What is ‘Platform Intelligence’ — Embrace the constraints

There is a new breed of editorial organization. Buzzfeed, NowThisNews, AJ+ and others that create content to distribute on social networks first. Everyone should pay attention to them and understand the methodology by which these organizations operate. It can be broken down into a phrase which really just means “embrace the constraints.”

“Platform intelligence” which is really all about embracing the constraints.

Why it’s important to pay attention?

As Emily Bell of the Tow Center recently articulated: “2015 will be remembered as the year platforms became publishers.”

This post is not about analyzing to determine if this is a good thing or a bad thing. It’s just a recognition. In the past, publishers were in charge of their own space. They only had constraints that they created for themselves based on their own assumptions. Today editorial publications must publish on platforms that have constraints out of their control because they make different assumptions.

Platform intelligence

Your content should be made with “Platform Intelligence.” It’s a phrase I was struggling for in a conversation with my colleague Kim Bui from Reportedly and she put it out there. I still think it’s the best phrase to explain the concept: Create content made to publish on specific networks.

And how does one get into the right mindset for that? Just embrace the constraints.

Facebook has a constraint around video. It MUST auto-play and it starts on silent. You don’t have a choice here. It is a constraint dictated to you. And you must embrace it.

What you get as a result is an increasing number of videos in the AJ+ or NowThisNews style. Why? Because they embraced the constraints an figured out what works.

YouTube has different constraints. Sound is implied, but there is no auto-play. This should change the nature of your content. Instagram has a constraint of 15 seconds.

My friend Brian Boyer says “nobody ever invented a cocktail in a full bar.”By which he means “embrace the constraints.” They are a good thing. They give you direction and purpose. Are you writing something for Twitter. It better be 140 characters. Maybe create an image to make it go further. Make use a quick tool to ensure the image is cropped for Twitter.

It’s a skill that develops over time. One builds sensitivity to the constraints and begins to push their boundaries. Here’s an example of a quiz one can make with Twitter (not a poll!).

All this took was an awareness of the constraints of Twitter. 1) You can upload up to four images. 2) These images will be cropped based on an algorithm that detects the center of an image.

What platforms do you want to succeed on? Your own (create your own constraints). If it’s somebody else’s platform — study their constraints. Then create intelligent content around it.

What does that look like on Medium (for example). Maybe like this.

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