Why Blockchain, the Bible, the Battle of Gettysburg, and Your Marketing Content Are More Connected Than You Think
When people hear blockchain, cryptocurrencies readily spring to mind, which is understandable. Blockchain's origins are connected to bitcoin, but the technology itself is rapidly evolving.
Today, blockchain enables people to track a ledger indefinitely for every transaction that occurs, and this doesn't just apply to currency. It works for your content too, logging every step, every change, every connection in a document's life. This goes way beyond a Gdoc's revision history or tracked changes in Word.
(To hear my complete, unfiltered thoughts on the subject, check out the video at the end of this article.)
What I'm talking about is how a seemingly endless number of articles, marketing content or really any type of content at all and their revisions can be linked to an original, regardless of author, by what's known as a hash. (Each entry in the blockchain is tied up to a hash, which consists of a bunch of letters, characters and numbers put together in a unique series. It's like a document ID that can provide insight into publish date time stamp, author name, and geographic location of the area in the world it was created from). This would also track every version change of that content with a unique hash tied back to the original. When you really dig into what blockchain could mean for the future of content, it's pretty amazing.
For example, the Bible is one of the most, if not the most, heavily and persistently updated published works of all time. Now, imagine if they had blockchain when the stories in the Bible were initially recorded or if Matthew, Mark, Luke and John had added a hash to entries. You could trace each gospel to its roots and examine how it changed over time, through countless translations, authors and cultural shifts. And, you would be able to verify where the text began and how it changed over time, which is quite remarkable.
Or, in terms of historical content. History has traditionally been recorded and manipulated by the winners and survivors of events and circumstances who often change tales to embellish accomplishments, cover up misdeeds and generally make themselves look better. Think about how valuable it would be if we could look at memoirs published by actual Confederate and Union troops at the Battle of Gettysburg. We would gain invaluable insight into what they thought they were fighting for and what it was like wearing a wool coat on a 76-degree summer day in typically humid Pennsylvania. Verified content would help cut out assumptions and false narratives and expose the truths, thus leading to the end of subjective arguments.
When thinking about the course of recorded history, it would be absolutely fascinating to see who changed what, when and to infer a bit about why something was altered. Fast-forward five, 10, maybe 20 years in the future. Wouldn't you love to look at how the narrative of today's climate shifts over time?
Applying Blockchain to Modern Marketing Content
As much fun as it is to speculate about how blockchain would have influenced the records of the past and can shape our perceptions of this moment in the future, there are real implications and value for content creation in the here and now. For example, in the most basic case, I might write an article and start the first ledger in the blockchain. Someone sees it and grabs the unique hash associated with my article and pulls it into his or her own article. All of a sudden, we have a chain that connects the two pieces of content.
Then it starts to get interesting. Suppose I update or edit my article. It doesn't invalidate the other piece that included the hash to my original because that story referenced how I conceived of the article initially. And because it would be on a blockchain, you'd be able to reference it over time, throughout iterations. You could see how arguments and positions formed, were further informed and continued to morph over time.
Perhaps where this is most exciting is in terms of marketing material. Companies are constantly creating new collateral, running campaigns and testing positioning - and all of this content can be on a blockchain. We're exploring ways to make it possible for a company's content management system (CMS) to tie content to a particular ledger every time a request to view a piece comes in. This is a huge deal!
Suppose someone writes a piece of content and it changes multiple times in a week, maybe even multiple times a day. If that piece was tied up to a blockchain and it had a hash, when it got a hit or was requested by somebody over the internet in any part of the world, analytics could be run. This would let marketers know that X user visited this version of the content Y number of times. While there is value in this type of feedback, it doesn't end there.
At the end of the month, your analytics software and CMS should be able to easily analyze the blockchain to find that, of all the versions of the piece of content, a specific version was the most popular. In addition to providing that historical chain of evolving messaging and positioning, it shows what resonates with audiences in a totally unique way. It can be like an ever-present, ever-evolving focus group or feedback loop.
We are still in the early innings of blockchain, but there is enormous potential for multiple industries outside of crypto. I, for one, am excited for all of the opportunities that blockchain opens for content marketers.
About the Author:Randy Apuzzo is founder and CTO of Zesty.io, a web content management system (WCMS) company. Childhood hacker turned entrepreneur by age 15, Randy has more than a dozen ventures under his belt and today serves as a digital strategist applying both computer science and brand marketing expertise. Randy is a visionary in architecting solutions that help brands accelerate and scale their global digital content strategies. He is revered for empowering businesses with advanced technology that grants agility, cost savings, security and increased market share.