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Take a good look around you – the walls between editorial and advertising have finally crumbled. In the old analog era, it was very easy to differentiate between “content” and “advertising.” But in the digital era, that’s all changed.
The lines between “content” and “advertising” have now blurred to a point where it’s simply cheaper and more effective for companies to create sponsored content. And as they create more and more content – blogs, videos, podcasts, e-books – they increasingly resemble digital media companies. There are three good reasons why every company now needs to become a digital media company.
#1: You’ll give your customers what they really want
Once you start to think like a digital media company, you’ll start to have better insights into what your customers really want. Yes, your customers want to be entertained at times, but they also want to be informed. They want to know how to make their lives better, and they want you to tell them how.
For example, if you’re a restaurant looking to attract new customers, stop blasting out advertising in the forms of coupons, discounts and promotions. Consumers are going to pass that advertising right by. They are trained to skip over ads and to ignore billboards.
Instead, think of sending out recipes and cooking tips. Create “how-to” videos on how to make a special dish. And think creatively about how to entertain your customers. For example, to celebrate HBO’s “Game of Thrones,” write up a clever story about how to hold a “Westeros feast.” [Westeros is one of the imaginary lands in “Game of Thrones”]
#2: You’ll build your audience
A major concern of any media company is building audience. Media companies publish the types of articles that are designed to win the most readers. Cable TV networks push stories and narratives that are as sensational as possible, in the hopes of winning viewers. And online websites use all kinds of tools – like using fake news headlines – to get people to read an article.
That doesn’t mean that you need to become just like Buzzfeed or adopt all the sensational antics of most print media these days [Lose 24 pounds of fat in 24 hours! Look 30 years younger in just 30 minutes!] But it does mean that you should be thinking in terms of building new audience. If you’re hosting a new podcast, work hard to find guests that people enjoy. If you’re creating a corporate blog, don’t make it boring. If your articles aren’t getting clicks and views, try again.
#3: You’ll turn customers into fans and followers
At the end of the day, you really want to have your own online community of fans and followers. That makes it so much easier to introduce new products, launch new campaigns, and build buzz about your company. So why not borrow a page from the digital media company playbook?
Digital media companies spend a lot of time deepening their links with fans and followers. They’ll take a popular writer or broadcaster, and create opportunities for fans to interact with them. That might be a live interview, where fans can call or tweet in with questions. Or, it might be something like a Reddit AMA (“Ask Me Anything”). What digital media companies have realized is that fans and followers love getting this inside access. They love meeting this on-air talent. As a brand, you can use this same tactic. Host interviews with your CEO. Let fans meet the people on your team. Use Instagram to offer behind-the-scenes looks at what happens at your company every day.
As you can see, there are several good reasons to think like a digital media company. By doing so, you’ll be able to market your products more effectively and build up a loyal community of passionate fans.