One of the reasons why social media exploded was the concept of brands having direct communications with their customers.
Especially around news.
In the old days, brands wrote press releases, posted them on distribution wires, and then pitched the media in hopes they would write news articles.
Social media flipped that model on its head.
Many brands now have social media news rooms. They write their news the way the media used to. They provide photographs, graphics, screenshots and videos. The news can be distributed directly to interested parties via social channels: YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, blogs, and Pinterest.
Media relations is still important – but no longer crucial.
Does Starbucks really need the media to tell its story when it has 32 million fans on Facebook? Does Google need the media to announce news when the Google Blog averages more than 250,000 unique visitors a month?
The same thing is happening in entertainment. Forget product placements. Forget sponsorships with Hollywood. It’s now possible for brands to bypass the entertainment industry just like they bypassed the news industry.
Welcome to the growing world of Brandtainment. Brands conceptualizing, creating, producing and distributing their own entertainment shows – on social media platforms.
Let me give you a few recent client examples (names withheld):
- A retail food company produces its own “live” cooking show with a celebrity chef as host. The 60-minute program – with real-time interactions on Facebook and Twitter – is broadcast through UStream and simulcast on a Facebook application to the brands more than 500,000 fans.
- A retail clothing company hosts a “live” music concert from one of its stores. The concert is broadcast on its website using UStream and a media partner simulcast the 90-minute concert on the front page of its arts and entertainment website. It is promoted to its 1.2 million fans on Facebook with a link.
- A personal products company creates a website dedicated to action videos and produces a series of extreme snowboarding films that is distributed first by a media partner and then distributed through is website and social channels to hundreds of thousands of fans.
This is just the tip of the iceberg. Brands are using social media and digital communications to create games and applications, social TV programs, live broadcasts and web-only programming. They are partnering with content creators and innovative agencies as well as up and coming entertainers in music, television and digital entertainment to create all kinds of amazing content for their fans.
Hold on to your hats, folks. We’re just getting started.