I’m more and more convinced that in today’s competitive web, it’s almost impossible for a company to develop a website with just paid or employee writers. You have to have some sort of social network, or aggregated content on your site just to compete with the volume of posts on the web. Never mind the issue of the benefits of encouraging thought leaders to write for your site, and link back to you from their own sites. While leaving content development up to employee volunteers is a disaster waiting to happen. Rather companies have to plan, edit, and administer to building sufficient quality content on their sites.
I look at about.com, Associated Content, Mashable, Social Media Today, CMO.com and more websites, all of these sites have some sort of combination of paid content, aggregated content, and free content from columnists and a social community. Not only does free content, or commission content within a social network lower the upfront costs of content on a website, but there are personal influence and seo linking benefits from encouraging thoughtful writers to write for your site.
In a post on the Google Blog about Google's continuing efforts to root out poor quality content farms, you see both a symptom of the success of building a business model where content is generated quickly and cheaply, and a path for how to avoid the Google axe. Yes, its okay to build a big site with plenty of content, but how you build that content, and its quality is what's important in today's competitive web world.
I've long been interested in how social media can be used for marketing success, and my personal research has taken me into the realm of corporate social media, my Fortune 500 business blogging post is an example of that.
Here I'm not sure what term to describe the new reality of the web. You can no longer just throw up a blog and expect to be a leader in the community, though that's possible!. To win in the content game, you have to help foster the whole community. I'm now thinking it would be a good idea to look for examples of Fortune 500 companies who are building "Quality Content Farms," or maybe "whitehat content farms."