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The Future of Marketing Starts with Publishing Part 1

I recently called for businesses to broaden their perspective of Social Media from an experimental stage of acting and reacting, to one of learning and leading through intelligence, participation, and also publishing. Creating social profiles and broadcasting tweets and status updates is elementary, whereas creating a meaningful presence through the development and dissemination of remarkable content is judicious.

What lies ahead is an inflection point in the maturation of social media, publishing, marketing and communications. And, it all begins with the realization and the corresponding actions that businesses must become media in order to earn greater relevance and ultimately thought leadership within their respective markets.

Every Company is a Media Company: EC=MC

Good friend Tom Foremski is leading a powerful movement to rally companies towards a new media (r)evolution. As he has so astutely observed, every company is a media company or EC=MC:

Every company is a media company because every company publishes to its customers, its staff, its neighbors, its communities. It doesn’t matter if a company makes diapers or steel girders, it must also be a media company and know how to use all the media technologies at its disposal.

While this has always been true to some extent, it is even more important today, because our media technologies have become so much more powerful.

It is no longer a one-way broadcast medium, everyone now has access to an online printing press that can potentially reach tens of millions of people.

Indeed, the future of marketing starts with publishing, and as such, brands must contribute to the evolution of social media in order to truly socialize media and galvanize communities to create more informed and active markets.

While traditional mass marketing doesn’t vanish, the customary intermediaries whom we relied upon to broadly circulate our messages and intentions are now only part of the media cycle. With the proliferation of social networks and the channels they’ve constructed between people, social graphs are forming dedicated audiences willfully connected through context and interest.

Businesses can now weave social graphs of their own through the creation of social presences within the communities where customers, prospects and those who influence them, are actively sharing, consuming, and seeking relevant content and information. While many companies are just now realizing the immediate benefits of social participation and engagement, the rewards are far richer than the accumulation of followers or fans.

Time and attention are precious commodities and therefore require thoughtful commentary, involvement, contribution, and programming to spark actions and reactions and concurrently earn two-way alliances that ultimately form the relationships businesses need to cultivate communities and also inspire advocacy.

Social Objects are Conversational Catalysts

In Web 1.0, it was said that content was king. In social media, one could argue that context is now king, supported by a royal court of content producers and connectors united by a common desire to share information with purpose and utility.

In social media, content and context are packaged as social objects and they serve as the catalysts for conversation, intelligence, and sharing, and hopefully, word of mouth.

Essentially, social objects are the thoughtful blog posts we publish, the relevant updates we Tweet, the helpful tips we leave for others when they check-in, the useful videos we broadcast, the telling pictures we post, the constructive comments we voice, as well as every other pertinent message we syndicate throughout the statusphere.

Newton’s third law of motion states that every action has a reaction equal in magnitude and opposite in direction.

With every social object we introduce, we merit an entitled response, which either validates or discredits the strategy and work that introduced and propelled our content online. The cause and effect of our objective and outcome are dictated by our mission and purpose. Social objects represent the voice, personality, and design of brands and also reflect the culture and virtues we hope to embody and convey. As a result, social objects can trigger the creation and proliferation of earned media, user-generated content that fortifies and spreads our story to each respective social network and enlivens interaction among desirable social graphs. The goal is to incite reactions that potentially further the social effect.

Social Objects can take the form of a myriad of other conversation catalysts including…

Earned media is the result of our owned, paid, and participatory media programs and is reflected in the blog posts, tweets, status updates, comments, and ultimately actions of our consumers, peers, and influencers. Earned media is ideally linked to owned media campaigns as well as proactive initiatives that attempt to incite viral and word of mouth activity.

Owned Media – media that is essentially, controlled by the brand. Owned objects are social objects produced by the company and introduced to each network in a variety of formats, text, video, audio, experiences, etc.

Paid Media represents the visibility we purchase, such as display ads, paid search, and sponsorships. When paired with owned and earned media programs, paid media serves as a hub for complementing, reinforcing, and polishing brand voice, directives, mission, and stature. While many argue over the future and fate of advertising, what’s clear is that online paid presences can benefit initiatives where action and experiences are defined and promoted through the click path.

Participatory Media – Representing an extension of earned and owned media, participatory media takes the shape of a hosted hub where brand representatives and our communities can interact and collaborate. Go-to examples usually include Dell’s IdeaStorm and Starbuck’s “My Idea” network which resemble branded wikis designed to elicit responses, dictate direction, establish community-focused governances, etc. Participatory media equalizes the balance of power, providing a dedicated platform the gives voice to the consumer and a channel for their ideas to trigger transformation or change.

Sponsored Media – This new category fuses owned, paid, and earned media. Sponsored media is one that is championed by companies such as Izea, MyLikes,, Twittad, among others and is creating a new medium for packaging messages through trusted voices within highly visible and social channels. Sponsored media can take the form of paid tweets, blog posts, appearances, and featured objects on targeted profiles. And, whether you agree or disagree with the idea, the reality is that they work and they seem to benefit all parties involved, from brand to paid affiliates to their communities

Businesses are presented with a unique moment in time through interactive technologies to directly capture the attention of their audiences and ultimately stakeholders, through the creation, propagation, and connection of these social objects. However, access to new, expansive, and dynamic platforms does not guarantee our ability to earn and captivate audiences. Our ability to connect and reconnect is driven by our understanding of the unique needs and requirements of those consumers defining our markets and our mastery of the tools and services that form parallel contextual networks.

Read Part Two

Connect with Brian Solis on Twitter, LinkedIn, Tumblr, Google Buzz, Facebook

Please consider reading my new book, Engage!

Get Putting the Public Back in Public Relations and The Conversation Prism:

Image Credit: Shutterstock

Article originally posted at HubSpot

175 COMMENTS ON THIS POST To “The Future of Marketing Starts with Publishing Part 1”

  1. Great post Brian. I'm interested to hear people's views on the use of the phrase 'Social Objects' as I'm seeing some people use 'Social Currency' instead. I wrote a post recently titled 'The 5 types of social currency' – – welcome your thoughts.

    • briansolis says:

      Hi Steve, wonderful post. Technically what we create and introduce are considered social objects simply because they're catalysts for action and reaction. Ultimately, their relevance and resonance as dictated by intentions, contribute to their varying levels of currency and value. At least, that's how I'm thinking about it right now…


  2. Great post Brian. I'm interested to hear people's views on the use of the phrase 'Social Objects' as I'm seeing some people use 'Social Currency' instead. I wrote a post recently titled 'The 5 types of social currency' – – welcome your thoughts.

  3. Sorry says:

    Sorry, but I'm calling BS on this.

    Not every company needs to be involved in social media. It's just a medium. No one would ever say that every company needed to be involved in DM or radio or TV.

    And one of the most successful companies in the world – Apple, doesn't do any of what you say.

    I'm sure posts like this are great for selling your books and iPhone apps, but they really have no bearing in reality when it comes to marketing.

    • briansolis says:

      I often use Apple as one of my examples as they are masters of the back channel…feeding media from alternative channels. This post has very little to do with “getting into” social media. This has everything to do with media, new, traditional, and social.

    • Apple is the best example you can use to talk about the back channel of social media. They have an encyclopedia of policies for their employees on the topic. People forget the extent of the marketing and the mkt 101 “marketing mix” when thinking about social media. Apple excels in the product part of the marketing mix in a massive way. The focus is non verbal communication with apple. They design user centric products and they design their marketing to make it look like they don't try too hard. The visual speaks for them, the user experience does the work. Using Apple as an example in this case is false. Apple took the linguistics definition of back-channel and made themselves the text book example in new media. They're not about words they're about making statements through design. They've mastered communication through design and have become the prime example for UR = UE – You Are the User Experience- a cornerstone of WOM marketing and still a cornerstone of web design and social marketing. Bravo, great article here Brian.

  4. Dara Bell says:

    I think you have something here, I cannot grasp it but it is here. One the publishing industry is crisis. Can Lulu use social media I would imgine they could. I am offering someone also in online publishing marketing advice, I siggested he do this. Promote what he does with social media and live events (not the press release).

    Also I will also say that yes the newspapers need an online model I think the “social objects” define Steves idea of socal currency. Social objects could offer publishers I will concentrate on the UK ones I know exp difficulty Guardian and Times. The last one is Muddoch owned ent so we know his stance on free media.

    Good freethinking here. I jut hope I can grap so more Trust with such publshers to put such freethinking into place. A business model cannot be that hard to come up with. I disagree with the the first commentator who seems to have missed that this is about publishing and the media crisis is quite evident here in he UK which will take some (a takative sector). This in a country that reads more newspapers and consumes more media than any other in the Eurozone.

  5. Steve Kayser says:

    Excellent post. Easy to understand – and do. A must for small-to-medium size companies trying to connect through the cacophony with prospects, customers and media. But … hard to realistically pull off because of one major flaw.

    Having created more than 20 sites over the last year for a multitude of organizations (profit /nonprofit/technology/healthcare/publishing), I've found that you can create a killer website visually/functionally, with publishing capabilities & reach only dreamed of a couple years ago. BUT … then comes the one flaw in the system, one almost all organizations struggle with and fall prey to.

    The content. The writing. The story.

    After the smoke clears and the shiny new state-of-the-whizbang-art website needs “content,” which to me means, unique, helpful ideas, information, insights and inspirational stories, written in an easy-to-understand style devoid of corporate gobbledygook – then the “uh-oh, oh-crap, this is hard work” comments start flowing.

    And then the content publishing flow starts slowing down. From 3-4 times a week. to 1-2. To once every couple weeks.

    Then no flow no mo.


    Why else?

    It's hard work.

    It takes disciple, rigorous creativity (yes I said rigorous creativity) and is a demanding job to consistently create, write and publish good content.

    Nice wrap-up to your post …

    “Our ability to connect and reconnect is driven by our understanding of the unique needs and requirements of those consumers defining our markets and our mastery of the tools and services that form parallel contextual networks.”

    I would add that the “understanding” part is fairly easy – if you know your market and are tuned-in to the issues and problems. But the publishing of good content relies heavily on decent writing skills, a consistent flow of helpful or stimulating ideas to write about and a strap-on-the-boots get the work done mentality. And that's …

    … hard work.

    If someone thinks it isn't – they haven't done it – or aren't doing it right.

    I'm testing a Co-Jo (Company Journalist) program at our company to help create and fill the need for good content. But before the Co-Jo's start I ask them to read a couple books I think would benefit anyone young or not so young in the supraluminal new media environment we work in.

    1. War of Art – Steven Pressfield (attitude and style)
    2. New Rules of Marketing & PR – David Meerman Scott (studies and examples)
    3. STORY – Robert McKee (eloquence and elegance of story … I mean he wrote the book on STORY)
    4. Linchpin – Seth Godin ( attitude, new workforce reality – exceptional read)
    5. Reality Check – Guy Kawasaki (business sense – common sense – good sense)

    These book help them grasp the attitude, set the sails, chart the course and start sailing the choppy seas of the rapidly evolving new media world.

    (Of course I haven't read your newest book yet – but will)

    Best to you Brian.

    I've been visiting your site since before the SMNR days.

    Steve Kayser

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  7. carenlibby says:

    The groundswell in social media is coming to a head, and the audience is out there waiting to be captured. Talented messengers plus relevant platforms can equal greater success in reaching the market. This is one of the best articles I've read about how essential it is for companies to dedicate resources to take advantage of the interactive technology that is readily available.

    Thanks Brian!

  8. veganicolas says:

    The big challenge is convey the correct message to the companies, because i think that still is very dificult for too many to understand his formula EC=MC. Mainly if your client is a family company, pyme or is outside of USA and always need money to survivor. Sooner or later they have to understand but when is the question. “Someone said” The cash is to pay the accounts, to growth, etc. We aren´t going to spend the money in producing content.

    Believe me i am convinced of these criteria. This article is good, but if we want these people change their paradigms, we need more than words, we need; metric tools, pragmatical arguments, and facts, stats, study cases or competitor cases.
    We have to get into the provocation formula.

  9. Damn it Brian, thanks for stealing a chapter out of the upcoming book (I better make sure I don't write the same as you).

    The great thing about positioning yourself as a company as part media-source is that you have something that becomes easy to talk about. Good content spreads. Banner ads and crap don't.

    For example, what sounds better to you?

    “Buy my amazing hockey sticks!!!!”


    “25 Toughest Hockey Players Of All Time”

    The content spreads. And oh by the way, they have a product for you if you are interested.

    “Oh by the way” is the new soft sell.

  10. mattlabuda says:

    Thank you again Brian on another excellent post. It is time, as you said, that all companies realize their role and need for a social presence through whatever media they determine best. We really are in a time where we see so many companies making this realization and start to build this presence. The trick now for all of those companies is not just to have that presence but to build and positively maintain it through the content that they publish to all their stakeholders.

  11. hari001 says:

    Peter this side from Canada. I recently called for businesses to broaden their perspective of Social Media from an experimental stage of acting and reacting, to one of learning and leading through intelligence, participation, and also publishing. Creating social profiles and broadcasting tweets and status updates is elementary, whereas creating a meaningful presence through the development and dissemination of remarkable.


    Trade Events

  12. So well put, Brian! I do believe that businesses are finally recognizing that their content doesn't need to be simply blasted everywhere but only needs to be written in the proper language for their desired audience and distributed via the most appropriate mode of communication to reach just them. Looking forward to reading part 2.

  13. helen_bishop says:

    That's right, I agree with Elis, it is important for business to recognize their targets and to perform proper market analyses in order to know the way in which they should approach their prospects. Spreading the same message over and over again to everybody without distinction makes no sense for the business and it is annoying for those who are not interested in the message! This is also another reason why business should be able to understand the differeces between branding, advertising and PR:

    Great article! Hope it is read and used as the inspiration to improve!

  14. Janelle says:

    Other interesting examples of 'Participatory Media' are and among others, all powered by Brightidea.

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  16. It is mind blowing influence that we come across in media conversations. The wisdom so commonly distributed for the sheer knowledge, use and implementation in our social and business lives. The emergence of high quality media publishing with great content is something to praise and admire at all levels and to acknowledge its impressions. Great stuff contributed is the sign of a great thinker who created it at the first place. I like the collective social awareness being cultivated through connecting each other so conveniently with great CONTENT. We all shall endeavor to keep it up…..

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