How ecommerce Is Blazing a Trail on the Social Web for Publishers

This piece from Theresia Gouw Ranzetta is the eighth in a series of 10 posts about the future of the media industry contained in a report titled: Rebooting Media: The Digital Publishing Revolution for a Fully Social Web.

Q:  How does the rise of Facebook change the relationship between media and its audience?

Facebook becomes the jumping off point for many browsers who count on their friends to curate interesting media for them. How news gets “found” becomes less about searching Google news, and more about checking your Facebook newsfeed.

 

Q: What’s changed fundamentally about media with the rise of the social Web, and what do publishers need to do to adapt?

Publishers need to understand the “start” point for their digital users. It used to be a portal, so you cut a deal with one of them. Then, it was a search box, so you SEO-optimized your content. Now, it is a social media platform (Facebook or Twitter), and publishers need to understand how to optimize their content for maximum social sharing and social media amplifications. Don’t get me wrong: in each phase, it has always been about great content. But that is just the necessary first building block. Then you need to figure out the distribution to get maximum audience engagement.

 

Q: We’ve gone from SEO (Search Engine Optimization) to SMO (Social Media Optimization), so how will search change as the Web becomes more social?

Reference or informational search will remain relatively unchanged (for example, “What is the capital of Iowa?”). But “search,” where you are looking for guidance or information that has a subjective or has a taste aspect to it, will be completely transformed by social. Instead of typing in “Best sushi restaurant in Palo Alto,” you will ask your friends, or go to a site with a like-minded social groups (foodies, vegans, etc.).

I think we are still in the early days of SMO. Many large publishers have not yet even thought about this, nor are they aware that they should be. As with SEO, they will need to upgrade their content management / publishing systems and processes. Many will turn to start ups, like Wetpaint, to help with this.

But SMO can be even more. Unlike in the search world, where a supposed Chinese wall existed between SEO and SEM, leading platforms can now encourage their advertisers to also invest in SMO as well. So a very savvy company can leverage and get synergies from their investments and learnings from SMO + SMM (Social Media Marketing) in a collaborative way.

As with the early days of the portal and search platform eras, the ecommerce players were the first to experiment, invest and learn about the power of the new platforms to get broader distribution / audience. This is understandable, given that their business models more easily lend themselves to direct data gathering and learning for marketing spend. Once again, in social, I see the ecommerce players blazing a trail for publishers: the GroupOns, Zyngas, ModCloths, and Birchboxes of the world are good places to start.

In parallel to social, I think we are also seeing a platform shift – from PCs to mobile Internet devices. So, clearly the rise of iOS and Android are important platforms for publishers to understand and adapt to, both in terms of the technology and the distribution nuances.

 

Q:  How do you build a brand in publishing when, with greater frequency, media is distributed through social channels?

You need to learn how to build your brand following on social media and realize that, no matter how strong your brand is in other channels, this is a whole other effort. It is not just an add-on and thinking of how to get “Likes.” The “packaging” of your content needs to be social media optimized for sharing and tie to your social media presence on your Facebook page and Twitter. It is an interconnected ecosystem that cannot be thought of as separate pieces.

 

Q: What are the critical success factors in publishing as we look to 2020; and who will be the winners?

Understand that we are in a new era. Social media distribution, branding and user-driven pull – not your push distribution – will win. Also, understand how your mobile approach is intertwined with what you need to do. The winners today will be the companies that have created these new social and mobile platforms (Facebook, Twitter, Apple iOS and Google Android), as well as the market leaders who have successfully built the first leading companies on top of these platforms (Zynga, Groupon etc.). As for the winners in 2020: I’m in the business of funding start up innovation, so I would say it’s the companies that may not even yet be formed – but they will be, in the next year or two.

 

Theresia Gouw Ranzetta joined Accel Partners in 1999. She is an investment Partner in Accel’s Palo Alto & New York offices and focuses on companies in the social commerce, vertical media, consumer mobile applications and privacy/security markets.

To download the complete report, please click here:  Rebooting Media: The Digital Publishing Revolution for a Fully Social Web

Introducing Rebooting Media: The Digital Publishing Revolution for a Fully Social Web

This is the first in a series of 10 posts about the future of the media industry contained in a report titled:  Rebooting Media: The Digital Publishing Revolution for a Fully Social Web.


As Don Graham, Chairman and CEO of The Washington Post Company, recently remarked on-stage at a conference of leading CEO’s, the media industry as we have known it for the last 100 years is collapsing. The basic structure of our industry – content creation, packaging, distribution, and monetization – have shifted so substantially that the rug has literally been pulled out from underneath media’s business model.

A new model must be created – and the DNA of the medium itself has been irreversibly altered so that it is now innately social.

And yet, in the midst of this upheaval, I’ve found that even the brightest and most well informed strategies are able to tap only part of media’s new nature and capture just a slice of the industry’s remaking.

At a time like this, to get a complete picture of the territory ahead, there is nothing wiser than integrating perspective from the best and brightest people in the publishing world.  And, over the course of the last several years, I’ve been immensely grateful for those leaders’ intelligence and vision.

So, I thought it was only fitting to help create the ultimate social network – one that will enable our industry to share the smartest ideas as it remakes digital media.

That’s what this compendium is all about.

Rebooting Media: The Digital Publishing Revolution for a Fully Social Web brings together eight of the most thoughtful influencers and offers their most cogent assessment of the new online relationship-building that is helping to connect people in absolutely unprecedented ways.

Together, these eight contributors reinforce three dominant themes:

Building a media brand on the new social Web means that publishers have to meet consumers where, when and how they want. It’s all about user-driven pull, and publishers need to offer experiences and establish relationships that may not be on their own terms.

Facebook is a transformative platform driving new personalization and connectivity across the upstart social Web. We are still waiting to see all of what Facebook ultimately becomes, but we know it represents a once-in-a-generation paradigm shift.

Any way you look at it, search (as we know it) is declining. The open sharing of social networks, and the power of social endorsement, are seriously altering what consumers look for on the Web, and how we’re engaging with content. The search algorithm has lost out – big time – to the will of the audience.

But the most powerful insights are in the essays that follow from each of our eight contributors.

Jeff Berman (@bermanjeff), General Manager of Digital Media for the NFL and Buddy Media board member, talks about how Facebook is eclipsing search.

Greg Clayman (@Clayman), Publisher of The Daily, explains why Facebook is taking sharing to a whole new level.

Jason Hirschhorn (@JasonHirschhorn), Curator of Media ReDEFined, considers the element of surprise in social media.

Lewis DVorkin (@lewisdvorkin), Chief Product Officer at Forbes Media, discusses how he’s tearing down the walls that traditional media built.

Anthony Soohoo (@anthonysoohoo), Co-Founder & CEO of Rumpus and former SVP & GM of Entertainment at CBS Interactive, focuses on the way that the people-powered Web is changing innovation.

Wenda Harris Millard, President of Media Link LLC, advances the notion of a new personal recommendation engine on today’s Web.

Erik Flannigan (@butterking), EVP of Digital Media at MTV Networks Entertainment, shows how to build great relationships with social media fan bases.

Theresia Gouw Ranzetta (@tgr), a Partner at Accel Partners, zeroes in on the way that ecommerce is blazing a trail for social Web publishers.

I have already learned a lot from each of these people and their pieces, and I hope you do, too – not only to build your own ideas, but to help our industry move forward. To that end, I invite further conversation with me, and with our contributors.

The digital dialogue is so essential as we all work to re- invent publishing for 21st century audiences. 

 

To download the complete report, please click here:  Rebooting Media: The Digital Publishing Revolution for a Fully Social Web