In an unstable market where technology makes the choice of information sources infinite, a media brand must build strong community bonds to be a platform of choice, says Justine Cullinan.
In the landscape of the media business two things have changed. Firstly, technology has made what media organisations do more accessible to audiences. This has meant that a plethora of information sources can be accessed to find out what’s going on at the touch of a button as opposed to waiting for the 7pm news broadcast or getting the morning paper. In short, there is more competition, more bites out of the same apple pie. It has also empowered consumers of media to become authors of media. This adds a whole layer of tweeters, Facebookers, instagrammers, bloggers and self-proclaimed experts to the competition. Secondly, the media business has embraced the theory and practice of brand management.
Looking at the first shift, digital media has transformed the way in which we consume, access and share information. It’s true that anyone can be the author of information. Whether the information is credible and true or not, is merely a matter of loyalty. The platforms and people we follow online are the same as the brands we consume, we trust them, we choose to believe that what they say is true and they offer us a benefit.
Looking at the second shift, the fact that I can say ‘media brand’ and people know what I’m talking about, is the result of media companies embracing the theory of brand management. As Keller would say, “brand equity is the power of the brand in the mind of the consumer”. The value we attribute to brands is perceived value, not what they actually measurably deliver. That’s the difference between charging what something is practically worth and charging what people are willing to pay. Brand marketing is about that difference and media owners are making use of that.
But with the increased competition and the trend towards brand management in the media business, what should a media organisation do to sustain and grow its customer base?
The answer to that is the proverbial marketing gold at the end of the rainbow – a strong, loyal community of brand ambassadors who stick up for your brand when you don’t have the time, money or opportunity to tell them how great it is. To add some diamonds to that gold for media brands, there is a unique advantage. The emotional nature of communicating information brings the customer base closer to the brand. Consuming information is a process of being educated and entertained and that’s a very personal experience.
So a media brand can community-build better than any consumer or service brand will ever be able to do. Coca-Cola will be the same thing for 100 more years, but information will change every day, so a media brand can be the steadfast thing behind that changing landscape, and make people feel warm sand safe with each new sunrise.
By the way a community is not a social media platform and a constant hunt for likes. A community is a real group of consumers who you cannot control. They are people who will be honest, get involved in co-creation, shout about your brand and feel emotively connected to it such that they feel it belongs to them.
If you want to stay in the media business and make that media brand boom, you need to generate a community of people who want to organise themselves around your brand… by choice.
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