The world of traditional media is being turned on its head – how can it keep up with new trends?
Over the summer, I was invited to speak for a group of traditional media (newspapers, for the most part) publishers and executives. Of course, I wasn’t the only speaker there, but on paper I was the only one who would be tackling the oft-sensitive topic of social media (new media, in a broader sense) and how the world of traditional news outlets can begin transitioning in an effort to adapt and thrive taking these new media into account.
During the two day summit, I was able to sit in on a number of sessions, and while several focused on areas like legal changes to the newspaper industry, I was surprised to find out that there was a fairly significant focus on new media and social media. So what does it mean that an industry entirely predicated on defeating media like Facebook and Twitter (at least in the past) is now embracing it and looking for new ways in which to use it?
There is no avoiding change.
For centuries, print media (in some for or another) has been the dominant source of distributing news and information. It is no surprise that we have experienced a rapid change in the last decade, and it is interesting to see that even the most traditional communications platforms are looking for ways to adapt.
Theodore Levitt conceived of the concept marketing myopia, and I’ve expanded on that idea with my sub-theory of social media marketing myopia. I won’t get into the details here, but essentially, we know that the norm has shifted when certain industries adapt to new technology or forms of communication. For Levitt, this included an industry like utilities. When it comes to social media, there isn’t an industry more apt than newspapers.
Slow isn’t dead.
It might have taken some time, but at long last we’re seeing a big move by the newspaper industry into new media. And not simply using a Facebook page as a source for driving traffic to articles; that’s been going on for a while. We’re talking about a proper use of both data and behavioral trends as they relate to social.
Just because it is ‘late’ in the game – and I use that term very lightly, because we aren’t sure whether or not this is early, late or right on time when it comes to the big picture – it does not mean that there isn’t a tremendous amount of potential that can be extracted from these media. Yes, social platforms have been used as a publishing space for quite some time, but only now are brands starting to really use data effectively.
The key is getting granular. At this conference, I saw that there were some organizations that started moving in that direction. What’s more, they were using this data to start expanding their offers.
New ways of driving interest.
One of the most interesting uses of both social media and data came when I saw an organization that had begun developing gamified versions of their product signups based on data collected from users. As I’ve noted in a number of articles that I’ve written, there is more data available on the individual and group level as a result of social media than we’ve ever had access to in the past. It’s time we started using it.
This was an example of these data going to good use. Finally, a newspaper brand was recognizing potential that existed outside of basic signups, and had begun exploiting that in order to stay relevant.
It’s always interesting to see an industry that has been disrupted. In The Innovator’s Dilemma, Clayton Christensen explains that for incumbents, one of the hardest parts is often justifying the expense needed to shift to a new paradigm (when the paradigm is simply on the fringes of the industry).
Now that social is front and center, we’re seeing big brands making some changes. I was encouraged to see that as a primary focus of conversation, and I’m looking forward to seeing what else comes out of this industry in transition.