Telegraph and Television to Social Content – Emerging Media Breeds Innovation

When it comes to communications outreach for any organization, emerging media matters. Where once social media networks were only used by niche communities and individuals; today, emerging media, social networks and consumer engagement is far too big to ignore. Social media has changed the fabric of daily life – influencing personal interactions, product purchases, and even the world at large.

Over the course of history, different forms of “new” or “emerging” media technologies helped to cause or create social changes – from the electrical telegraph (which no longer linked communication to the physical transportation of messages) to television (which entertained with sound and moving pictures at homes and paved the way for commercial-driven programming). Today, social media channels can act as a public forum for consumers to discuss important issues, review products, companies or services, express opinions or share stories and feedback. Where once brands had the ability to deliver one-way messages through advertising, it’s now nearly impossible for companies to ignore the flow of two-way dialogue with consumers.

In 2009, Erik Qualman introduced Socialnomics – a book discussing the implications of social media not only on daily life, but also about how businesses could harness social media to increase sales, cut marketing costs, and reach consumers directly. His short video, detailing the expanse of social media, exploded online and in some ways helped to solidify the foothold that social media was having on society through a series of shocking statistics. Now, #Socialnomics 2014 is the fifth version of that most watched video series on Social Media.

The metrics are memorable:

  • 53% of Millenials would rather lose their sense of small than their technology.
  • If Facebook were a country it would be the world’s 3rd largest and 2x the size of the U.S. population.
  • More people own a mobile device than a toothbrush.
  • “Selfie” is now a word in Webster.
  • Grandparents are the fastest growing demographic on Twitter.
  • 53% of people on twitter recommended products in their tweets.
  • 93% of shoppers’ buying decisions are influenced by social media.

According to Qualman, “We don’t have a choice on whether we do social media, the choice is how well we do it.” He sure is right!

Within just the past few years, there has been an obvious shift away from the 4 P’s of Marketing (Price, Product, Promotion, and Place) and toward the 4 C’s (Creating, Curating, Connecting, Culture) of digital. Brands are now using different mediums to build and connect with consumers using engaging content. Media has evolved, again! And, as it was with the telegraph and television, this “new” medium is a platform for innovation, connectivity and strengthened collaboration.

This shift in technology gives Marketers the opportunity to create relevant interactions with consumers, rather than bombarding them with traditional one-way messages. However, according to a 2011 study done by Ogilvy & Mather on the impact of exposure to social media on sales and brand perception, traditional media is not completely dead and gone. While it’s true that social media is a top driver of impact, when combined with one or more other channels, integrated programs are aligned with significant increases in spending and product consumption.

Consumers are now influencers who have the ability to greatly extend brand reach by sharing social content through their own networks. Knowing this, marketers need to create content that no only gives information, but is also usable and relevant for each individual consumer. SoLoMo, or the interaction of social, local and mobile marketing efforts, will play a large role in the year ahead. By capitalizing on the rise and increased use of smartphones, brands will be able to offer even more personalized and localized content experiences that will help to fuel consumer engagement and loyalty.

Perhaps a new definition for emerging media, could be called: Social Content. Social Content is what engages consumers through a holistic lens – combining traditional, social and research to build content that is relevant and takes an omnichannel mindest to marketing, integrating consumers in the conversation and using them as a channel to greatly extend brand reach and loyalty.