Publishing in a Fragmented Online World
Ah, for the days of print gone by—when there was only one distribution mechanism to transmit information to readers—everything seemed so simple. But along came the Internet, and suddenly readers demanded our content via print, our Web sites and e-mail newsletters. Our once-simple content-distribution model suddenly became complicated, and disrupted the business models to which we were accustomed. My friends, we had better get used to it because the fragmentation has only just begun.
Two major technologies have emerged that further complicate how we must connect our brands and content to our readers: social media and mobile devices. More and more consumers and business professionals alike are turning to Twitter, Facebook and other social media services to get their information instead of going directly to individual Web sites or subscribing to e-mail newsletters. Likewise, rather than using desktop or laptop computers, consumers and business professionals are using mobile devices more often than ever before to browse the Web, read e-mail and interact with social media services.
The key question we must ask is, "How can we get our content to our readers however they want to get it?" Does a reader want to get our latest content by visiting our Web site? Do they want to be alerted to new content via e-mail instead? Do they want to browse our site or read our e-mail alerts on a mobile device instead of a computer? Do they want to be alerted to our latest content by following us on Twitter or becoming a fan on Facebook? Do they want to add our RSS feed to their iGoogle or My Yahoo page so they can see our latest headlines there? Do they want to add a widget to their blog that constantly updates their site with our latest headlines? Our job as publishers is to simplify it so that no matter how they want to get to our content, they can do it easily.
Eric Shanfelt is the founding partner of Nearview Media, a consulting firm that helps publishers with their digital revenue, audience and platform development. Eric is a 25-year digital media veteran and has been the Chief Digital Officer for several large publishing companies. You can reach Eric at firstname.lastname@example.org.