Social networks do a lot these days. They keep us connected with friends, updating us to their every (geographic) move. They act as personal assistants, reminding us of birthdays and tasks. They recommend movies, television shows and books, while also providing hubs for casual gaming and other entertainment. Social networking has become the new form of media, and may be considered the savior of all traditional media when it’s all said and done.
Could that really be true? Yes. Social networks have an ability to gain a lot of eyeballs, presenting a handy marketing channel for advertisers. More importantly, they are becoming so integrated with our lives on a technical level that we are finally seeing more traditional media companies look to social networks for their own distribution methods.
I’ve been expecting this for a long time, and the continued interest of large media companies in the likes fo online social networks egged along the theory that traditional media and social networks would eventually become one.
At the onset of popular social networking, traditional media companies scoffed at their potential and regarded them as little more than channels for advertising. The hope was to redirect traffic and activity back to traditional media outlets, though this never happened on a large scale. Instead, social networks began cropping up around the various forms of traditional media that had been modified and reprocessed for sharing on the web. As traditional media began to feel threatened by such a democratic process around media consumption, the mainstream media companies began investing in social networking instead of continuing to fight it.
the end result is a decided interest in merging things like television with social networking. Steve Rubel mentioned in a Forbes post last week that the efforts towards merging these two forms of media is nearing on the horizon. Interactive consoles for gaming are taping into social networks, with chat tools and other forms of communication being woven into the very television experience wee grown accustomed to. In changing the way in which we consume media yet again, we’re witnessing a necessary shift on the part of mainstream and traditional media sectors that initially couldn’t recognize the potential behind social networks.
Instead of trying to fight set top boxes, on-demand programming, chat integration, mobile devices and the democracy of online social networks, traditional television-watching is merely joining forces with the Internet. It only makes sense and I honestly wish we could have seen such developments begin far sooner than later.
An interesting aspect of the new expectations surrounding the merging of television and social networking is the shortened access between brands and consumers. Interconnecting consumers around your content means connecting them to your brand as well. Great for advertisers and other forms of market research, there will be a huge increase in interest around consumer data as well. Giving the consumers more power towards the consumption of their media actually makes it easier to compile specific data that can be used for personal recommendations, and streamlining the distribution of all media in the very near future. By commoditizing the personalized effect of media distribution, traditional media companies are able to finally provide the services consumers want without compromising their own fiscal goals.
Oprah, for instance, could benefit greatly from furthered social networking integration with her Oprah Winfrey Network. As Oprah prepares to depart from daytime television, her network will live on with the programs and services it provides. In its hopes to enable more interactive options for its consumers through social networking, Oprah will be able to carry on her desire to affect her audience members in a personable manner. Perhaps this was the best time for Oprah to consider such a major career change in regards to leaving her show in order to build a greater empire.
Several other brands will be taking note as the Oprah Winfrey Network and others jump into social networking early, and with both feet. With a few years of social networking integration with a market research angle behind us, brands are more ready than ever to share the freedoms and responsibilities of their brand management with the consumers around the world with Internet access.
Suggesting that corporate America is finally beginning to trust consumers with their brand names, the ongoing integration of television with social networking will quickly change media consumption on a conceptual level. A la carte tactics will be needed on an increasing basis, and companies’ ability to respond to this demand will be able to be met. Monetizing the new structure will also become an appealing set of options to consumers, as the allocation of funds regarding the creation of content will shift in response to changing demand and a new avenue for marketing to and learning from socially aware consumers.