Seeing through the Haze Surrounding Websites, Blogs and Social Media

Communicating regularly is hard work. It takes skill; it takes a voice; it takes having something to say; it takes time. Making money from it is even harder.

The functions provided by websites, blogs, and social media clearly make it possible for people to express themselves in ways never before imagined, to share their opinions, to express their hopes and dreams, and to share the details of their lives. Media companies are watching these developments and many are rushing to provide content on any communication technology or application the public uses.

Although large numbers of people are trying the new technologies, they are reacting to them in different ways. Some find them highly useful and satisfying; some find them worthless and disappointing; some find them a worthy pastime; others find them a waste of time. What this means is that—like all technologies—they are more important to some people than to others. Consequently, managers need to be realistic in assessing their potential, the extent to which they are being used by the public, and the extent to which they provide opportunities that media companies should pursue.

Because those promoting the technologies are self interested, uptake figures are easy to come by. Finding out who has tried the technologies, but decided they were undesirable is harder. However, research is showing some interesting results in that regard. We now know that 60 percent of the people who try Twitter stop using it within a month, that only about 5% of blogs are regularly updated, that more than 200 million blogs have been abandoned, and that about 37 million web domain names are deleted every year.

Most people and organizations who try these new communication opportunities make limited use of them or give up on them altogether because of boredom or because the opportunities don't provide sufficient results. This is not to say they are not unimportant, however. A good number of individuals and companies are using them to create new abilities and opportunities to communicate with friends, colleagues, and customers and to establish new businesses and revenue streams. Doing so, however, takes commitment that most people and firms are unwilling to make.

From the business standpoint one has to be realistic when evaluating the opportunities presented. Media executives need to ask hard questions: Do all media companies need to provide content across every available platform regardless of the cost and effort? Are all types of news and information appropriately carried on all platforms? In what ways is branding and marketing for the company actually served by these engagements? How are these monetized? What are the returns on the investments? What are the risks of not engaging these technologies?

Success is not easy in this technological environment. It requires investment, effort, regular activity, and provision of content that people want. Media managers choosing to use these new technologies must be clear-headed in their decisions and pursue well-founded strategies or they will be lost in the maze of competing and alternative opportunities.


Diego Fonseca said...

I use to think people act with Twitter and blogs like kids with new toys. And I guess in media we are still looking for the light at the end of the corridor, running mostly with no sense, a little bit lost, trying to understand which new technology will save our old business (model) --putting the cart before the horse.

Jo Diaz said...

Finally, Robert, a voice that makes sense. To date, I haven't created an RSS for anyone, because the information being offered is so pervasively available and lacks the value and reasoning that I've been seeking. I just read, "Why journalists deserve low pay," which led me to your "The New Media Business" blog. Thanks for excellent reads. You offer what you're writing about... Real value from (and for) my perspective.

The day you figure out how to monetize your blog, I'd pay the subscription fee. -- jo

cpetersia said...

I agree that a collection of blogs an micro-blogs will not create the type of information ecosystem that will truly add value to each individual.

Fundamental changes are needed in the way we create information in the first instance, such as described by Dan Conover in http://xark.typepad.com/my_weblog/2009/05/the-lack-of-vision-thing-well-heres-a-vision-for-you.html