Is Connecting Customers through Content the Holy Grail of Digital Transformation ?

09.03.21 08:25 AM By Sathya

Content is King. That’s what we have been asked to believe in. Quality matters. Or does it? If better was enough, then why are Media companies facing total disruption. What is really the Holy Grail of Digital Transformation for Media companies ?

Our Research at WiselyWise across Digital Trends has shown that the answers truly are all around us. Look closely at successful Media companies, Buzzfeed, Huffington Post, The Wirecutter, Refinery 29 – and Content Giants – Facebook, Twitter, Google. They have focussed on Content as the Product, rather provided Social Connections for their Readers. Giving rise to newer concepts around Brand Stories, Service Journalism, Power Blogging, Peer Publishing, leading to massive Revenue Streams moving far away from traditional advertising,subscriptions, Paywalls, Metering.

Listen to Bharat Anand’s excellent Podcast How Focusing on Content Leads the Media Astray  . He’s a professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School, and he’s the author of The Content Trap, a strategist’s guide to digital change. As per Prof Anand, Content is a trap. He says success for the best companies does not come from making the best content, it comes from recognizing how content can connect customers.

In his book he provides the example of Schibsted, an Oslo-headquartered media company in Europe. They’ve been around for about 170 years, and have become known as one of the media organizations in the western world, which have managed to make the transition to online pretty successfully. How they covered the volcanic ash crisis is a nice example of their approach to covering news, and how it’s different.

The question for Newsrooms would be, How do you help Readers help each other ?

So imagine the world of possibilities News organizations could create. You automatically create Engagement, which is the true currency of the Social World powered by Digital technologies. The Trust obtained through genuine engagement would power success in Service-oriented Journalism. It will motivate readers to purchase through the news sites creating fantastic E-commerce revenue streams. You can work with Brands and create what we at WiselyWise call as “Brand Stories”. Stories which educate your readers, make them look more intelligent, allows them to make wiser choices and ultimately lead better lives.

The Content Trap provides the notion of Complements. When one looks at Internet companies like Twitter or Tencent, the idea is content is a complement to their core business, which increases the value of their core business. It’s not their core business fundamentally. As the podcast quotes “They are starting by connecting people in different sorts of ways and to different degrees, and then content is sort of an important add-on. Again, ultimately, they are a company that connects. And increasingly over time, they’ve gotten into the content space”. What are Complements? Quoting from the podcast “A complement is any product or service where the availability of that complement increases value for your whole product. To put it another way, the cheaper is the complement, the greater the demand for your product. Now, the traditional examples were things like hardware and software, razors and razor blades, printers and cartridges, which we’re familiar with.” The Key is to find out the Digital Complements for your business.

The Content Trap is to avoid mimicking others and create your own identity. Which also means you need to figure out the Connections your readers are making. Media organizations need to focus on their Readers, not on their platform or their Content. Efforts should be to understand how to Socially Connect their Readers, not about designing the best Content platform,website or graphics. Focus on the Demand Side, not Supply side. It boils down to identifying your DNA, who your Readers are, what they like about you, their reading habits, how they interact with you and how you can translate this to an Online world. That’s where the Pot of Gold lies. Some of the text above is attributed to the HBR Ideacast .