THINK: The Four Ideas That Matter in Digital Media This Week
Your 60-second read for 10/11: Snapchat’s $25B IPO; The Simpson’s embrace digital innovation; having faith in Facebook; and more. This is what matters this week in digital media.
1/ Snap Inc.’s $25 billion IPO is more than an IPO.
Snapchat’s parent company is reportedly planning an IPO in March at a valuation of $25 billion. That’s no small potatoes: it’s 10x the New York Times, and one-tenth AT&T. You can go on about the 150 million+ daily active users, or that they are mostly millennials, or that they just released Spectacles. But this is the real reason this matters: Snapchat is one of the first companies who recognizes that the future of digital interpersonal communications is image-based. We are not happy, we are smiley-face. This is why the photos disappear, because Snapchat is conversation, and that doesn’t need to be recorded. This is also why Snapchat and Facebook, while being lumped together as “social,” are in fact oh-so-different, and why an all-in-one social media strategy is usually not fruitful. Communication: more like Picasso, less like Hemingway. More from The Atlantic.
2/The Simpson’s push creative boundaries, even in middle age.
Bart Simpson is 37 years old, though he still looks ten to me. 600 episodes later, his antics still seem surprisingly fresh. How? By embracing modern society. Lisa comments on 21st century politics, Marge texts Homer on her iPhone. It might all sound silly, but there’s an important point here - you are never too old to be cutting edge. Which is why The Simpson’s upcoming Treehouse of Horrors is embracing virtual reality. Friends and colleagues of mine lament they are “too old,” or how they don’t understand millennials (who are just people, BTW). I am a proud Gen X-er, and remember a world before the WWW. But everything new that comes along - I embrace it. Just like Bart Simpson. Be curious. Another shining example of this? Martha Raddatz. Insanely smart and curious (and killing it as a debate moderator). Age is timeless, if you want it to be. More from Deadline.
3/Have media companies put too much faith in Facebook?
Mom always taught us, never put all your eggs in one basket. So what happens when Facebook becomes the top traffic source for media companies, who have no control over Facebook? There’s no doubt the FB is a top source of news for many of us, even if that skews our worldview. Vox reported last year that 40% of its referrals come from it. Looking back, I think Facebook understood that if it could get scale first, it could do everything else it wanted to do, because it’s difficult to turn down millions of monetizable views. Just ask BuzzFeed. But this lack of control also means when Facebook makes an algorithm change, publishers can suffer, in readers, impressions - and revenue. This is not sustainable, and media companies must figure out how to diversify. Search, anyone? More from Digiday.
4/Digital media allows people to comment. And some of that will be negative.
The old, golden rule: marketers want nothing negative associated with their brand. But these days, people find ways - even if you moderate the ability to post on your Facebook page, you will never stop negativity. Just ask any restaurant on Yelp. So the question becomes, are negative comments “bad”? Surely, offensive or threatening statements are never welcome, but if someone has a bad experience with your brand, wouldn’t you want to know about it? There’s a newer challenge of public airing of grievances (vs. an email) but I’ll tell you this: constructive criticism makes you better, makes you see things you are sometimes blind to yourself, whether you are a brand or a person. So, no negative comments is not the goal; receiving and responding to negative comments is. Even for this column, which I've been lucky to receive a few positive comments, I’ll also get the occasional negative one. This is fine by me, if they are constructive - I'm always looking for how to improve. So if you are thinking of leaving a negative comment somewhere, or even here, make it a constructive one, otherwise you are just lazy.
Todd: marketing at CakeWorks Video and digital strategy at Hastings Studios. Sign up for CakeWorks’ Worth Reading Video News, the once-a-week must read video newsletter!