Social media & traditional media: a battle for audience
A few years back, one would get into the office and talk about a TV programme from last night. You’d chat about a talk show host and the latest song, or having spotted the Audi or Heineken billboard on a specific highway. Traditional media ruled by relevance, content, circulation and ultimately, audience share.
Today, you are more likely to get an update on trending topics on Twitter/Facebook or ground breaking news via one of these platforms prior to watching the late night news or reading the afternoon print edition of a newspaper or listening to radio news on the hour.
It has become easy to recognise these social tools as part of the media marketing mix, from a marketer’s perspective. But more scary is that new/social media has managed to get free air, as most shows now incorporate, or rather extend, their audience to these mediums for additional information and in the process, build stronger affiliations with their fans beyond the first media contact point, in this case TV, radio, outdoor or print.
Watching anything on TV these days can easily result in a trending topic, but of major concern to me is that during music shows, for example, the audience is prompted to hash tag # a specific topic that leads to a greater audience than those that will be watching that specific programme in real time.
More worrying is that even if one doesn’t have a PVR, you can easily access any clip of a music video using YouTube and immediately tweet or post your feedback # and it becomes part of the trend. This has a potential to create an audience shift into new media, at the expense of traditional media houses and further strengthen advertiser bargaining power against traditional media house in the future.
So, taking this into consideration, traditional media houses need to start asking some questions.
- To what extent does new/social media have an impact on the long term strategic focus for traditional media houses?
- Are traditional media houses playing a role in diminishing their value and creating an audience shift phenomenon?
- Are traditional media houses seeking to find relevance to the extent that they have directly or indirectly become an ally in the process producing content that drives traffic to their future competitors?
- Are those that form part of the strategic team in traditional media houses aware that social media status as a secondary platform has the ability to convert into a primary media platform of preference?
- With diminishing newsroom expertise, and reliance on new media for content, what will be traditional media future currency be, considering readily available independently produced content?
- How best to monetise content produced by traditional media houses in these new platforms?
The battle to take pole position is evolving at the speed of light. Whilst traditional media is experiencing challenges in attracting future audiences, social media started with the same audience that traditional media disregarded and despite this, they failed to create relevance even with their current audience.
It’s unfortunate that traditional media has failed to find content that their future audience could easily identify with beyond the music shows, matric results and the career sections. While circulation and audience ratings are diminishing for traditional media houses, the opposite is an hourly occurrence for new and social media. Traditional media houses are cutting costs of content production and staff, and social media has now become a source for traditional media looking for content.
Apps developers and content producers are all creating their communities in these new platforms. Even though this might differ with each type of traditional media, for print the following sections are no longer relevant to attracting new audiences: the food section, the car section, the property section, the classified section and it won’t be long until the business section and the front page have their turn too.
My only hope is that retail business builds online and new media communities at a slower pace than traditional media houses; if not they will no longer be of value in the traditional media houses’ current business models.
One thing remains clear though, the battle for audience and content is evolving and the odds, unfortunately, are in favour of new media.