Imagine Franz Kafka’s Metamorphosis, except for instead of a human becoming a giant bug, businesses are metamorphosed online into media companies. The latter has been a growing trend lately and this article is going to explore some potential reasons why the approach has emerged, what it means by brands becoming media companies, and whether this mutation is actually a good idea that should be employed by more businesses.
Why brands are acting as quasi-media companies
In the competitive and ever-evolving digital business landscape, there is a persistent pressure for companies to try new methods that will create avenues of potential web-traffic to their products or services. This could be said to be the main overarching reasoning behind businesses of every kind adopting the role of a media company. However, if this is the chief reason behind the growing utilisation of different media, then myriad sub-categories of reasons also exist. Some of these, to name but a few, are, businesses wanting to reach a wider audience, businesses seeking alternatives to paid advertising, customers’ high expectations, and fierce competition.
Reaching a wider audience
By increasing the visibility of certain company-owned and produced information such as by paid advertising, blogs, videos, and even social media, this inevitably opens up the possibility of relaying certain messages to a wider range of recipients, as well as potentially bolstering the exposure of the brand. However, it is important to remember that the results of certain media output always depend on having a defined strategy and will be entirely ineffective if one is not firmly in place. Plastering useless information through different media on many different channels will surely backfire, but a wider audience can be reached through effective targeting, and by creating media that is relevant. It is better to have an engaged, relevant audience than a huge audience that does not care. This is a concern for all online businesses, that want to utilise the best media formats for their audiences.
Seeking alternatives to paid advertising
Not every business has the money to put into paid advertising, so it is no surprise that content marketing through media has become the new lingua franca for all types of businesses. However, the cost of paid advertising may be more or less than the resource that is required to create media, especially consistently, so this should be determined by the business as part of its strategy. Either way, it seems that businesses are seeking alternatives to paid advertising to get certain messages across.
Higher customer expectations
A further reason that could be pushing companies to produce media is high customer expectations. Depending on research carried out by each business, it is hard to assume what each audience wants. From conducting business-specific research, audience expectations might include: strong customer service; to be amused/entertained; to be informed; to be part of a community or a discussion, to name but a few potentialities. As a further example, many companies have already realised the value of personalising content which suggests that the reception of impersonal or irrelevant content impacts the business that creates it. Now that most people are digitally engaged, we can deduce that these people are becoming more discerning as they become more informed. Customers may prefer a certain type of media over others, too, forcing businesses to consider what works best. Companies may be waking up to the fact that the media that they currently employ may not actually be the most effective.
As other businesses within a wider industry experiment with media, others within that industry might want to follow suit and create their own. Moreover, as many businesses operate online, it makes it significantly easier for competitor businesses to not only see what other businesses are doing, but imitate their strategies. The digital world by nature underscores the successful and unsuccessful activities of the competition, insights that might seem distressing but are incredibly valuable.
These reasons show that companies are leaning towards content marketing through editorial/media as a part of a wider effort. But what does it mean by becoming a media company?
What it means by becoming a ‘media company’
The term ‘media company’ is in itself a broad definition, and if we consider that companies are now distributing a broad range of media, it becomes even more complex. It is probably safer to define businesses that extend their media activities beyond the usual remit as quasi-media companies rather than media companies themselves, but let’s delve into this a bit more.
Traditional media publications have mostly moved their efforts online due to the dwindling sales of print products, and in the advent of this, it seems that completely disparate businesses are now considering whether they can begin to share different forms of content. But we all know that the internet allows for much more than simply displacing textual content from print to online, and creative media options include video, gifs, memes, podcasts and other audio, and plenty more. So, it is no surprise that businesses want to get involved by creating their very own multi-media content.
But, it is not just creating certain forms of media that aligns with the definition of a media company. Businesses are not just sharing corporate updates but are also getting involved in wider industry discussion particularly by sharing news, updates, and even covering trends. The media produced therefore becomes not only about the business as a singular entity, but in some cases a source for information on the sector.
Conversely, media might be used not as a knowledge-hub for an industry but for collaborations, entertainment, and more. Whatever the reasons might be, we can see that the one thing the trend has in common is connectedness: a reflection of the digital world itself. This can be seen in many examples, such as a business displaying itself as part of an industry, which can then be seen as a connected part of a bigger whole, or when a business forms a partnership with a related business for media purposes, which then might show connection through common business or customer interests.
One example of a company using media as part of a partnership is Red Bull, which produces videos of extreme sports. Red Bull has collaborated with GoPro cameras to create videos that showcase thrilling and sometimes dangerous high-energy activities that might appeal to its audience, deviating from the brand to fit with wider potential interests.
An example of a successful company blog would be by Rei, an outdoor clothing company. The blog is replete with information that might be of interest to its audience who love the great outdoors, such as climbing, hiking, and camping. Each blog post even has a ‘rate this story’ option, showcasing the company’s commitment to strong editorial content. The content extends far beyond the company itself, even coming across as an online magazine, but still remains completely relevant.
It is unclear exactly when this started to happen, but businesses have been utilising media in a more singular corporate way for a long time, such as through social media and company blogs. It would probably be safe to assume that the wider discussion and opportunity revealed by social media channels might have also contributed to the decision of businesses to try out varying media formats.
The ways in which they do this
Companies can produce and host media in all kinds of ways, such as social media, company blogs, videos, and podcasts. The opportunities for creative media are numerous.
Is producing media a good idea for businesses?
All online businesses should create some form of media, even if it is simply content on a social media channel. However, if a business is considering extending its media efforts such as a regular blog, here are some of the benefits and disadvantages of producing media content:
- alternative to paid social advertising (in some cases/in relation to the cost of content creation)
- establishes a knowledge base
- furthers customer interaction
- can help to stay up-to-date with wider trends
- a proliferation of pointless content
- wasted resource
- if done unprofessionally can tarnish the whole business
- can stray off course and be irrelevant
- can create lots more work that needs to be consistently monitored and updated
By considering these points, you will be able to tell whether or not your business should transform its media efforts or keep them simplified.
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Rosie is a qualified Journalist, NCTJ certified, and is currently an MSt student in Literature and Arts at Oxford University. Having worked in editing, communications, and brand strategy in agencies in Seoul and London, she is passionate about producing intelligent writing with practical and creative value. Previously a Content Editor and Writer at the UK Domain.Read full profile