There's been a swell of conversation lately to the effect that organizations have become media companies. But what does this mean? And how should organizations approach this evolution?
- Charlene Li, Founder of Altimeter Group, Author of Groundswell, and of “Open Leadership,” due out in May from Jossey-Bass
- John Byrne, former Editor-in-Chief of BusinessWeek.com and Chairman and Founder, C-Change Media
- Karen Wickre, Senior Manager, Global Communications and Public Affairs, Google; and
- Don Bulmer, VP, Global Communications at SAP, and Board Member and Fellow of the Society for New Communications Research
We started with the premise that brands now have three interactive marketing options open to them: earned, paid and owned media. Sean Corcoran of Forrester has written about this in some depth, along with prescriptions for how marketers should approach the mix. But the implications extend broader than marketing--through customer ecosystems, product development, innovation and recruiting, to name a few.
Some of the key themes that emerged from the discussion:
- Being a media company means building an audience for an ongoing relationship--not a single campaign. Most companies don't think of customers as an ongoing relationship--they think of them as a transaction. Further, a lot of times I feel like I am being messaged to, and I don't like being messaged to. (Li)
- Content creation within an organization doesn't necessarily mean that one or a few people create all the content. A good deal of the job entails "surfacing content that is not necessarily the news of the day." With 80 Twitter accounts at Google (up from one a year ago) and 150+ blogs (up from one six years ago), there are plenty of opportunities to share the right info with the right people (Wickre).
- On why the media model needs to change. In new media, the incumbent is incredibly disadvantaged (Byrne).
- Social media has great utility for B2B companies--not just consumer. SAP has made listening a priority. The SAP Eco-Hub has two million developers, but "engaging with those on Twitter and blogs is only part of our strategy to engage with our ecosystem." (Bulmer)
- Listen. Be open to ideas that are not your own. It might just give you serious competitive advantage (Bulmer). But you need to respond quickly (Wickre).
- Content strategists must think carefully about mobile. Not all content is suitable for mobile devices. Think about how you use mobile--more for conversation and interactions. When it comes to deep content like a white paper or research report, "people can wait." (Li) At the same time, companies need to make their media atomic and shareable on many devices, a la NPR and the New York Times (WIckre)
- Social interactions are about emotion, context and experience. In the business-to-business world, it's the power of experience that's the most important (Bulmer).
- Expect -- and learn from -- failure. Media companies develop a lot of scar tissue, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't engage and put yourself out there. Stay in a bubble and you won't get hurt, but you won't get any relationships either (Li).
- Social media has made all organizations porous. The key is how organizations respond to that fact.
- Content is conversation. Executives should write content like they're talking to a customer. It's just a conversation. (Li)
- Analytics are different from metrics. Real metrics are the measures that mean something to you (Li).
- The trifecta of social engagement: content + curation + community (Byrne)
- Not everything needs to be social or authentic. "Sometimes a press release is just a press release." (Tom Foremski)
[UPDATE: Video from the event]
Sean Corcoran, "Defining Earned, Owned and Paid Media"
Brian Solis in Mashable.com, "Why Brands are Becoming Media"
Tom Foremski, "When Every Company Is a Media Company"
Doc Searls, et. al. "The Cluetrain Manifesto"
Chuck Tanowitz, Fresh Ground, "Steve Wildstrom on the New Journalism"
You can take a look at the Tweet stream at hashtag #SYAMC.