Does your company wish there was a place where you could experiment with New Media, Marketing, Advertising and Communications?
While attending MediaCamp today in Montreal (as a preamble to PodCamp Montreal), Sylvain Carle (from Praized) suggested that maybe more media companies needed to create a media lab where they could experiment with new content platforms, revenue models and distribution channels. This may sound kind of obvious, but it already exists...
It's called the Internet.
While it may be wise for most brands to have a premeditated strategy and plan before diving head-first into the online channel, there is nothing wrong with trying, tinkering and grappling with a few skunkwork projects online to see what kind of reception and traction you can get. Why not use the channel to experiment and try things... many, small things? You know, that whole "fail fast" model of innovation and development.
Failure to launch.
Most brands fail at the online channel (or think they're failing) because it's not a part of their culture (more on that here: There Will Be Blood). Many of the Journalists at today's conference were pulling out the old, "How do you make money with a Blog?" or "No one is willing to pay me to Blog, and writing is how I make my living" types of sentiments. So, why not experiment and see if those statements really do hold up?
Here's what you can do by making the Internet your Media Lab...
- You can start sharing the content that has, traditionally, lived and died on paper.
- You can open that content up to comments and commentary.
- You can figure out what people like about it, what they don't like and how long they spent with your content (try Google Analytics).
- You can figure out if your content resonates (if it does, people will spread it on their own volition).
- You can ask people to subscribe to your content (and track how many people actually care about what you're doing).
- You can sell ads on your space.
- You can sell sponsorship on your space.
- You can put Google AdWords on your space.
- You can collect data (email addresses, profile information, etc...).
- You can set-up a tip jar and see how much people are willing to pay for your content.
- You can use Creative Commons, and let people distribute your content, so that your ideas can spread.
- You can use the platform to expand your content into other media. If you're writing, why not try audio, video, images, etc...?
- You can engage in the comments and commentary you get as a way to build community and spark new ideas for content.
- You can use your space like a mental gym: work out your content, daily, so that it stays fit, healthy and in shape.
- You can use your space as a Media Lab to push your critical thinking into new directions (more on that here: Blogging Still Matters... Now More Than Ever).
- You may get invited to speak somewhere, meet new people or learn a thing or two (or a thousand) about how people really connect with what you are doing.
... And that's just the beginning.
Once you begin your new Media Lab, you will start to meet new people. If you're truly connecting to them, other things will happen and you will uncover amazing strategic byproducts from your Media Lab actions. These might be PR and Marketing related, they may be new business development opportunities or you may just learn a whole new way to do what you love to do. Worse comes to worst, you will learn - in short order - that this is not for you or that your content doesn't have the audience you once suspected.
... And one more thing...
It's free. Well, that's not true. You will have to pay in terms of time, effort and sweat equity, but the platforms can be free to start off (you may want to switch to a more sophisticated and flexible platform if your idea really takes off). Remember, never before - in the history of civilization - has one individual (yes, we're talking about you) had the ability to have a thought, and be able to publish it - as professional content - in text, audio, video and images instantly (and for free) to the world... and be able to measure the results almost exactly and in near real-time.
What are you waiting for?