Social media has upended everything from how people find information to media organizations’ business models. Digital Journal talks to a few industry leaders on what this means for the future of media.
In media circles, the words “social media” are uttered almost as often as one would greet a co-worker in the morning, for good reason: It’s completely changed journalism, business models and strategies of news organizations.
According to comScore, almost 75 percent of global Web users access social media sites every month. When it comes to generating revenue, eMarketer says U.S. advertisers will spend $1.68 billion on social networking sites such as Facebook, MySpace and Twitter in 2010. That is a 20 percent jump over 2009 numbers.
And when it comes to journalism, many experts agree social media lets reporters have more frequent two-way communication with news consumers; it allows journalists to find more sources and real-time information; and it enables inexpensive live reporting for just about anyone.
“Social media has fundamentally changed the two most important aspects of traditional news, namely breaking news and commentary,” Jordan Banks, managing director of Facebook Canada, told DigitalJournal.com. “As a result, it is no longer sufficient just to provide the news. The expectation of the masses is now to be able to participate in the news, to share it, shape it, comment on it, define it and to use it as a tool to democratize the entire creation and dissemination process.”
Banks oversees Facebook’s Canadian operations and is responsible for leading and managing all commercial operations from the company’s Toronto-based office.
Previously, Banks was the managing partner at Thunder Road Capital which he founded in 2008 to provide investment and advisory services to early stage technology companies. Prior to that role he was the CEO of JumpTV and managing director of eBay Canada.
As a seasoned executive who has run the Canadian offices of a few Silicon Valley giants, Banks is widely respected and is an expert on social media’s impact on business. In one of his first major public events since taking over Facebook’s Canadian operations, Banks is set to appear on a five-person panel discussion at the Future of Media, an event taking place in Toronto on Sept. 8. The event is hosted by DigitalJournal.com and invites key executives, entrepreneurs, social media experts and journalists to comment on the future of media and engage in a Q&A with audience members.
“In a world where ‘social’ is the norm and expectation, all content — and news is no exception — will have to play by the rules of transparency, honesty and mass collaboration,” said Banks. With social media changing how, where and when people communicate, large news organizations are now adapting their business models and strategies to capitalize on an increasingly engaged audience.
“Media organizations need to look at social media as a distribution tool to get their content and brand to readers and users who may not be visiting their website, mobile site and applications,” Anjali Kapoor told DigitalJournal.com. Kapoor is the Managing Editor, Digital at The Globe and Mail. “The experience of a news user has also changed and more often than not, a news item might show up in a Facebook feed or Twitter feed first. It offers amazing potential and changes the way journalists need to think about their audience and their journalism.”
Kapoor oversees the editorial digital strategy for The Globe and Mail. She was also director of product and editorial at Yahoo! Canada where she was responsible for overseeing the product strategy and business goals of the Media Group. She will also be speaking at the Future of Media in Toronto on Sept. 8.
Kapoor says a social media plan and strategy is always an integral part of The Globe and Mail‘s coverage of various news stories. She says the Globe is using social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter to cover stories and cites a Toronto example: “Our coverage of the G20 Summit was a combination of traditional journalism and a live blog that incorporated real-time tweeting, photos and video from reporters, our readers and other blogs,” Kapoor said.
Print journalism is not the only medium to be affected by social media, either. As David Skok, Senior Producer of Online Content for Global News told DigitalJournal.com, broadcast media is also in the middle of undergoing massive change.
“The ivory tower approach of an anchor telling the audience what kind of day it’s been has been replaced by a collaborative and symbiotic relationship between the audience and the reporter,” Skok said. “On a consumption level, the audience now gets to decide what it wants, when it wants it. Whether through social graphs or geo-targeted hyper-local news, the audience that now determines what’s important to them and their friends, and not the news editor.”
Skok oversees the local and national digital properties under the GlobalNews.ca network. His career spans both the online and on-air worlds of news, and he’s pioneered many of Global News’ online and cross-platform efforts. Prior to that position, he worked with ABC News in Washington on its Nightline program, and with CHUM Radio in Toronto. Skok will also be speaking at the Future of Media in Toronto on Sept. 8.
“The ultimate purpose of journalism is to communicate with, and on behalf of, the audience,” said Skok. “As the audience changes the way it consumes news and information, it is vital that journalists reflect these changes both in their news-gathering and storytelling abilities. Ignoring the effect of social media on journalism is akin to turning your back on the audience you serve.”
Skok believes social media has greatly increased the transparency between news organizations and their audiences, which has improved relationships between the two. And while many news organizations have embraced social media in some way, Skok believes they are not utilizing new platforms to their fullest.
“Very few news organizations have a strong grasp of what each services’ strengths and weaknesses are, and how each can be effectively used as distribution and communication tools,” he said. “Social media isn’t just about communicating to your audience, it’s about sharing with and learning from them in a transparent and honest way. That’s a concept that I think most news organizations are still grappling with.”
For more info on social media and mobile platforms, don’t miss the Future of Media event in Toronto on Sept. 8. The event is hosted by DigitalJournal.com and it’s free to attend but space is limited. More info on the event can be found here.