To say that the world of media is changing would be an understatement. The rug has been utterly pulled from underneath the strong media houses of times past.
But consumers aren’t spending less time with media — in fact, they are spending 20% more time consuming media than 10 years ago, says Ben Elowitz, co-founder and CEO of Wetpaint, a Seattle-based, self-described next-generation media company.
Elowitz says that the social web has taken its hold and will change media for good. He pointed to the fact that one in seven minutes spent on the Internet is spent on Facebook, the world’s largest social network.
There are three concepts, Elowitz says, that are now part of the Web’s DNA as a result of social media’s stronghold:
- Identity: We now have a permanent history on the Web, and it follows us around from site to site, thanks to the open graph and open APIs.
- Interests: The first 100 years of media was written as broadcast, Elowitz explains. Media companies guessed what people cared about and presented it in one mode. Now, media companies can determine what individuals care about and respond by adjusting content accordingly.
- Relationships: Social media enables us to document our relationships with our friends, family, interests, brands, and even publishers. For media companies, this lends way to opportunities to develop and learn from direct relationships with readers.
Elowitz presented five key tips for publishers looking to become next-generation media companies.
1. Reach Your Audience in Every Channel
Media companies must realize that their audiences are fragmented in how they access media, says Elowitz. “You have to be fully connected to match how your consumer is fully connected,” he advises. “Find out where you audience is and when, and connect with them.”
That means making your content available on every channel that your audience is on: mobile, social, tablet.
If your audience is 25-34 year old males, Pinterest may not be the place for your brand, says Elowitz. But your video content, as accessible on YouTube and via iPad may be a win, he says.
2. Segment Your Audience
Media companies must stop looking at consumers as one big audience, says Elowitz. One person is not like all of the others.
Elowitz says that personalization is the ultimate goal. His vision for media is that publishers will someday serve “the right content for the right person in the right place at the right time.”
Segmentation is the first step to personalization, he says, Once personalization is reached, he explains, each segment contains only one individual.
With personalization, you reach maximum relevancy to your audience. Segmentation is the first step.
3. Use Data to Test and Measure Everything
In order to understand how content is faring, media companies must collect data on every action taking place on their media channels.
“Don’t just throw [the data] into a giant database,” Elowitz warns. “Instead, make use of it.”
Test, test, test.
4. Create a “Laboratory Culture”
In order to get the most use out of your company’s data, its essential to create a “laboratory culture,” says Elowitz.
Stress the importance of testing data in your organization by walking the walk. Run tests.
“Throw each of your channels to the test and measure responses from your audience,” he says. Wetpaint runs 10-20 tests per week so that it can tell what type of content resonates with uses.
Wetpaint has found, for example, that when writing about Jersey Shore, the company gets a 10% lift when leading with Snooki, versus a 10% drag when leading with Vinny.
5. Institutionalize the Takeaways
When your company learns something about its audience or about what type of content resonates with its audience, share it with the greater organization, says Elowitz.
Don’t just write it down as tribal knowledge — share it with your greater team and company via a playbook.
“Write it down like it’s on stone tablet,” says Elowitz. “Treat it like gospel.”