The social company — and implications for media companies

By Steve Outing

My Editor & Publisher Online column this month looks at the mega-trend of companies becoming more “social.” That is, they’re starting to move money away from traditional advertising and into content, services and community. Companies like Nike are figuring out that they can be media companies, too, in additional to being brand companies.

I think there’s an opportunity for media companies to take advantage of this. The alternative is to ignore it and watch traditional online advertising revenues dwindle in the years ahead.

Author: Steve Outing Steve Outing is a Boulder, Colorado-based media futurist, digital-news innovator, consultant, journalist, and educator. ... Need assistance with media-company future strategy? Get in touch with Steve!

2 Responses to "The social company — and implications for media companies"

  1. Dan Pacheco
    Dan Pacheco 10 years ago .Reply

    I applaud you and anyone willing to take such a risk to do something in a new way like this.

    I have a few thoughts which I get into in an admittedly long-winded blog post (link below). While I know next to nothing about your business model at Enthusiast Group, I have some experience in social media at The Bakersfield Californian, where we are having some success (nothing huge, but we\'re in the black with some of our social media brands).

    Having print components may have helped bring in more near-term advertising to pay the bills and give you a longer runway, while also serving as marketing for the online communities. I think the question for a startup like yours is whether you could have afforded the high costs to add print as part of your media mix. It\'s a good reminder that traditional media companies have some big advantages over startups, although many still don\'t take advantage of them.

    While I don\'t think this will be the case for the long haul, most businesses still take print on faith while at the same time expecting amazing, trackable results from online ads that they pay less for. The irony is that some of those same advertisers who actively use a social network like Bakotopia to promote events, and could even be considered active members of the online community, still prefer print ads. There is a disconnect there, but it\'s the current reality.

    That said, I don\'t think a Bakotopia magazine would work without all of the activity online, which is where almost all of the content comes from. And The Northwest Voice would be prohibitively expensive. The online and print work hand in hand for those brands.

  2. Dave Bullard
    Dave Bullard 10 years ago .Reply

    For what it\'s worth, a very small-town street view:

    I have to say I agree wholeheartedly with your analysis of the weakness of user-submitted content. Most of what we receive at our publications from readers tends to be of limited interest. It\'s important, no doubt about it. It reflects the \"everydayness\" of life in a small town. But our reporters exist to show the community what\'s happening at a different level.

    For example, we could rely on citizens to tell us what they think of the proposed city budget. But what is that discussion worth without a basic overview of the budget, written by someone who has looked at the budget, talked to the folks who drew it up, and has written about budgets before? The annual complaint of \"my taxes are too high\" lacks the context of what the tax money is being spent on.

    Investment in regular, professional content is a mandatory item for any web-only operation. Period.

    I also think that there\'s a third level, between the reader\'s street-level view of the community and the journalist\'s broad-level view of the community –and that\'s where user blogs begin to fill the gap.

    These are often the province of the \"super-reader\", the person with some writing skill (or at least desire) and a personal, emotional investment in the website who\'s willing to blog for free or for the occasional gift certificate.

    User-contributed content is not enough to grow an audience rapidly. Our growth spurts always corresponded with a major spot news event — a block fire or massive snowstorm, for example. Certainly, events that qualify as \"spot news\" or urgent news happen in the sporting enthusiast circle as well. And that\'s when all three levels — pro, pro-am bloggers, reader-contributors — come together as one to show the true power of the medium.

    For what it\'s worth…

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