What Do Spinal Tap, Selling in a Digital World & Marketing Complexity Have in Common?

This Is Spinal Tap

They have more in common than you might imagine.

In addition to being Business.com’s CEO, I’ve been writing about sales, marketing and management for our audience. Lately I’ve covered the challenges of selling in a digital world, the era of marketing complexity, and the veracity of digital media numbers. I’ve also had the chance to quote my favorite fictional heavy metal guitarist, Nigel Tufnel. Turn it up to 11 indeed.

  • Sales. The value proposition for sales in business-to-business used to be simple; if you had industry and product expertise you were of tremendous value to customers. But buyers today can access more information on your company, product or service by tapping the wisdom of their social/business networks and reviewing your website, than anyone in your sales organization can provide. The balance of power between buyer and seller has shifted, creating the need for sales organizations to rethink how they add value and engage customers. I outline the challenge of selling in a digital world and prescribe 5 tips for improving your sales efforts in the post: Are you Increasingly Saying “We Have a Sales Problem”? 5 Tips for Selling in the Digital World.
  • Marketing. It’s not clear yet whether this is a golden age for marketers or a nightmare. Marketers today have access to a dizzying array of new technologies, platforms, systems and networks, with a new one launching every week. At first blush, it would appear that these technologies are ushering in a new era of efficiency and return on investment. Upon further examination, however, they are also ushering in a level of complexity that is distracting, confusing and frustrating for many marketers. An old adage a professor of mine used to quote comes to mind; “Complexity in business equals cost. If you’re not the one selling the complexity, you’re the one paying for it”. I offer some solutions for marketers in the post: The Top 4 Tips for Dealing with Marketing Complexity.
  • Media. Back in the mid-90’s I was part of a team that revolutionized Business-to-Business publishing. We did it by changing the editorial formula for the magazine InformationWeek and then more than doubling the circulation to over 400,000. This was back when a large circulation for a controlled circulation magazine was 200,000. InformationWeek Magazine went on to become the largest B2B magazine in the world in terms of ad pages and revenue and one of the largest B2B brands in history. I mention this to give some perspective to the issue of audience numbers in B2B digital media today. Like my favorite fictional heavy metal guitarist Nigel Tufnel, who’s amps famously went to 11, the numbers simply don’t make sense anymore. When the quoted reach and engagement numbers exceed the number of US businesses in existence, it’s time for a dose of reality. I call my own industry into the town square for some tough love in the post: Turn it Up to 11: B2B Media is Having it’s Spinal Tap Moment.

It’s been a blast to interact with the Business.com audience via these posts. For my friends, colleagues and fellow media and marketing geeks who read Uphoff On Media, I wanted to do a brief roundup of these posts for your enjoyment. As always, your thoughts, comments and sharing are greatly appreciated!

The New Business.com

The new Business.com

When I joined Business.com last month I mentioned we would have some news coming soon. Well, soon is today and I’m excited to announce we’re officially launching the new Business.com — including a new site, new company identity, new features and an expanded product line. For my Media, Marketing and Tech geek pals I wanted to share a few thoughts on the changes in the media business that fueled my interest in joining the team and that helped drive our thinking around the new Business.com.

I believe there have been two foundational “From-To” shifts in the media business.

  1. Audiences have shifted from interest to intention. People can now discover and engage with information that maps to their specific needs and signal their intentions based on their digital body language-whether their intention is the acquisition of more knowledge, social engagement or the actual purchase of products and services.
  2. Marketers have made a corresponding “From-To” shift, from targeting based on demographics to targeting based on intention.

These shifts are ushering in a new era of Intention-Based Media that will have a profound impact on the way buyers discover, learn about, compare and buy products and services and how they engage with and buy from marketers. These trends are also creating a significant market transition in business media — one that will ultimately make the shift from print-to digital look mild by comparison.

The new Business.com reflects the research and analysis we’ve done to better understand what buyers want today as they look to discover, learn about, compare and buy business products online. We believe that our new design and approach is a strong example of Intention-Based Media and a significant step towards how business media will operate in the future.

Our new site is only one step however. We are already hard at work on  v 2.0-which will include further refinements to our platform, an expansion of our suite of performance marketing products, heightened levels of contextual content integration and functionality as well as social and mobile enhancements. Our intention is to have Business.com serve as a platform that buyer, marketer and industry application developer, can each harness to run and grow their businesses.

These are extraordinary times in media, marketing and technology and certainly extraordinary times for us at Business.com. I look forward to continuing to share our journey and to getting your feedback. We’re also hiring! Business.com is actively recruiting for sales executives, performance marketing specialists, developers and many other roles, so take a look at our About Us or Careers page for more details.

What’s Next: It’s Business.com

Business.com

Last May, after 6 great years at UBM – and a decade helping legacy media businesses adapt to a new reality defined by the Internet – I decided to step back.  I wanted to really explore the trends that continue to reshape media, marketing and technology before deciding what to do next. Over the past months I’ve talked to dozens of great companies and individuals, learned a great deal and had a great time.

Today I’m thrilled to announce that I’ve joined Business.com as CEO. I couldn’t be more excited to join the new leadership team at Business.com and the family of JMI Equity companies. So why Business.com?

JMI Equity acquired Business.com in order to create the leading online source for business product and services purchasing. They’ve attracted a world-class team and established a new headquarters for the company in Carlsbad, California, a fast growing tech center in north county San Diego. Business.com is a brand, company and team of people that is uniquely positioned to serve buyers looking for products and services and marketers looking to reach, engage and sell to them.

In the next few months we will be rolling out a new site, new features and other plans for growing Business.com. I’m excited to be a part of the team and look forward to sharing more about our plans and what I learn along the way.

The Ultimate Scarcity

ceir predict

My economics professor would be so proud. I was listening after all. Scarcity does drive all markets. Even if the digital revolution we are living through sometimes makes us feel like ubiquity does. The Internet has proven to be an enormously disruptive force for many industries, uniquely so for media, commoditizing and displacing newspapers, magazines, books, music and more to come. Many media companies with print businesses, have focused on live events as safe havens, hoping against hope that digital technology wouldn’t or couldn’t disrupt exhibitions, conferences and events. Many of these same companies held their breath when virtual events and “hybrid-events”; virtual extensions from live events, were launched, again hoping that this wasn’t the beginning of the long and painful slide they had seen with their print businesses. The reality is however digital media is proving to be a natural ally of live media. Frankly the synergy between digital media and live media is what we had dreamed digital and print would be…but never was. In a digitally-centric world, bringing high-demographic people together in one place at one time around common interests is the ultimate scarcity. In this regard, digital media is actually accentuating the value of live media. Even if exhibition, conference and event producers haven’t yet caught up to this fact.

Just because digital is turning out to be friend not foe for live media at this stage, does not mean that exhibition companies don’t face challenges however. They do. The current Center for Exhibition Industry Research Index forecasts increases in exhibition and attendance over the next several years but for the most part the numbers are still below historic highs. At the same time, Outsell Inc research shows that marketers have started to expand their event spending, increasing the percentage they spend on their own corporate events as opposed to traditional exhibitions and conferences. And while not directly competitive, the rapid rise of digital marketing options competes for attention and for overall marketing budget with exhibitions.

On Thursday September 13th I’ll be leading a panel at the Center for Exhibition Industry Research: CEIR Predict Conference in New York City, where we will be addressing these and other issues facing the exhibition industry. The conference is based on the annual CEIR Index that forecasts attendance and revenue for business-to-business exhibitions in 14 major industry categories. The CEIR Index has become a major resource for exhibition operators as well as investors and industry analysts. My panelists, Joe Loggia: CEO of Advanstar and Sandra Toms Lepedis: VP/GM of RSA and I will be focusing on the IT, Communications and Consumer Goods and Retail sectors. These sectors are leading indicators for the exhibition industry certainly but they also serve as beacons for the overall economy; given that business technology purchasing and consumer confidence are two of the major predictors of economic growth and well being.

We will be focussing our discussion around four main themes:

  1. The outlook for overall exhibitions and events
  2. The outlook for events in the IT, Communications and Consumer sectors
  3. The impact of marketers spending more on their own corporate events
  4. The impact of digital marketing on exhibitions

So what does this have to do with scarcity? Everything. As someone who has run some of the largest exhibitions and conferences in B2B Media , I can tell you that we as an industry have done very little to illuminate the unique value that exhibition’s and events have today. You think Steve Jobs introduced every significant new product he ever launched at an event because he liked trade shows? High-quality business events serve as strategic marketing platforms; attracting buyers, sellers, the worldwide press and the entire industry ecosystem in one place and one time, creating an event-driven marketing opportunity that can be sustained and refreshed thematically via digital media. Take a lap around the web and check out how much business content comes from major events today. Keynotes at industry exhibitions are regularly streamed, posted and passed around via Twitter and other social networks. Video from conferences like TED serve as tutorials and guides. Companies and entire industry sectors organize product launch dates, company meetings and related events around major industry events to increase impact and efficiency. And the fragmented media world the web has created makes live events even more valuable.

My beef with my own industry however is I think we still position exhibitions and events based on square footage…not on value. We need to understand how to present the narrative of the value of live media in a digitally-centric world. We need to help marketers understand the strategic marketing platform that exhibitions represent, as opposed to being just a line item in an annual marketing budget. We need to present our events for what they are, the ultimate scarcity. If you’ll be attending CEIR Predict please drop by and say hello. If not I’ll post the presentation we will use to pace our discussion here. As always, feel free to add your comments to this post and let me know your thoughts.



 

Ignore the Analysts. 5 Reasons to Go Long on Facebook.

Facebook

Historically I’ve not invested in individual stocks, particularly tech-related stocks. Given my background running technology media companies I’ve followed the policy that if you have responsibility for editorial operations, you don’t trade in the stocks of companies your media brands cover. I’ve always analyzed the value of tech companies however: their market positioning, their product offering, their management strength and their ability to scale. Lately Facebook’s stock has taken a beating, but here are the top 5 reasons to be optimistic about the company’s future:

  1. 995 Million People Can’t be Wrong. We’ve never seen these type of numbers. Ever. In any medium. People routinely talk about 1 billion people having watched the Super Bowl or the Academy Awards on television. The largest television audience ever generated was 111 million people. The passive Facebook audience, those that log on but don’t post content, is 135 million. Bear in mind that this audience has been created on a platform that is only 8 years old. Analysts, pundits and financial wonks will tell you that “the user growth is slowing” and that FB has “hit a lull”. If the audience growth stopped cold tomorrow, FB would still have the largest engaged reach of any medium ever created. By far. And the value of this audience, given its size and demographics, will continue to go up, as the challenge of aggregating large audiences gets harder and harder in a fragmented media world.
  2. It’s About the Product. Mark Zuckerberg innately understands that the key to building a great company is to focus myopically on building insanely great products. FB has been designed with a focus on the user experience. Facebook turned down General Motor’s request for unique ad units that would take over the FB home page. As a result they lost a $10 million customer right before their IPO. This is a focus on product and user experience. Yes, conspiracy theorists also suggest that Facebook is taking your personal data and will be doing all sorts of evil things with it. You are in far more danger of your local dry cleaner or neighborhood restaurant misusing your credit card data than you are of Facebook misusing your personal data.
  3. Social & Mobile. Many analysts have pointed out that Mobile represents an enormous threat to Facebook’s future, as more and more people access the web from smartphones and other mobile devices. Ok. Hang on a minute here. What exactly are people accessing via mobile devices?  Oh, their Facebook networks heh? Look we are now officially in the Mobile web era. Technology has always been purchased for specific applications and uses, however. People are and will continue to use Mobile devices to access their social graphs and as they do so Facebook’s traffic and revenues will grow as a result.
  4. Brand Marketing Matters. The “B” word, branding, has taken it on the chin in the first two waves of the Internet. Infomercials that drive direct marketing response have reigned supreme and Google’s ingenious, automated AdSense platform has dominated the landscape. But there is a massive amount of advertising and marketing that has been left on the sidelines when it comes to digital advertising. The demand for brand advertising has kept television, some print magazines and outdoor relatively healthy the last decade. Facebook is the first online platform that holds the potential to truly serve the needs of both the brand marketer and the direct marketer at scale. Facebook is hard at work demonstrating the value for passive ads on the site based on demographics. Once this takes off, every ad agency in the world can finally dive in the pool and make money creating and buying online advertising. This will create a world of hurt for television, but that’s for another post.
  5. Facebook as a Platform. In the mid-90′s it appeared that the Web Browser could replace Windows as the dominant platform in computing. Microsoft’s rapid reaction to Netscape put a hitch in that plan however. Microsoft reacted so aggressively because they knew whoever controlled the platform ultimately controlled the entire ecosystem. Today social networks have become platforms. Social networks sit at the center of gravity of the computing experience. They are the application that is always on, regardless of the device or platform and as such systems are and will be built to optimize the social experience online. Facebook has the potential to become the dominant platform and a strong and vibrant Facebook economy is emerging.

No stock price predictions here. Simply my take on the value of Facebook as a brand and platform. And yes, I’m going long on Facebook.

The Sorry State of Online Measurement: We’re Still Honking at Billboards

Billboard

Never has something so valuable been worth so little. Never in the history of media has a still new medium had the vast majority of its inventory valued at zero. Such is the state of online advertising. The latest click-through rates for online media sit at .09%. Given that click-through rates serve as the foundation for how the majority of online inventory is valued, this means that 15 years after the launch of the commercial Web, 99.91% of online inventory is worth nothing. Pricing online advertising inventory based on the number of people who click ads is the equivalent of pricing billboard’s based on the number of cars who honk when they drive by. Literally.

So how the hell did we take one of-if not the-most valuable mediums ever created and set the value of the audience generated; other than their physical click-through reactions, as effectively worthless? More importantly is this it? The 100′s of billions of impressions delivered online will only be valid if someone clicks, likes or in some way socially shares? Perhaps. But I don’t think so.

The unprecedented power of search technology overwhelmed any other forms of measurement and the entire ecosystem of the first and second waves of the Internet were built around direct-marketing models. This created a massive disruption that destroyed many parts of general media and sent an entire generation of online media into the death spiral of gaming out search engines. Sites that look like cars at a NASCAR race, drive by traffic, ever increasing audience costs and sketchy demographics followed. As did the massive and in many cases devastating swings in audience based on Google’s shifting algorithm…always given cute and unassuming names like Penguin :).

We are at a fascinating and crucial inflection point in the maturation of online media. Marketers are realizing that reach, demographics and engagement are all key and that many of the first generation metrics that defined value in online media simply aren’t relevant today. There are also new measurement systems emerging that show promise at being able to blend the quantitative power of web with qualitative data that reflect interest, affinity and intent, providing a more holistic view of the value of specific online audiences. If you’re running an online media business today however you cannot wait until these services become mainstream. You need to start investing in research that allows you to clearly define the reach, demographics and purchase interests and intentions of your audience. The current syndicated tools are too weak. Being able to differentiate your brand value via detailed demographic and psychographic profiles of the audience you generate is key.

Yes, I know some of the ad agencies won’t easily accept proprietary research as it is challenging to fit the data into the quadrants they use for comparison. Being able to stand out and position the unique value of your brand is the key to your current and future success, however. Online media brands today will only scale if they can either:

  • Truly harness a direct marketing metric like click-through’s to make money, which requires massive amounts of traffic, or
  • Differentiate their brand based on audience value and charge a commensurately valuable and profitable CPM.

Unless you can do the former you need a clear strategy for the latter. The problem is I see way too many online media businesses today stuck on the bridge between these two positions. In other words, hoping that more cars honk as they drive by their billboards.

5 Reasons Advertising is Dead (And What Smart Marketers Are Doing About It)

Advertising Is Dead

After a decline of over 11% in 2009, the US advertising industry grew at the anemic rate of 2.8% last year. Estimates for 2012 are in the same range. But with two major events that are historically drivers of high advertising spending — a presidential election and the Olympics — slated for 2012, the lack of projected growth raises significant questions.

Advertising as we’ve known it is dead. Here’s why:

  1.  The focus on metrics: Online advertising picked apart the advertising revenues of daily newspapers — from classifieds to daily specials to job listings — piece by piece, until there wasn’t anything left. The lure of measurable click rates and the promise of tangible ROI soon began to attract non-classified advertisers, too, and the fast slide had begun. The traditional advertising goal of creating awareness simply doesn’t translate well once the expectation has been set that everything could be measured. “You can’t manage it if you can’t measure it. If it can’t be measured it, it isn’t worth doing” was not a slogan created by an ad agency.
  2. The rise of “owned media:” The shift from paid to owned media has been dramatic: Outsell Inc projects that marketers will spend $72 billion on their own direct to consumer digital initiatives this year. Fifteen years ago, this money would have been spent on “advertising” paid media. Marketers have grown weary of searching for the elusive reach and frequency formulas that give them the right share of voice. They want to be the only voice.
  3. Shifting the budgets to lead gen. Historically, advertising expenditures sat “above the line,” classified as an overhead expense, while spending on direct marketing and field sales sat “below the line,” where it was viewed as being a direct sales expense. The Internet created a boom market in spending on lead generation activities, and allocating this expenditure is tricky. In many cases, lead generation activities are led by groups that sit next to marketing, but actually report into sales. Is it still advertising?
  4. Content is the new marketing platform. Buyers are voracious consumers of information. For marketers, creating brand awareness, preference and affinity has become about providing the consumer with compelling, useful content. Company and product brands need to have an ongoing narrative with consumers that is true to the brand, and that creates and sustains engagement. Content is the new marketing platform.
  5. The un-counted commercial minutes: Television abounds with examples of marketing expenditures that no longer count as advertising in the traditional sense. On American Idol, Ford hasn’t increased the number of 15-30 second spots it runs on the program. The company has, however, created custom content, with the finalists all participating in a video where they sing, dance and interact with a Ford car. And the winner of the show gets a Ford automobile. These 90-second “spots” do not show up in the ad tracking stats — but you can be certain Ford pays a premium for them.

If you’re tracking advertising industry stats, you’re tracking the wrong thing.

Advertising is dead. Marketing however is alive and well; even as it takes on a myriad of new forms, many of which are not easy to track.

Smart marketers no longer pay attention to “advertising growth rates.” Instead, they’re measuring bottom-line metrics like customer engagement and prospect conversions, and using those numbers to drive their marketing investment.

What’s Next?

Surf's up

For the last 6 years I have led a team that has transformed a declining print-centric business into a fast-growing $200 million digital media, live event and marketing services behemoth, otherwise known as UBM TechWeb. It has been an extraordinary experience and one that I’m immensely proud of. I’ve made the difficult decision that this is the right time for me to leave the company, refresh and evaluate my next venture. I will remain a loyal friend of UBM and retain a vested interest in the continued success of the people and the company. I know that my colleagues will take the strong foundation that we have built to even greater heights. I will be rooting them on as they do.

So what’s next? Well, first I’m going to take some time off and reintroduce myself to my wife and family. Six years of intense work, living on airplanes and out of a suitcase, can make you feel like a stranger in your own home. It’s time to assure myself that my wife and daughter remember what I look like, and for me to remember what it’s like to spend more than one week at a time in one place. The loss of both my father and father in-law in the last year has put a fine point on the value and power of family for me. I’m also going to dust off my surfboard and spend a little time in the water.

After a brief refresh I will be actively exploring my next great adventure. Here are the 6 market dynamics that I feel will shape what I do next:

  1. The Intersection of Paid, Earned & Owned Media: In their Marketing and Advertising Report 2012; Outsell projected that B2B marketers now spend $72 billion annually on their own direct-to-consumer digital marketing. Driving this shift is the focus on customer engagement and the opportunity to earn additional exposure from this engagement. A significant opportunity exists for applications, tools and services that enable marketers to integrate paid, earned & owned media, simplify the process and drive performance.
  2. The Transformation of Live Events Through Social, Local and Mobile Media: In an increasingly fragmented media world, the ultimate scarcity is bringing high demographic people together in one place at one time around common interests. We will see a deep integration of social, local and mobile technologies that will revolutionize live media and extend the live experience before, during and after events.
  3. Digital Media & Marketing: New technologies, tools and applications will continue to accelerate the transformation of the media and marketing industries. Tablets and other mobile devices are still at the early stage of their impact. We’ve only begun to see the potential of video and other visual platforms. The range of marketing automation, data analysis and other analytic tools coming out is staggering. We are at the nascent stages of what will ultimately become a massive industry.
  4. The Return of Branded Content: People are far more interested in what their friends, family, colleagues and trusted members of their social graph are doing, reading, writing and viewing than in “searching” the web. Many web publishers, however, have focused so intently on optimizing for search engines that their sites look like cars at a NASCAR race. This creates an opportunity for a new generation of branded, content-rich sites and applications designed to build and serve ongoing communities, and provide new platforms for marketers.
  5. Application-Based Media: Mobile apps have changed the way we think about content and online engagement. The ability to integrate audio, video, the social layer and other applications to enhance the user experience is incredible, and we are seeing new, innovative applications built every day — including media that is embedded directly into work flow applications. These are shifts that will ultimately change the way we think about media itself.
  6. The Return of Smart Money: In the early days of the web, venture firms introduced the idea of “Smart Money” — which includes access to management experience and other resources with the funding. Today’s lean start up movement has created a renewed demand for early-stage company structures that include access to Smart Money, driving tremendous opportunities for early-stage companies in media, marketing and technology.

There is no lack of opportunity in the market. As I explore these trends, I also hope to find a bit more time to write and discuss the market dynamics that are shaping the future of our industry, and I plan on expanding on some of these trends in future posts.

Let me know your thoughts on these trends and others you see. And drop me line about interesting opportunities you see in the marketplace.

Jay-Z and Me at SXSW

Jay-Z

I just made my first trip to SXSW. I’m not really a conference hound, even though conferences are a huge part of what we (UBM TechWeb) do. There are only 365 days in the year. On most of those days we’re producing an event somewhere, from industry-wide marathons like Interop, Black Hat, or Game Developers Conference to small roundtables on, say, green data centers or IPV6. It’s hard enough for me to keep up with our own big events, much less take the time to sample others.

But I was invited to participate in a panel and decided to spend a few days beforehand at SXSW figuring out the hype to reality ratio. Here’s what I found.

You remember when you studied basic physics in college and you learned that technically bumblebees shouldn’t be able to fly? That’s SXSW. It’s about everything — tech, media, film, music, brand marketing — and nothing in particular. It’s industry facing and consumer facing. It’s a conference, a trade show and spring break all rolled into one.

From a conference and event point of view it makes absolutely no sense. It should not fly, and in some ways it doesn’t. The content is choppy. The attendee experience is nightmarish at times.

But SXSW does fly. It flies because it gathers a huge number of smart, inspiring and entertaining people in one place and time to distribute and connect ideas. That’s always been the power of live media. It will always work, and it’s an ever more valuable thing in a fragmented media world.

Which brings me to Jay-Z, who had a concert on Monday night at Austin City Limits. Most likely that’s why he couldn’t make it to our panel on Who Do You Trust? Vetting in the Age Of Social at 9:30 on Tuesday morning. But the room was chock full of other smart people, some of whom were listening to us with Jay-Z still in their heads.

Jack Halley, a journeyman NBA player and long time teammate of Michael Jordan, famously quipped “Michael and I went off for 57″ while being interviewed after Michael’s record breaking 55 points against the New York Knicks. At SXSW I found out how that feels to be Jack Halley — it feels pretty darn good.

(I’ll share my thoughts on our panel later this week. In the meantime please let me know what you think of SXSW.)

Who Do You Trust? 10 Things to Consider About Vetting in the Age of Social Media

Social Media Platforms

Fifteen minutes after the first Tweet stating that the US military had found and killed Osama Bin Laden, CNN’s Wolf Blitzer was struggling on air. Blitzer could only react to what he (and everyone else) was reading on Twitter. For an excruciating amount of time Blitzer repeatedly explained that they couldn’t verify the reports. At last he confirmed what everyone had known for 20 minutes, that indeed Bin Laden had been killed. Social media has changed how we get our news. Today it’s fair to say that Twitter breaks news and television covers it.

Social media however is just that. It’s social. While news organizations use social media, citizen “journalists” and “reporters” fill the vast majority of Twitter streams and Facebook posts. Is Jon Bon Jovi dead or alive? When did Joe Paterno die? What exactly did Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum say at the latest stop on the Republican presidential primary tour?

Vetting the accuracy of the information on social media is challenging to say the least. Company and personal brands can be enhanced and extended via social media. They can also be destroyed. We will be addressing these topics at our panel discussion at the SXSW Conference: “Vetting in the Age of Social Media. Who Do You Trust?” If you’re at SXSW this year, please join us. In the interim here are 10 things to consider about vetting in the age of social:

  1. Brand Matters. Ironically the rise of social media has driven a renewed interest in branded content. People and brands you can trust and that you rely on for your news and perspective. Regardless of the level of importance of the news, people want to trust their sources.
  2. Know the Difference Between Gossip and News. The water cooler is digital today. Don’t overreact to fun, gossipy information that is passed around on social networks and hold it to the same standards as news.
  3. Beware of False Prophets. In any gold rush there are legions of consultants and advisers that appear, providing expert analysis and advice on the trends shaping the market. Social media is rife with them. They will give you social media advice for a fee about developing trust, creating followers, curating content and generating “likes” and “recommendations”. Some of this advice can be valuable. Much of it is not.
  4. Trust is built over time and erased in a moment in the digital world. The “trust wars” tend to take place in public with commenters taking sides.
  5. Trust has become tiered. Do you trust the author, the brand and transparent relationships to the topic covered? All three need to be aligned and reinforce one another.
  6. Brand to Brandividual. Trust can follow the trusted source and leave the brand behind
  7. The Shift from Search to Social. What you read on the issue is increasingly built on following trusted links from social networks, not SEO based discovery.
  8. Beware Anonymous. Automated and autonomous commenting on articles has been over-gamed to have little meaning.
  9. Community Engagement. Writers have to work as hard at building social communities as they do at creating content. They need to engage the audience throughout the story’s life.
  10. The Role of Video. Video is emerging as the favored trusted source. You can see an interview taking place which is hard to fake as opposed to text which is fungible.

The impact of social media has been profound for journalists, media companies and consumers alike. How to leverage the extraordinary power of social media and at the same time vet the who, what, where, when and why continues to be a challenge however. Let me know your thoughts on vetting in the age of social.