As the media landscape continues to change, one of the more interesting trends is traditional media’s use of social media. There was a time, not that long ago, when a reader’s only option to be heard was getting a letter to the editor published. And that was not easy.
The web, of course, brought comments. And virtually every online medium now invites readers to weigh in. Twitter’s arrival on the scene distributed those comments beyond the confines of a destination website. And more recently sophisticated comment platforms like LiveFyre help media properties use original content not only to stimulate and spread online chatter, but to identify what kind of content will generate the most conversation to begin with.
Still this is only the beginning. As more and more media properties realize they’re in the business of connecting readers to each other as well as to content – the same holds true for brands, by the way – we’ll see the creation of more social networks like the one Boston’s WBUR launched today: Healthcare Savvy.
Instead of simply reporting on health care, the NPR station has started a collaborative site that invites listeners to share and learn from each other how to purchase and evaluate health care offerings.
This is smart on three points.
It attracts more listeners
Smart brands everywhere now know that they have to create value. This is a perfect example of a media property building something that has genuine utility. Potentially it could become a new reason to engage with WBUR. And if the station becomes part of your health care decision making, it might also become your go-to source of news on the topic.
It’s a source of content and news for WBUR
Health care will continue to be a lead story for years to come, especially as baby boomers age and government subsidized programs come under increasing pressure. The shared content, comments and dialog regarding the costs, services, fears and frustrations that all patients face will provide WBUR with essential content and insight for its own news coverage of this topic.
It demonstrates social responsibility that is good for business
Simon Mainwaring writes about brands doing good in his book We First. Harvard B-School Professor Michael E. Porter makes the same point in a recent Harvard Business Review piece. Addressing societal issues is integral to profit maximization, not external to it. Granted NPR stations don’t generate profits. But they do raise money. The idea that doing something good for the public — beyond programming — should come back and benefit the bottom line. Aren’t you more likely to donate, or donate even more, if your public radio station creates a service that saves you money on health care?
We’re seeing collaboration, the inclusion of readers and customers, and platforms that encourage it to a greater and greater extent. But the fact is, we’re still only learning how to do this so it benefits all of us.
Got any other examples? Please share.