Dear Internet, We Love You!
Jonah Peretti, Founder and CEO Buzzfeed wrote an annual memo to his entire team at Buzzfeed. Recode recently published that memo.
We couldn’t stop nodding our heads and smirking after reading what Jonah had to say. Simply put - the year end memo focused on the huge shifts that are happening in the tech and media industries.
A few discussion points really stood out to us; Points about how far we have come, what internet has taught us so far, and learnings and observations which are amusing to say the least.
Content Creation Hangover
Jonah starts by explaining how audiences shifted attention from print and TV media to digital, but the content creation resources seem to be still hung up on age old methods. The remains of traditional media still seem to play a major role on how content is perceived. With every form of media, it is evident to see how we are still clinging to the classic styles.
“Print revenue is decelerating at a rapid pace, cable subscriptions and TV ratings are starting to decrease even for live sports, and traditional media businesses are at various stages of a terrifying decline. Audiences are moving to more innovative, modern platforms created by tech companies in California like Google, Facebook and Snap. The attention has moved, but the content-creation resources mostly haven’t.”
“We’ve seen the same thing in the advertising industry with television ads featuring celebrities, multimillion-dollar ad production budgets, and distribution through expensive TV campaigns, while the internet is still filled with poorly designed ads for teeth whitening, reverse mortgage pitches, and questionable fat-burning supplements”
“In fact, the ad industry’s slowness to shift to digital is at the root of the problems faced by news and entertainment. Social platforms can only optimize the content uploaded to their services, and when there isn't a solid business model for content, the void is filled with fake news, cheap entertainment, and deceptive ads.”
The Tremendous Potential of the Internet
Since the content style on the internet is somewhat still conservative, there is a huge potential yet to be tapped. The future of content is bright. There is a huge room for creativity, new process, new formats, creating new experiences for the users. Buzzfeed’s Tasty is a great example of how the potential of the videos was exploited. It's time that we move away from the traditional media. Jonah continues:
“The global scale of “social” and “mobile” is almost unimaginably vast. Literally billions of people are accessing content on their smartphones, billions use social services, and the content these people are consuming hasn’t yet reached the full potential of the medium. The content and creative ideas that made sense in traditional media are being awkwardly ported to social and mobile.”
“That wealth of creative expression needs to be redeployed to digital networks, where creative people can connect more closely with massive audiences and where it is possible to directly serve more diverse audiences as well as for people to share media with those who matter in their lives.”
The Power of Social Connect
Social media has changed the game of how content is perceived. It's not just information anymore, it's all about making that connect. The feedback for content is real-time as well. Brands are focusing on building stronger relationships with the users, and users are integrating media into their day-to-day conversations with their peers. Since the advent of digital media - we literally use pictures, memes, videos and articles to “talk” to each other.
“The emergence of social media initiated the convergence of content and communication. Content wasn’t just being consumed for informational value; it became a way for people to connect with other people in their lives. This opened up the possibility of building a more intimate connection with audiences. A media company can facilitate deeper connections than ever before if it can make content that the audiences can use to connect with each other.”
This is what we share now to express our feelings.
The ‘Share’ Metric
Peretti points out how ‘sharing’ content is pretty much the most important metric of success. If a user chooses to share your content, it depicts the value of the content and the brand. It shows the connection that the brand has built with the user. It is also the best feedback for any product out there. There are enough talks & studies on how social sharing does help build a loyal audience.
“Sharing is the clearest metric for showing that media is creating a social connection between people. It is why we obsess about “share statements,” or what people say when they share our content. It explains why we carefully study the exchange of value that occurs when sharing happens: What is the value for the person who shares? What is the value for the person who receives?”
He highlights seven epic points about how digital advantages benefits the consumers:
Instant access to fresh content
On-demand access to entire media libraries
Nearly free distribution enabling many free ad-supported services
Global distribution providing access to content from every market
Data about audiences allowing personalization and customization of content experience
A feedback loop between audiences and content creators making media production more dynamic and responsive
Social experiences where people can use content to communicate and connect with the people who matter to them and weave media into their daily lives
Embracing the Internet - Accuracy, Accountability & Transparency
Jonah beautifully concludes - how embracing the internet is the best way to succeed. By embracing it, you provide your consumers a far more satisfying and intelligent experience. The impact is a lot more. Getting to nitty-gritty and tailoring an experience is what it is all about. In the long run the internet always wins.
“The internet is incredibly good at unlocking the true preferences of consumers. Companies that fully embrace the internet are able to serve their customers better, grow faster, and have a bigger impact on the world. This isn't just important for us as a business, it is essential to culture, creative expression and democracy; it will help assure that quality news and entertainment thrive in places where audiences spend their time; and it will help us champion values that should be protected within our company and beyond: Diversity, equality, creative and journalistic freedom, accuracy, accountability, and transparency. “
“As a company, we’ve continually made decisions embracing the internet, both because we love it and because it is the best business strategy. It will take decades for analog print and broadcast to decline, and TV will continue to be very profitable for many years, but in the long run, the internet will win. In the long run, the internet always wins.”
You can follow Jonah Peretti on Twitter here - @peretti