Because we now live in a technology-infused BuzzFeed-ian world of short attention spans and “listicles,” here are our Top 10 key takeaways (and even some concrete ideas) that may help you define your overall business strategies (especially those of you in “traditional” media who may need to fundamentally transform your way of thinking). In true David Letterman fashion, we start with lesson #10 and work our way down to the single most important lesson of them all (which should now be obvious).
Cue the drumroll, please.
LESSON #10 – The Internet and technology have changed everything about engaging with an audience – content development, content marketing, content distribution, and content monetization. Hey, traditionalists! This means you need to re-think essentially everything about your media business … and then re-think it again (including who is actually doing the thinking for you – do they have the right background and digital DNA?). Hire young, hungry new talent (social media experts, engineers) and the right kind of advisors to accelerate your company’s learning.
LESSON #9 – The speed of change and technological advancement is only increasing. That means you should increasingly invest in studying it (including the key players and what they are doing) and challenge yourself to stay ahead of it (and the competition that is increasingly trying to do the same). Task your digital transformation-focused team and top advisors to identify some of the most promising Media 2.0 companies ("Media 2.0" meaning our world where technology is infused in every part of the media and entertainment [content] world). Conduct pilot programs with them. Trust us, those innovators will be thrilled to do it – and likely won’t even charge you for it.
Or, identify some of the most compelling Media 2.0 companies before your competitors do and strategically invest in them in order to get your feet wet and learn, learn, learn. Even bolder, start a digital/tech-focused incubator internally – essentially an R&D lab with innovative companies that apply to be part of it (cases in point, Fox’s Innovation Lab and the Disney Accelerator). If nothing else, that move will send an important message to your company, employees and investors that you take the disruptive Media 2.0 forces that engulf you seriously and are taking real, concrete action to use them to your game-changing advantage.
LESSON #8 – Data matters. It is incredibly valuable and can be a game-changer for you. Internet and technology-driven market intelligence should inform your strategies, decisions and customer engagement like never before (and can also add a critical feedback loop). If you don’t capture data – and measure everything – then you aren't doing it right. Be a hero. Spend time to identify new data capture, measurement and analytical tools and companies, and experiment with them. You likely will be surprised by the enlightening information you see, but really was there all the time and simply masked by preconceived traditional Media 1.0 notions.
LESSON #7 – The Internet has made the world truly global, borderless, connected. The opportunity to expand and monetize your reach is here and now. Seize it, and don’t feel the need to go it alone. Partner with like-minded international media companies and technology innovators to speed your path. Conduct a deep, thorough overall market and competitive landscape market assessment to identify the right ones. And then connect efficiently.
LESSON #6 – We now live in a multi-platform world, where mobile has become the single most important screen and universal connection point. Mobile gives the tantalizing opportunity to reach – and engage with -- virtually any consumer on the planet at any time, 24/7. Embrace this reality – and massive potential opportunity – and craft your strategies of engagement with mobile top of mind. This lesson is especially true to reach millennials -- the audience marketers most want to reach. If you don’t “get” this, then just look at the kids around you and see what they are doing.
LESSON #5 – Our increasingly mobile-first world demands mobile-first engagement, and that ain’t text. Video engagement is the language of mobile, and your customer engagement and execution strategies should reflect this reality. This edict applies to virtually all companies in the Media 2.0 ecosystem (no matter what size -- yes venture capitalists, even to you). High quality video production and hosting are now drop dead easy and cost effective. Tell your stories, visually. Feature them on your website and in social media. If done right, then your followers will do the rest of the work for you.
LESSON #4 – All media is (or has the potential to be) social, particularly in our always-on mobile-first world. And remember, if your audience finds your content compelling, they will be your most effective marketing channel. So, invest deeply in social. Hire young, hungry social media mavens, agencies, and advisors to craft and execute an effective social media strategy that is fully integrated into your overall marketing and engagement strategy and authentic to your brand. “Authenticity” is the guiding word here. Gotta be true to your voice. Audiences are savvy – and getting savvier.
LESSON #3 – Study what the kids are doing. Watch them. Listen to them (yes, actually listen to them – don’t assume you know). They are the best Petri dish to discover and understand new technologies, new services, new ways to engage that are gaining traction with coveted audiences and can potentially be leveraged in exciting new ways (remember what AwesomenessTV's founder and former CEO Brian Robbins’ kids did for him – they led him to create AwesomenessTV which he later sold for $115 million in less than three years – what have your kids done for you lately?).
Start a focus group program to formally inject this priority into your company’s DNA. Or at least just spend some real time at the dinner table with your kids. They’ll tell you what’s happening out there (we are not joking, you will learn a lot).
LESSON #2 – History does repeat. New technologies have always disrupted the media and entertainment industry’s status quo (television disrupting radio, the Betamax later threatening television and the movies, you know the drill), but the overall business of media and entertainment evolves and always comes out significantly stronger and more deeply engrained in our daily lives – albeit transformed -- because of it. Despite the significant pain felt by many to date as a result of our Media 2.0 revolution, the overall media and entertainment ecosystem pie will grow -- massively.
The music industry just enjoyed its first extended period of real growth in 2016 after nearly two decades of endless decline. OTT video streaming services proliferate worldwide and direct-to-consumer distribution points are “always open.” And, we have only barely begun to leverage Media 2.0’s transformational possibilities.
So, don’t be blind to this history. Believe that Media 2.0 will follow this path. Communicate that confidence and overall priority across your teams to set the overall tone. Better to be positive than negative in any event, because you certainly won’t stop this train. It’s going with or without you. So, where do you want to be?
LESSON #1 – It is time for action, not reaction! Don’t reject the obvious forces around you (like the kids who gave up whole summers to play Pokemon Go last year or those same kids texting their friends right now as you read this) simply for fear of not doing it right or disruption to your long-standing business model. Financial projections not penciling out? Maybe your traditional assumptions just don’t work in today’s Media 2.0 world. Remember, no one has “it” figured out. Few, if any, have defined the perfect business model.
But, you absolutely must be in the game – boldly! Experiment with new distribution models, marketing and monetization strategies. Iterate. Partner. Buy. Aggressively hire the right talent (executives, advisors) to chart the course. Establish the new rules of the Media 2.0 game.
Heed the cautionary tales of the ghosts of Media 2.0 past – the Blockbusters of the world -- that failed to internalize and act upon these lessons (especially Lesson #1). Tremendous opportunity awaits, but you must actively seize it and put yourself out there.
Boldly. Tenaciously. Relentlessly. Fearlessly!