When you find the place where the majority of the public goes for information, then you have found the “media.” The future of media is not going to look like it did to your parents or grandparents. For them, the media was TV, newspaper and radio. When they wanted to be informed or entertained, that’s where they turned. Increasingly, from our generation forward, we are turning toward the social platforms to get informed on that which we care about.
Consider Facebook, a platform that very accurately refers to that center section we scan multiple times a day as the “News Feed.” There, we get breaking news from sources we trust and have selected, from pundits and commentators we subscribe to, to Interest Lists, brands and organizations we want to hear from, and something no local TV news outlet could ever dream of providing…news about what’s going on with our friends. All communicated using engaging multimedia. It’s what we personally want to know, in real time.
Twitter CEO Dick Costolo recently said they want to “more closely tie the shared experience on Twitter to the actual event that is happening.” That means when something major is going down, such as the Olympics, they want Twitter users to be able to easily find and sort the tweets around that event. With NBCUniversal, they’ve created a hub page that will curate tweets, millions of them, coming in from fans and participants alike. Twitter will have and be a bona fide Olympics media destination. Name any event of significance on the planet, from debates to concerts to uprisings, and Twitter can do the same.
Probably the biggest difference between the old media and the new media is the ability for users to better manage their time and information input capacity by customizing their media experience. The evening news on TV tells you what “they” want to tell you, what they think you should know, and how they think you should hear it. This one-way approach that leaves the user completely out of the process is falling…fast.
But what about discovery? Surely there’s information people should hear even though they’re not actively looking for it. According to the Pew Research Center, 39% of Twitter users said most of the news they got on Twitter in January was not content they would have read anywhere else. eMarketer says over 11 million users get their news from Twitter. Clearly, watching that Twitter feed is going to expose any typical user to info, or links to info, they were not looking for or anticipating.
Brands can continue to track Facebook’s stock price, discuss privacy issues, demand ROI that was never demanded of traditional media, and withhold judgment about this whole “social network” thing all they want. But any brand that doesn’t recognize the evolution of the social platforms into the new media, where the majority of the public gets their information and a great deal of their entertainment, risks missing the new marketing boat.