In Media, Social Media

I recently attended a few events for Social Media Week, a global, multi-city social media extravaganza. It was great to become part of the conversation, in real time, on topics that are affecting advertising and branding agencies.

Media outlets are rapidly changing. Therefore, clients—and, more importantly, their consumers—are asking questions.

One panel discussed the purchase of Huffington Post from AOL, and the value we place on new media companies as well as mergers with old(er) media companies. This got me thinking about how we value new media ideas. Let’s take a look at three examples.

  1. Julie Powell started a blog, chronicling her attempts to recreate every recipe in Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child. When people caught onto the idea and decided it had value (entertainment that would then translate into profit), it was turned into a familiar medium to be presented to the public—through a book, and then later a movie. But the blog already had fans, so why was this idea translated to a different medium? Are blog readers not valued, or are people still just tied to the old media channels?
  2. Justin Halpern turned things his dad said into a popular Twitter stream, S#*t my dad says. But seemingly, Twitter wasn’t enough. Instead of just having interested people meet him on Twitter, the idea and momentum were translated into a book, and then into a TV series starring William Shatner…yep, Captain Kirk. But Justin’s Dad was funny on Twitter, so why did it need to be translated into a book and then a TV show?
  3. PostSecret is an ongoing collaboration project in which people share postcards containing their secrets. New secrets are posted to the blog each Sunday, curated by Frank Warren. PostSecret currently published its collection of secrets into four volumes available at your favorite retailer under different topic headings. Publishing these secrets in book form removes the interactivity of the site; the public can no longer comment on secrets or share their opinions on a controversial topic. Isn’t this why people fell in love with the Web anyway?

So what do these examples of translating ideas from a new format demonstrate? Do people value new media? Or are they just using new media “to go viral” and then waiting for publishers and producers to find them?

Perhaps I am just being a bit naïve. Maybe if I published a successful blog and was asked to make “The Emily McDonough Story” into a film starring Meryl Streep, I’d think differently. Who knows?

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