Are Traditional Media Outlets Maximizing Social Media?

In yesterday's post, I told you that I would be at The Charlotte Observer this morning as a participant on a discussion panel entitled Mainstream Media and Social Media: A Collision or an Opportunity?. This video provides a quick summary of what I shared on a critical (paraphrased) question posed by the moderator, Jenifer Daniels: Do traditional media outlets understand how to succeed on the social Web? Do their “Twitter popular” employees understand how to succeed in business? What can the two learn from each other?

My fellow panel members (each of whom is a professional journalist — and I'm not) shared incredible insights in this regard. I answered the question by putting forth the notion of The Opportunity Economy, with the extra twist of the “content consumer” thrown in for good measure. You can either watch the video or read my thoughts below.

I offered three reasons why, based on some conversations I have had with people who work in traditional media, we are not seeing people employed by traditional media outlets more fully embracing social technologies for the benefit of their employers. (Throughout this post, I use the terms “social media,” “new media,” and “technology” pretty much interchangeably.)

  1. Employees see themselves merely as employees. Until those who work at traditional media outlets recognize in large numbers that social media are personal development tools, they will miss opportunities to use them to improve themselves personally. If they don't use social media to improve their own lives, they are not likely to use them for the benefit of their employers.

    When employees from all walks of life begin to see themselves as people who can use technology to create opportunities for themselves first, I believe you will see more of them leverage social media to create opportunities for their employers.

  2. Management does not encourage experimentation. With resources stretched to the max, opportunities to test new social media strategies are put on the back burner in favor of urgent publication deadlines and advertising opportunities.

    When department leaders unleash their employees to try new things, and to fail and not be penalized, everyone will benefit — employees, managers, media outlets and, most importantly, readers, viewers and listeners.

  3. Consumers like too many “bright shiny objects”. Many “content consumers” today see mainstream media as irrelevant. This may be true in specific instances, but I believe that overall, everyone benefits when traditional newspapers, television stations and radio stations produce quality and reliable news reports that are relevant to local communities.

    When consumers look for benefits of quality journalism, separate and apart from the technology that delivers it, I believe they will also find more opportunities to collaborate with traditional media outlets to expand both spheres of influence for the benefit of all.

For me, it all goes back to whether or not individuals (working for themselves or someone else) proactively and aggressively capitalize on the promise of new technologies. If so, the benefits that accrue to the individual will be passed on to the employer. If not, well, no one wins.

I would love to hear feedback from you, especially if you work in traditional media. My ideas are the result of a few conversations with people who do, but they are by no means conclusive or based on enough interviews to say they are anything more than my commentary. This is just how I see things from the outside looking in.

Question: Am I off base? Close? What do you think?

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About Donna Maria Coles Johnson

Donna Maria is an author, podcaster, attorney, and the founder and CEO of the Indie Business Network, providing affordable product liability insurance and mentoring. Donna Maria teaches Makers and Creative Entrepreneurs how to use technology and community to build a profitable, sustainable business.