Social Media Is Changing the Content Marketplace

  |  June 15, 2009   |  Comments

What's traditional media to do? Five ways social media is affecting content.

Social media is challenging traditional media organizations in dramatic and sometimes uncomfortable ways. But the same companies that are threatened by this phenomena are also finding it provides them with new ways to generate revenue from their content. Traditional offline media companies are now playing catch up and working to adapt to the dynamic conditions within their environment.

While continuing to evolve and expand, social media encompasses a wide variety of formats, including blogs, microblogs, podcasts, online photographs, online video, social networking sites, widgets, and social bookmarking. Each format provides users with a variety of means to congregate, interact, and share information.

As a result, most, if not all, forms of social media have become content providers, communication facilitators, and audience aggregators. These functions have been traditionally fulfilled by media companies generating revenues by controlling each function. By contrast, social media tends to be controlled and led by its users and don't always yield direct revenues.

Social media is changing the content marketplace in five profound ways that have an impact on traditional media:

  • Breaks news. Through the use of social media tools like Twitter, blogs, and social networks, ordinary people share news about events that happen to them in real time. These mechanisms have become a source for traditional news outlets.

  • Provides information dissemination. Social media acts as an information distribution service as well as a communication tool. Depending on the format, it allows one-to-one, one-to-many, or many-to-many communications. Information is distributed through multiple channels, including RSS feeds, blog and podcast posts, Twitter updates, and postings on social networking sites and bulletin boards. Interestingly, many social media sites leverage e-mail to circulate their messages.

  • Filters information for users. By enabling content sharing and ratings through such tools as Twitter, social bookmarking, and social news sites, social media streamlines information gathering based on the preferences of people users respect and find interesting. This is the wisdom of crowds applied to targeted audiences.

  • Builds community around people, brands, and events. The use of social media tools like Twitter, Facebook, and blogs enables a wider audience to participate and gather with like-minded individuals. Many traditional media outlets, such as CNN and Comedy Central, use their television shows to promote and build their social media communities.

  • Supplies conduit for consumer input and commentary. Social media leverages the strength of individual user contributions through comments and submissions to blogs, Twitter, and video sites to enhance the conversation. For example, The Weather Channel uses viewer photographs and video to extend its reporting.

Additionally, social media can make content more findable via commentary, sharing, and search results.

What's Traditional Media to Do?

Despite these seismic changes to the content landscape, traditional media companies still have an important role to play:

  • Provide events with context and a cohesive narrative with journalistic integrity and perspective.

  • Curate information to transform news into useful insights for readers.

  • Provide investigative journalism to uncover challenges.

As a result, media continues to evolve. In the process, online journalists have become attuned to their audience and work to build a following for their content. They've started to:

  • Use online resources, including social media, to source stories.

  • Track content performance based on traffic, ratings, and comments.

  • Manage content's long tail by developing stories around topics that niche groups want or need on a on a regular basis, such as "Top 10 Outdoor Grill Tips."

  • Craft articles to make them more search-friendly through the use of keyword-rich content and titles.

From a revenue-generation perspective, media companies need to think in terms of diversified revenue streams. It's critical not to confuse popular content with readers' willingness to pay, especially since advertisers are looking for audiences aggregated around a topic. There are three ways for media companies to make money; most companies must use a combination of methods to ensure ongoing revenue streams:

  • Advertising. Marketers pay to promote their products via a range of offerings.

  • Subscriptions. Readers pay to get information they perceive to be valuable delivered to them on a regular basis.

  • Supplemental content products. Consumers, who may not be regular users, pay a one-time fee for content-related products, such as reports, events, Webinars, DVDs, mobile access, and so on.

Tracking Content Performance

There are three major categories of metrics to monitor to understand your content's performance in light of social media's impact. They are:

  • Social media engagement. Depending on your content offering and audience, you should be tracking the following elements to determine the strength of your brand as well as how readers feel about you and emerging trends:

    • Registered users or followers give you a sense of the size of the community around your brand.

    • Comments on social media sites show how involved your readers are with your content and how they feel about the topics you cover. Remember, only a small percentage of readers will contribute.

    • Track how your content reach has been augmented through the use of social media tools. At a minimum, track where your traffic comes from and enable users access via search.

    • Search results reveal how social media has increased the ways users can find your content.

  • Content performance:

    • Unique users show how many people have read your content.

    • Comments and ratings on your site give insight to how readers feel about your content. It can be used to determine which topics are of interest for future content choices.

    • Pass-along rates indicate how interesting readers find your content.

  • Financial indicators:

    • Revenues. How much revenue did the content produce?

    • Expenses. How much did the content cost to produce and distribute?

    While social media has caused disruptions to the media landscape, astute content providers will continue to find ways to leverage these tools to extend their reach and increase revenues. It's critical to understand how to participate and engage users in a productive way. Traditional media isn't dying; it's evolving to incorporate the strengths of social communities.

    Join us for a one-day Online Marketing Summit in a city near you through July 1, 2009. Choose from one of 16 events designed to help interactive marketers do their jobs more effectively. All sessions are new this year and cover such topics as social media, e-mail marketing, search, and integrated marketing.

ClickZ Live Toronto On the heels of a fantastic event in New York City, ClickZ Live is taking the fun and learning to Toronto, June 23-25. With over 15 years' experience delivering industry-leading events, ClickZ Live offers an action-packed, educationally-focused agenda covering all aspects of digital marketing. Register today!

ClickZ Live San Francisco Want to learn more? Join us at ClickZ Live San Francisco, Aug 10-12!
Educating marketers for over 15 years, ClickZ Live brings together industry thought leaders from the largest brands and agencies to deliver the most advanced, educational digital marketing agenda. Register today and save $500!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Heidi Cohen

Heidi Cohen is the President of Riverside Marketing Strategies, an interactive marketing consultancy. She has over 20 years' experience helping clients increase profitability by developing innovative marketing programs to acquire and retain customers based on solid analytics. Clients include New York Times Digital, AccuWeather.com, CheapTickets, and the UJA. Additionally, Riverside Marketing Strategies has worked with numerous other online content/media companies and e-tailers.

Prior to starting Riverside Marketing Strategies, Heidi held a number of senior-level marketing positions at The Economist, the Bookspan/Doubleday Direct division of Bertelsmann, and Citibank.

Her blog, HeidiCohen.com, was nominated as a finalist for Top Social Media Blog of 2012 by Social Media Examiner.

Heidi is also a popular speaker on current industry topics.

COMMENTSCommenting policy

comments powered by Disqus

Get the ClickZ Analytics newsletter delivered to you. Subscribe today!

COMMENTS

UPCOMING EVENTS

Featured White Papers

Gartner Magic Quadrant for Digital Commerce

Gartner Magic Quadrant for Digital Commerce
This Magic Quadrant examines leading digital commerce platforms that enable organizations to build digital commerce sites. These commerce platforms facilitate purchasing transactions over the Web, and support the creation and continuing development of an online relationship with a consumer.

Paid Search in the Mobile Era

Paid Search in the Mobile Era
Google reports that paid search ads are currently driving 40+ million calls per month. Cost per click is increasing, paid search budgets are growing, and mobile continues to dominate. It's time to revamp old search strategies, reimagine stale best practices, and add new layers data to your analytics.

WEBINARS

Resources

Jobs

    • GREAT Campaign Project Coordinator
      GREAT Campaign Project Coordinator (British Consulate-General, New York) - New YorkThe GREAT Britain Campaign is seeking an energetic and creative...
    • Paid Search Senior Account Manager
      Paid Search Senior Account Manager (Hanapin Marketing) - BloomingtonHanapin Marketing is hiring a strategic Paid Search Senior Account Manager...
    • Paid Search Account Manager
      Paid Search Account Manager (Hanapin Marketing) - BloomingtonHanapin Marketing is hiring an experienced Paid Search Account Manager to...