Last night I spoke at Wine and Web, a monthly event the Orbit Media team does here in Chicago.

Typically it’s a very tactical event. They have pizza and wine and Andy Crestodina, co-founder, strategic director, and oft guest blogger her, puts everyone in a room and shows them how to do things such as Google authorship, using keyword research for content development, or how to use your content in multiple locations.

First of all, if you’re in Chicago or have reason to be here, I highly recommend you attend this event.

What we did last night, though, was a little bit different. They had a video screen at the front and played video of a crackling fire. The fire actually had someone poking it and adding new wood every once in a while that, as a speaker, is rather entertaining.

And Andy and I sat at the front on very cool orange barstools and chatted about community, content marketing, and the story of Charles Arment.

What is Community?

One of the first questions he asked me was, “What is community?”

A few years ago, I read a blog post by Mitch Joel. In it (and I’m paraphrasing here), he said community is not about people commenting on your blog or Facebook wall or on your content.

The magic of community is when people start talking to one another, without the benefit of the brand, organization, or author participating in the conversation.

He asked me how I create such an environment on Spin Sucks and I answered glibly that I know how to push many of your buttons so I throw a bomb at you and watch everyone clamor to talk about it.

But, while I do do that, I think it’s more than that. I ask a lot of open-ended questions in the comments. Sometimes I’ll start a thought and not finish it. And other times I’ll tag someone else to join the conversation.

Whatever it happens to be, I encourage conversation between all of you and I love watching you follow one another around the web.

You are community.

Where Does Content Belong?

Then we talked about content marketing. Andy asked me where I think content belongs.

Look, I’m a communications pro by trade. I would love it if content belonged to us.

You see, we’re natural storytellers. We know how to write. We know how to research a story. We know how to put together cohesive thoughts. We know how to pitch media (well, some of us do), which translates really well to blogger relations.

But if we do not figure out – and quickly – how to translate those skills to conversational and engaging writing, content won’t belong to us.

Instead, it will belong to those who love to write, know how to write content that is great for humans and robots, and how to use social to distribute said content in a way that is meaningful and valuable to them.

It will cross disciplines and no one will own it.

Of course, my crystal ball might already be on Thanksgiving holiday. What do you think?

Gini Dietrich

Gini Dietrich is the founder, CEO, and author of Spin Sucks, host of the Spin Sucks podcast, and author of Spin Sucks (the book). She is the creator of the PESO Model and has crafted a certification for it in partnership with Syracuse University. She has run and grown an agency for the past 15 years. She is co-author of Marketing in the Round, co-host of Inside PR, and co-host of The Agency Leadership podcast.

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