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Where, Exactly, Does New Media Fit?

Posted on | November 7, 2008 | No Comments

That’s gotta be a question that’s nagging at you … and if not you, then at least your marketing and communications leaders. They are, after all, seeking to grease the rails of communication between your organization and your real and/or potential customers. Such greased rails will speed their ability to hear your message and your ability to service their needs.

What is new media? Aren’t we talking about e-mail, YouTube and Facebook?

Yes, and No.

E-mail was a new method of communicating forty years ago, and has, over a few decades, pushed all but glossy inserts, fake credit cards and official communique’s into the digital world. Nearly everyone has e-mail, and those who don’t have it either don’t know what it is or are desparate to have it. The US Postal Service, of course, seeks not to compete with e-mailers, but to ease the way to using their non-electronic services with a whole suite of electronic tools.

In the 1980’s and 90’s digital communities began to spring up, initially germinating around the needs of providing Internet connection (CompuServe, America On Line, GTE, etc.) and then to provide services to those who were on the ‘net with their own access provider (Yahoo!, Geocities, etc.) These communities provided encapsulated communities for communication and discussion, much as local telephone-line BBS’s had been doing since the advent of the Personal Computer.

In 1997 the blogs grew out of the “web log“, becoming the new method of touting your wares. Instead of just detailing, ad infinitum, ad nauseum the details of your products, people learned how to write about their products and their industries using an indirect method that would set their clients at ease and show their expertise without standing on a pitchman’s soapbox or rattling off spec’s and serial numbers.

In the eight years since the Internet investment bubble burst and massive data storage has become relatively affordable, new electronic online communities have sprung up to service the online world: Friendster, Myspace, and most recently Facebook, to name a few. These are entities which blend all the services which came before (except providing Internet access): personal pages for personal data, blog pages, photo pages, video pages, discussion forums and instant messaging platforms.

Finally, with a burst of new energy, these bundled services are breaking apart, providing new smaller bundles of services in smaller, more efficient packages. But, efficient for what? Don’t our computers, our networks scream, compared to just five years ago?

Efficient for the cellphone, for the smartphone.

The global consumer does not have a personal computer; the global consumer has a cellphone. So the new product must cater to the cellphone market – and therefore we have a blizzard of simplified web-based tools: Gmail, Google Docs, Twitter, Plurk, Jaiku, WordPress, LiveJournal, Plaxo and Brightkite – these are all web utilities which are or have side utilities which allow for smartphone use.

New media: video, blogging and audio content belong on the smartphone: the smartphone user is your audience, that’s who is going to consume your content, that’s who is going to use your products. If you haven’t switched to a smartphone (I hadn’t six months ago), you will soon. And, you’d better want to see your company’s message competing for eyeballs along with everyone else’s.


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