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:
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:
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:
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:
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:
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.
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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.
Heidi is also a popular speaker on current industry topics.
March 19, 2014