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How is “New Media” Affecting Your Company’s Strategy and Brand?

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by Andy McCaskey, Principal

If you have not given executive thought to trends in media and entertainment, that oversight might be a mistake. Video and audio production and distribution are radically changing as devices and consumer tastes undergo both revolutionary and evolutionary change. Monitoring and controlling how these new forms of information flow affect your brand is essential.

 We are talking about “New Media”, defined as informal content that is being increasingly produced and consumed by both external and internal audiences either on-duty or off-duty. The term characterizes access to the river of information that flows around us in both professional and entertainment streams outside of traditional media channels such as trade press, radio and television. 

Created on anything from new low-cost professional gear to tablet or smartphone, New Media augments and in some cases replaces traditional communications content and channels. Generational lines and preferences blur the lines between personal vs. enterprise information and professional vs. entertainment streams, while the “Bring Your Own Device” terminal flexibly displays content interchangeably in both roles.

New Media content is generally informal in nature, not highly produced, indexed or searchable, and is generally outside the view of traditional outbound marketing activities. Most examples are found in social media channels like blogposts, Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn updates, or on sites or platforms dedicated to newer delivery forms.  New Media postings may or may not be company endorsed. They may contain valuable product information, including positive or negative reviews. They may also present a risk of exposure of intellectual property, methods or processes. And, on the horizon, “Gamification” - the addition of gameplay elements into customer, prospect, and employee communications - will further extend the portfolio to be managed or monitored.

Have you included New Media as you develop your Competitive Strategy?

Product strategy and the creation of product roadmaps require up-to-date awareness of competition, market trends and business models to insure relevance and responsiveness. If you are not extending your scan of the environment to monitor and evaluate the stream of informal New Media content from internal and external stakeholders, you may be missing signals from the marketplace or technical trends of strategic importance.

A good starting point is a specific plan to monitor (and map) the New Media presence of competitors. This plan will enable you to position and profile the extent, reach and maturity of their outbound communications, and offer possible insight into the portfolio of expertise that they might use for future offerings.

Video-On-Demand: What should your initial scan and monitoring plan include? Searches on YouTube, Blip and Vimeo using topic, or product search terms can be rewarding. These services distribute New Media content with a search and play consumption model. If the videos have been tagged with keywords, searches within the site can also be beneficial. Don’t forget actual product numbers in addition to marketing model names as possible tags.  Searching for Subject Matter Expert (SME) by name and then observing nearby terms can be very illuminating about a competitor’s future direction.

Podcasts: By contrast, Podcasts (either video or audio) are generally on a ”subscribe and download for later viewing”  consumption model that is location independent.   The download places a complete copy of the material on the receiving device - usually a smartphone or tablet, which gives flexibility in time and place since an internet connection is not required for playback.

A search on the podcast section of the iTunes Music Store by topic, author or keyword can quickly reveal the presence of SME activity, either official or personal - and at least on the Mac platform, allow you to “needle drop”, or sample various podcasts without the need to subscribe and download the individual episodes. Like blog posts, podcasts can be a part of the official outbound marketing content of your competitors, or they may include content that is not monitored, approved or endorsed. In that case, it may have been produced by an individual with the rather minimal production equipment and skills that New Media creation and distribution requires.

Streaming Video: Streaming video, like video-on-demand, requires a continuous internet connection but unlike podcasts do not leave a copy of the material on the display device. Livestreaming such as uStream.tv, Livestream.tv or private streaming instances is most useful for live event coverage, such as conferences, interviews, or seminars. Some services allow recording of live streams for later playback and often enforce useful keyword tagging and descriptions which shifts their delivery model to VOD.  Streaming video can be displayed on smartphone or tablet within WiFi coverage. Mobile results are more highly variable, depending upon 3G or 4G (LTE) network capacity and loading. Mobile streaming video can also quickly consume subscribers data plan bandwidth allowances.

“Over-the-Top” (OTT) or Connected TV (CTV): delivery technology generally uses inexpensive ($50–100) set-top box adapters to provide dedicated channels displayed on a flatscreen TV for entertainment or education. Examples include Roku, AppleTV, and Boxee. Many new TV sets have these capabilities built-in. Like other forms of video on demand they require a continuous internet connection. Unlike most content on YouTube, Blip, or Vimeo - these channels are curated by the channel publisher and tend to have multiple episodes on a topic, theme or relate to a single Subject Matter Expert. Google TV combines some of the attributes of these devices, but adds browsing capability that is absent on other devices

Each of the New Media delivery forms may also be found embedded in social media channels such as Facebook, Posterous, Tumblr, Twitter, or Google+. Other forms of social media that are growing rapidly (such as Pinterest, Instagram, and similar visually oriented curation sites) generally have significantly lower usage for most products. Depending upon your product, these could be very significant trend indicators and provide the linkage thread back to some of the distribution channels described above. Both presence and movement (activity) may be significant early warning of consumer interests and trends.

What’s the future for New Media? As Paul Greenberg, CRM Analyst and ZDNet author has said, “Peer trust has become the dominant form of trust”. And communications from Subject Matter Experts to peers, and conversations from prospect, customer or employee are all going to take advantage of the ease with which New Media content can be informally created and distributed. Your marketing strategy – both inbound and outbound – should include a rapidly advancing New Media plan.

In my next article, I will expand our look at the relationship between New Media and Social Media and begin to look at “Gamification” elements and their emerging influence.

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