Brands Continue To Lose Control Even When It's Their Own Content
May 15, 2012
Twitter (once again) lit up with social commotion last week when President Obama became the first sitting president to declare support for gay marriage.
(The "50+" circled represents over 50,000 people who retweeted it.)
Everyday people ran to the platform to voice their reactions. The tweets were emotionally charged, from support for to disagreement with the President. But some of the best tweets were (mostly) from regular folks lending their voice to the conversation:
Hash tags were even started, such as #BecauseOfObama or this one, #IfIWasPresident:
I like how TV personality Rutledge Wood showed up looking present and connected by chiming in. You notice he didn't have to "take a side" to be part of this big moment.
Social platforms have given all of us the ability to congregate online, form communities, and have real-time dialogue around historic moments.
But social platforms have also enabled big news stories to be leaked before traditional media reports on it – even when it's a traditional media outlets own exclusive.
About 8 minutes before ABC's announced plans to break into regular programming for a 'Special Report' on the President's personal view of gay marriage, Reuters' Deputy Social Media Editor, Matthew Keys, had been filtering abc.com-type Google searches looking for a leg up on ABC when he noticed a URL slug.
Sure enough, Keys uncovered ABC's "exclusive information" and the tweet above became widely shared on Twitter, before ABC had even aired their breaking news special.
Reuters scooped ABC on their own "exclusive" content.
While the news story was still a bit of a win for ABC (even though most people assumed the President's personal feelings would be as progressive as he ultimately announced,) Reuters scooping ABC should serve as a reminder that the digital and social space has changed how news is breaking and being reported.
These types of stories should also serve as a warning about how the mindset within media organizations' internal infrastructures needs to adapt with the times.
Holding on to big concert announcements, new music, and other apparent "exclusives" until you want to release it might not be what builds brand authority these days. What you think is exclusive content is likely already in the hands of some of the fans. And when you hint around or tease that you have unreleased content, it's becoming habit for fans to then Google, consume, and share content on their time, not yours.
Translation: We no longer control what we think we do.
Fans (pretty much) have the same access to digital content as radio does. Sitting on content today with a "Listen at 5" exclusive mentality might need to be replaced with more of an inclusive thought process that strategically exposes previously unshared content sooner rather than later.
Every tool in our arsenal today is also in the hands of the competition – and the fans. Brands look disconnected from technology when they fumble with their own restricted content and enable other outlets to scoop them – as was the case with ABC and Reuters.
Digital and social platforms offer opportunities to weave our brands into everyday conversation, getting us more in-sync with fans and in the process, building trust. But opportunity can only be gained when an organization leads by an all-embracing awareness of how today's technology works and how the fans (and the competition) are using it.
As Sun Tzu says, "Opportunities multiply as they are seized."
Reach out to me anytime on Twitter @lorilewis.
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