Digital media disturbances - stories that matter

Profile picture for user jreed By Jon Reed November 6, 2014
Digital media is in a constant state of disturbance - but what can enterprises learn from these upheavals? Here's a fresh batch of stories - with our analysis and action steps.

[sws_grey_box box_size="690"]SUMMARY - Digital media is in a constant state of disturbance - but what is the enterprise relevance?.[/sws_grey_box]

Since we last boldly ventured into digital media disruptions, plenty has happened. Given that marketing

businessman in rain
without media is an empty vessel indeed, there's always more to learn - and hazards to avoid. Before it's all said and done, I'll tie U2 into the mix - and, for the first time ever, Taylor Swift. Let's do this.

Same deal as last time - I'll rip through a few stories that stood out from the noise avalanche, assess their enterprise relevance, and recommend a course of action.

Why Copyblogger Is Killing Its Facebook Page
Erika Napoletano
key excerpt: "Have you ever stared at something, knowing you’re doing everything right, but it still won’t … freaking … work? That’s how Copyblogger has felt about its Facebook page for quite some time."

enterprise relevance: high. In a decisive move that terrified self-appointed social media gurus everywhere, Copyblogger wiped out its Facebook page - 38,000 fans in one convention-dashing click. Now, to be fair to the story, during the analysis Napoletano did of the Copyblogger page, many of these 38K fans were the infamous fake fans that diminish the value of a Facebook page.

As content marketing veterans, Copyblogger prides itself on high audience engagement. In contrast to (shocker!) Google Plus, Facebook yielded zilch for interactivity. During one Facebook experiment, Copyblogger invited Facebook fans to ask them anything they wanted. Out of 30K+ respondents, only 3 replied. Copyblogger kiboshed Facebook.

This is in line with Copyblogger's warning about "digital sharecropping," which comes down to: don't put too much IP in platforms (like Facebook) you don't own and control. For enterprises, I don't recommend abandoning key platforms as much as prioritizing them based on engagement (for example, even a Facebook page with low on-page engagement may drive some traffic to your site). Copyblogger did the right thing by benchmarking traffic stats and engagement. Your stats might lead you to a different conclusion.

best course of action:

  • Use your web site as the content hub, with external sites like Facebook as "spokes."
  • Continually evaluate the stats/performance and engagement levels of hub and spokes, and adjust your resource investment accordingly.
  • Beware chest-thumping numbers like "38,000 fans." Become skilled at evaluating which followers are part of your core audience - reaching the right audience is everything.
  • No sacred platforms - if one platform isn't working for you, focus on those that do.

Guest Post: Let Our Sponsors Blow A Little Smoke Up Your Ass
by: Kin Lane
key excerpt: "We aren’t in the business of understanding where the actual technology space is headed, we are in the business of telling you stories of where we want the technology space go, in the service our own selfish desires."
enterprise relevance: extremely high. If you can stomach the profanity, Kin Lane's satirical post on sponsored content is worth a quick read. Lane's angst is evidence that readers don't appreciate when brands attempt to buy credibility, and use that editorial space for vendor product spew. Publications flailing for business models - and the vendors who pony up the dollars - are both taking risks with reader trust and credibility.

Page views from new audiences may be tempting to the enterprise marketer, but nothing is worth the erosion of trust with core constituents (not to mention alienating new readers with compulsive promotion.

best course of action:

  • Save "Why our solution in the most wonderful" type content for deep in the community where only the uber fans are present.
  • Create informational content about your solutions for your web site hub - content that is low on hyperbole but high on customer examples, product FAQs, and instructional videos and tutorials.
  • Sponsored content can be effective - with credible content and transparency.
  • Posting on other sites, whether sponsored or not, can extend brand reach.  Put your blogging employees on a product pimping diet. Challenge them to write so-called "thought leadership" content - content that expands audiences and earns trust through field views and trend analysis - without product pushing.

Nielsen Will Soon Rate Everything on the Web, From Videos to Articles
by: Marcus Wohlsen
key excerpt: "The new ratings, Nielsen says, can rank an online video next to a podcast next to an article. Unlike television or radio, the internet isn’t a medium that funnels just one format. The aim of Nielsen’s new ratings is to create a context to figure out what people care about online, regardless of what form it takes."
enterprise relevance: high. Nielson's expansion of ratings beyond television is an acknowledgement that media producers are in a battle for attention, and that skirmish takes place on multiple devices in multiple formats. It's not enough for enterprises to shift from brand messaging to digital publishing - the content must be consumed.

Virality doesn't matter - but even within our target audience, we're competing for their so-called mindshare with everything from Facebook to streaming Netflix. Enterprises don't need to put out Game of Thrones caliber content to get attention. But the content must have deep relevance - and entertainment value doesn't hurt either.

best course of action:

  • Enterprises should expand their view of the media competition beyond their direct competitors. There is plenty to learn from television and movie producers about how to produce content.
  • Attention should be measured by whether the content is reaching the key decision makers and influencers in the target industry. Are they sharing it, arguing about it, acting upon it?
  • Biases towards one content format should be tossed aside in favor of experimentation and cross-platform benchmarking. Example 1: audio-only podcasting is gaining mainstream momentum (surveys show most individuals spend three hours a day commuting, cleaning, and/or working out - activities ideal for audio-based consumption). Example 2: Longer-form content is not dying as some predicted - larger phones are contributing to a willingness to consumer longer pieces.

U2 screws up, and Taylor Swift controls her media empire
key excerpt: "'I don't think it was very good marketing. I think that's been proven out by the commentary and the backlash. It was very heavy-handed and inappropriate.'"

enterprise relevance: higher than you'd think. If a band like U2 can get in trouble for spamming genuinely free content, enterprises should think twice. Most companies I've worked with define spam far more narrowly than their own subscribers do. Meantime, U2 admitted after forcing their album onto iTunes users that they made the mistake of giving into a desperation for attention - something most of us have fallen prey to.

Taylor Swift, on the other hand, is calling the shots. She's one of the few to dictate her own terms to Spotify, pulling out of the service completely. Most musicians are compelled to basically give away their content via Spotify and other platforms, whereas Swift's fans are shelling out for her CDs as if it was 1992. Taylor Swift's approach to media is not unlike Apple's - few other brands have that luxury. Most enterprises are closer to U2's situation - some brand recognition, but not enough jugular brand loyalty to ignore the need to engage audiences... on their own terms.

best course of action:

  • Spam is defined by the recipient. To avoid a spammy reputation, subscribers must have easy and total control on the type of messages they receive, and in what format. Example: blogs with informational content should not contain promotional posts (Or, readers should be able to subscribe to individual categories of content based on interests - very few enterprises offer this currently).
  • Don't give into the temptation to overblast or sensationalize for attention. Put out kickass continued imbued with subject matter expertise, build up a distribution platform made up of those who value that content, fuel the resulting conversations into a community, and stay the course.
  • Unless companies are in the pure media or publishing business, they should think long and hard before selling their creative content like Swift does. Content should be given away to power adoption - though sometimes in exchange for opt-in data and community registration.
  • Enterprise should take it one step further and give away their paid online training. Online training courses should be moved under the marketing budget and treated as a marketing expense, building good will (and a larger prospect database) in the process.

That's a wrap. These pieces were picked from my curated channel, enterprise media disruptions.

*Brian Clark of Copyblogger is a smart dude with an entertaining style. I highly recommend his New Rainmaker online course on content strategy (free with sign up).

Image credit: Lonely Island © lassedesignen -

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