Sunset on the Charles River
Hemingway's La Finca Vigia

The Dawn of a New Internet

Language of the Birds
Flickr image of "Language of the Birds" public art in North Beach, San Francisco via @stephrog

A colleague recently pointed me to this great article on Vox: 2015 is the year the old internet finally died. It's worth a read, for publishers and advertisers alike. The premise:

"...the idea that the internet as we knew it, the internet of five or 10 or 20 years ago, is going away as surely as print media, replaced by a new internet that reimagines personal identity as something easily commodified, that plays less on the desire for information or thoughtfulness than it does the desire for a quick jolt of emotion."

- Todd VanDerWerff,

Here are the points that should matter to brands producing content for the web:

  • "With the rise of social media, a site's brand identity is a little less important with every year." This is in reference to publishers, as their content makes it's way across the social web, converted to quick headlines, sound bytes and images that may not carry the original source branding. I would argue that this is why a strong, consistent brand strategy is important now more than ever. With your content getting disseminated across multiple, disparate sources (owned, earned, and paid), it is critical that all elements work together to reinforce the same core attributes.
  • "Social media has, essentially, turned every content provider into a syndicator." With the need to churn out more and more content to feed the short-on-attention social masses, long form stories and blogs with strong central identities have given way to to a bevy of [somewhat generic] syndicated feeds. Nearly every business I've talked to struggles with the content conundrum: how to develop or secure enough relevant content to keep the Twitter/Facebook/LinkedIn/Instagram/Vine/etc. feed satiated. But if you look around your organization, there is likely a lot of content you are already producing that can be syndicated on the web. And like the point above, it can all work together to reinforce the core brand message. Don't forget to take form into account: consider how to use motion to capture people’s attention, especially while animation/video are still somewhat of a novelty on these platforms. By way of example, look at this fun view of the ICA Boston, courtesy of Instagrammer @thefutureiswow. In mere seconds it captures the energy of the museum and the South Boston waterfront.
  • "On social media, you share an article because you agree with the take, sure, but also because it says something about you..." This underscores the longstanding notion that social media profiles are an extension of one's personal brand, and people will only align themselves with other brands/stories/products that reflect positively on their own. This is a point we've talked about since the dawn of social media, but I feel like many publishers have lost sight of it. To succeed in social, you must create content that people would want to associate with their personal brands, so it's critical that you really know your audience and map your content strategy to their interests and passions.

It can be challenging for brands to find their place in all of this, for sure, but I think it is fascinating to watch the evolution of the Internet and our role in it.

Which reminds me...have you seen the Dave Grohl Rick Roll?!

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