data it contains. It can be shared and exchanged with others to acquire additional knowledge—much like a traditional currency.
  2. Financial transactions used to buy status. Now, content buys earned trust.
  3. In the sharing economy, bonds are formed through content and utilitarian exchange.
  4. Content creates equity much like stocks and bonds. The more subject matter expertise a brand brings to the table, the more business they can create. This expertise is displayed in the form of content.
  5. The definition of the term currency is anything that is used as a medium of exchange. Content acts as that catalyst because it brokers an exchange between people with similar interests and goals.

Geoffrey Colon is Vice President of Social@Ogilvy. Follow him on Twitter @djgeoffe

[Ben Franklin: Ilyashenko Oleksiy via Shutterstock]

Add New Comment


  • Arturito LC

    I get some of the extrapolations, but then I have to assume my own interpretation to be right.

  • Sudeshna Tapashi 2007

    I don't know who is the creator of these junks! All brain etched elements;where simplicity should only be the motto of human's life. So nice substances are around us but we are always after the complicated creativity and thoughts!

  • Brent

    Talk about comparing apples to oh, uhm... I don't know but something that's really, really, incomparable. 
    Assuming the guy who wrote this did in fact get paid, I'm curious to know if he actually got dollars or some of the new currency?

  • Quixote

    I didn't make it past the Five Reasons. Specifically, number two (aptly numbered) is entirely wrong. Content cannot "buy" earned trust. By definition, earned trust must be earned, not bought. All of this pre-supposes that transactions take place in a digital vacuum, without real human interaction. Companies that rely on content alone to sell their goods are doomed. Actual people make actual decisions about purchases, and those decisions are often motivated by personal interaction. Bad experience with a customer service person? No amount of "content" is going to buy that customer back (unless you're trying to argue that personal interactions are also content, which is ludicrous).

  • Quixote

    To Anonymous below: 
    Your point is lost. Even if it were true (content is only one method of gaining a consumer's attention), it is not a convertible or exchangeable asset. The next time you want to buy a pair of Nikes, why don't you email the company and offer them some "content" instead of dollars and see if you get a pair shoes in the mail.

  • Neil Cowan

    Er um...a little tenuous, to me -- a simpleton is sage's clothing. Or perhaps, s-t-r-e-t-c-h-e-d is a better description. No argument that content is currency. But that currency could also be a junk the Euro almost became. And just think of the number of people who insist on lecturing you with their specialist (currency) knowledge -- whether they're wine bores or other 'specialist' subject freaks. The anecdotes they inevitably turn into are the death of conversation. But points 4 and 5...? Nah. Can't remember them now, anyway. Indeed, if you want to create great conversations (exchanges, you call them) why not actually limit detailed knowledge of any kind. That way a conversation, with no discernible destination, might end up somewhere interesting, somewhere undiscovered!

  • OgilvyFan90

    Content isn't necessarily the new currency, but rather an extension of a country's constitution. The first basic right of the U.S. Consititution is "Freedom of Speech". Time after time again, history has paved a way that supported a platform for everyone to share what he or she believes in.

    Now, if only all countries, namely China, allowed such an idea to exist.