The way we communicate and consume media is changing. This is affecting old media channels and creating an explosion in the media market. According to a report (download) from Ross Dawson last month the growth in the global media and entertainment market is set to grow from $1.7 to a massive $5.4USD by 2024 (in todays terms). The report was part of Ross’s Future of Media Summit 2008, which Seth Yates did a good review on.
New media has brought a change in market dynamics with more consumer choice in how/where we consume and share information. This change is breaking down old media markets. Existing firms are being forced to try and communicate with potential new generational and innovative customers through new media. However Enterprise firm’s social network communities and external corporate blog initiatives don’t seem to be working. This lack of success has reduced the number of larger firms externally blogging according to a report ‘2B2B Blogging Takes Nose Dive’ from Forrester and reviewed by Gavin O’Malley. In addition most corporate on-line community sites are failing according to a report by Ed Moran of Deloitte and review by The Wall Street Journal.
Miguel Gonzalez believes that ‘Corporate culture discourages the kind of openness needed to make a blog — corporate or not — worth spending time reading’. I think the issue may stem from customer engagement and employee trust. The challenge to firms is to be risqué as shown by successful blogs. These blogs present a personal view which can be deliberately controversial to spark conversations. This spreads the word and thus the link. Yes, it’s viral marketing at work again but by a real person and not from a faceless marketing department.
Being controversial is not normally associated with speaking your mind as an employee, with the exception of journalists. Even they are known get in trouble when stretching the truth a little too far. Some firms ban their employees from expressing any opinions on their personnel blog in reference to their industry. This seems a little dragooning but you can understand business fear of reprisal from customers should an employee make front page news. Firms also fear that employees may inadvertently give away secrets to competitors. All this control is probably borne out of a lack of trust in employee’s judgement because of our current hierarchical command and control management systems.
Are blogs and new media channels going away? Almost certainly not and overtime they probably will move more into the mainstream. A good but long review ‘Beyond Blogs’ by Stephen Baker and Heather Green from BusinessWeek concludes: “Even if the bubble bursts (Web 2.0)—and we predict it will—the power of social media to transform our businesses and society will only grow.”. I agree, change and evolution is inevitable. So is developing a effective new media strategy important for large firms? Defiantly, because as Ben Parr says social media is about ‘customer retention and growth’; ‘which meets company’s one overarching goal: to increase profits.’ As always the challenge is change and the need to change is getting ever more pressing.