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Over the years, I’ve greatly and intentionally reduce the number of conferences I attend.
There are many good events out there for social media professionals. But I found that I was personally seeing less and less benefit and saw the conferences as a nice day out of the office.
But xPotomac is one event that I circle on my calendar for many reasons, including tremendous speakers, intimate setting, and extemporaneous (no slides) presentations. It’s real and awesome.
The 2014 edition brought it strong, with an array of presenters, that all told one major story:
Success in communications and technology will be predominantly based on strategically taking advantage of opportunities in front of you.
Jim Long, the dean of digital media integration, spoke about how he launched the online portion of his career: by experimenting and developing a platform when nobody else has figured out how news outlets could utilize video.
Peter Corbett, the man behind iStrategyLabs, outlined how many of his team’s innovations came from banter around the office. “Wouldn’t it be neat if…?” turned into globally-visibile campaigns and products.
Lauren Vargas, the head of Aetna’s social media, discussed how looking at social media communications like a city engineer forever changed how a highly-regulated company utilized the digital realm for customer service and lead generation.
Those are just three examples — every speaker touched on the theme, and it’s one that is critically important in the industry.
We thrive on seeing the potential and harnessing it.
What’s the next big thing? How can we set ourselves up to take advantage of it when it hits? How can we position ourselves for the future?
It’s easy to get caught up in the fear of the unknown. It’s so damn easy to be content with where you are and what you are doing.
But if you aren’t preparing for the future, you won’t be able to spot your on-ramp:
News media that chose to “hold the brand really close and tight” in social lost a chance to humanize themselves, says @TobyDiva. #xpotomac14
Another study, conducted by Princeton University and covered by Time, claimed that Facebook will lose 80% of it’s peak user base between 2015 and 2017.
Yeesh — Is the glass 83% full or 80% empty?
The divergent looks on Facebook’s global dominance begs a simple question be asked: Is Facebook too big to fail?
In November 2013, I wrote that Facebook doesn’t have a so-called “teen problem.” Yet. Teenagers are finding their connectivity needs elsewhere. Instagram, Snapchat, etc., are the culprits. But Facebook was designed for college students…so let’s revisit those adoption percentages in a few years.
Facebook is the first social network that cracked the code – gaining widespread adoption at all age levels (13+). Friendster didn’t do it. MySpace became laughable. And even Twitter, while still the clear #2, is pretty far behind #1.
So, as the #1 social network in the world, with a billion users and counting, how could they ever fall victim to the Princeton prediction?
By standing pat. Which is something they’ve never done.
Much to the chagrin of users, marketers, and businesses, Facebook constantly tinkers with their platform.
Be it Edgerank algorithms, profiles vs. timelines, graph search, ads, sponsored posts, groups, the news ticker, or any of the other endless changes they’ve instituted, Facebook has never been afraid to come up with a big idea and test it…and then adopt it globally, if it works how they want it to.
Of course, their status as a publicly-traded company does muddy the waters, as they are beholden to shareholders above users (but, truth be told, those shareholders are likely users themselves). And looking at the stock price, long-term growth seems to be the trend, even if this week of mixed news has investors a bit uneasy.
The Bottom Line: While the comparison is interesting, social networking is not a disease. Facebook has a clear pattern of fighting to be the most relevant social network on the planet. Look for that trend to continue. Facebook won’t fail because they won’t let themselves fail.
[Disclosure: I received an advance copy of the book for review.]
When you ask people what they should post online to see results, it’s not uncommon to hear them respond: “Cats. Lots of cats.”
However, in “The Digital Crown,” Ahava Leibtag systematically outlines every single aspect to winning content. And it’s assuredly not (as simple as) cats.
Leibtag is the power behind the Aha Media Group, a content strategy firm based in the Washington, DC, area.
Her attention to detailing content strategy and production (case in point: an entire chapter on Iterative Content!) reinforces that content is truly a combination of science and art.
The book contains countless citations from 2013 materials and very recent case studies, giving it a fresh, hot-off-the-presses feel. It’s clear that the guidance provided here is actionable.
Perhaps my favorite – and maybe one of the most important – chapters is #10 – “The Dream Digital Team.” As digital channels multiply each year, with exploding and ever-changing capabilities, it takes a full team to excel. It builds off the critical takeaway that all organizations should view themselves as publishers. With that mindset, having the right talents in-house or within vendors and partners, is critical for today’s marketers. (Sound like a familiar theme? Geoff Livingston and Gini Dietrich wrote a book just on that.)
“The Digital Crown” takes a 360-degree approach to content, from strategy to design to engagement, so experts strong in one aspect can truly immerse themselves into the larger picture.
Leibtag’s writing style is quite conversational, making complex theories easy-to-understand, while frequently referencing earlier chapters to show how everything ties together.
Let’s make this simple: If you are a digital strategist or content producer, this is the book you’ve been waiting for. If you are looking to break into the field, this is the book you need.
Let’s say you literally had a vault of video content.
What would you do with it in 2014?
In the old days, the choices were simple: partner with a TV network or make a ton of video/DVD releases.
Depending on how much content you actually had – and how large the demand was – you may consider creating your own TV network.
But times have changed. Content isn’t consumed in the same way it was 30, 20, even 10 years ago, and making the wrong distribution decision could cost you millions.
World Wrestling Entertainment found themselves in this exact situation. They own virtually every hour of televised professional wrestling in United States history, going back for decades and covering nearly every regional territory that ever aired a show.
Instead of taking a more traditional route, WWE announced the new WWE Network, a 24/7 streaming platform, at the 2014 Consumer Electronics Show.
The innovative network, launching in February across virtually any Internet-connected screen, costs $9.99/month with a six-month subscription. It will have live-streams, plus on-demand content from the video library…with very limited advertising support.
Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of the service is that it includes each of the monthly Pay-Per-View shows. Those shows retails around $50 each…and with 12 of them a year, it appears to be a significant financial gamble.
However, WWE frequently takes calculated risks in content distribution, dating back to Closed Circuit TV. This network is the next step in their evolution. I’m sure, though, enough new customers that weren’t purchasing the PPV shows would consider shelling out $120 a year for what used to be over $600 in PPV shows…plus the archives. (Full disclosure – I may be having a chat with my wife about a subscription.)
Why is this such a landmark model?
Because it removes distributors from the process entirely. A global entertainment producer is delivering their content directly to the end-user.
Could it usher in a new era in video content devoid of a cable company or satellite provider?
Will enough customers visit the WWE Network portal on a ongoing basis to make it successful?
Everyone who distributes content digitally will be paying attention.
Watch: WWE Chairman Vince McMahon announce the WWE Network: