Growing up so fast.
…for me, anyway. Many folks have been sounding the long, slow death march of the printed page for a long while now. Certainly with the demise of the Rocky Mountain News (part of the favorite Sunday morning ritual in this house), and the troubles of many other papers around the country, it is more and more clear the country and society has moved on. Jeffrey Cole of the USC Center for the Digital Future believes this - I saw him present at the Colorado Spring iMedia Conference in June - and they think all but perhaps five will be gone within 3-5 years.
I’m not sure I believed it. I thought there might always be a place for the paper…on Sundays mornings, sifting through the deals, the ads, the comics…looking through the sports to see if my Chiefs would be on TV. But after tonight, I don’t think so. Tonight we had some of the more violent storms hit the Denver area that I’ve ever experienced…and I’m from Kansas so you know I’ve seen some doozies. But it looked like a hurricane out there…like I was on my front porch, standing next to Niagra Falls. Crazy. Our satellite went out due to the rain, so we were out our primary source of information - and I was legitimately concern I wouldn’t hear the train roar of a tornado over the deluge. So I get on Twitter, as well as weather.com and weatherunderground.com (?) to track the progress of the storm as it moved southeast across the metro area and right toward where we live. On Twitter was @MistyMontano, working the desk for cbs4denver.com as well as @zsazsa, tweeting away, letting me know where the storm was, how serious it was going to be, etc. After the storm, after some back and forth over said tornado concerns with @mistymontano and things had calmed down…@denverpost finally tweets in with the message “strong, fast thunderstorm hits metro area.” This is after the storm had passed, after #Denver was a trending topic on Twitter, after I had learned everything I needed to know to keep my family safe (as well as geek out a little bit over the power of mother nature). After the story was over.
And thats where we are today, isn’t it? Its not enough to tell people what happened after it happened. People want to know, and will expect to know will increasing frequency, what happened, while its happening. People want to hear from each other - from real people, what they are experiencing, how much hail are they getting, etc. People want to share what they’re seeing as well. Reading about something that already happened, from a singular, source is much, much less interesting.
Reminds me in a sense when I worked at a Satellite TV outfit, and all the talk was “on demand - we gotta have one demand.” And now, everyone has more instant options for entertainment that they can use. So the opportunity is there for newspapers to adapt and get more in the real time news, but its not in their DNA. It is however, in news stations DNA - which is why I think they’re more likely to make the changes necessary to stay successful in the social web. They’ve understood real time and capturing audience reaction better than their printed colleagues ever could. And this is the heart at why I think Prof. Cole is right. The world doesn’t need/want the printed page anymore.
Based on many of the conversations I’ve heard from folks at the iMedia Brand Summit at the unbelievably gorgeous Broadmoor Hotel in Colorado Springs (yes Virgina, there IS a difference between 4 and 5 stars) - most brands are in the beginning stages of plotting out a social media strategy for the whole organization. The very smart folks here may understand - because of their exposure to the space - why the brand
needs to must get involved in social media - but inevitabely there are going to be those folks in the org that still view the social web as those “geeks in the basement.”
To illustrate why, let’s talk about Macbeth. In the later half of the play, Macbeth, feeling awfully nervous about his ill-gotten position as King of Scotland, visits the three witches again for reassurance. Along with the tip he should stay very clear of Macduff, they tell him he will “…never vanquish’d be until Great Birnam Wood to high Dunsinane Hill shall come against him..”
Macbeth is giddy with the news. How absurd! A whole forrest to rise up and come against him? Surely not. He takes fantastic comfort in this and continues down the road of a tyrant, head swelled with his power and his seeming invulnerability. But we all know what happens don’t we? The approaching army, to hide their numbers, cut down pieces of Birnam Wood and carry it with them to hide their numbers…thus fulfilling the witches prophecy. And the chill Macbeth feels when he sees this is paltable. Great Birnam Wood…on its way to the gates of Dunsinane.
As Macbeth, standing smug and safe behind his walls viewed the great forrest - so did brands and media producers view consumers. Why, consumers where there to consume as much entertainment, media, products, speeches, content as the brands could throw at them, right? For the most part, for many, many years, this was true. Not anymore. The social web and the global, massive collaboration tools that come with it have empowered consumers in a way we’ve never seen. They are writing, sharing, commenting about, and having real impact on brands in an unprecidented way. They have literally made trees walk…and whether we like it or not, they are already past the castle gates. They are climbing the walls, they are digging under the tower, they are coming up the stars. Brand must go an meet them, welcome to them, listen to them, understand. Its an opportunity for a new relationship - one brands must take very seriously if they want to stay relevant.
Macbeth and the Social Web.
Late April snow.