When we think about media, we think about reach and volume - how many people will (potentially) see your message at any one time. The message could be relevant to them directly, and to their friends and neighbors indirectly. Unless they see it though, they won't be able to find it. Mainstream media still manages to capture the lion share of distribution and ubiquity.
It was curious to see that the Wikipedia definition of mass media now includes the Internet - blogs, message boards, podcasts - because individuals have now the potential to a means to exposure that is comparable in scale to that previously restricted to a select group of mass media producers.
Ashton Kutcher used Twitter to expand his reach and engagement - he now has more than 3.7MM followers. Kutcher was a Hollywood star before he built on that with new media. Gary Vaynerchuk first built a business, then used new media to help people spread his work, which in turn garnered him attention in mainstream media and more popularity - and reach - as a result.
The mass appeal in these two examples was built on top of an existing notoriety in the first case and a solid business and winning personality in the other. Then, when enough people talked about and shared their work, mainstream media saw it worthy to help them tell their story. Which in turn increased the exposure of both.
Building a Platform
How do you build a platform around a product, service or company you truly believe in?
Switch from content consumption to content creation. It's not about automating the tools, although tool automation can help you with reach through peer to peer interactions. Your content needs to be good - if someone can use it to test something, learn something new, they will tell all their friends.
It starts with building equity in a content hub - your home base. This is one more place where you can learn through listening. There are many other ways to monitor online conversations.
To me it makes sense to make your base at your Web site or blog, the place where you aggregate your online presence in social networks. The content you put on other sites ultimately belongs to those sites. You can aggregate comments and reactions to your posts from other sites by using Disqus. I created a profile to start using it on sites that integrate it.
Use other tools like Twitter, FriendFeed, Facebook, Slideshare, Flickr to socialize your content, add commentary and conversation, test what's working, what gets traction, and keep editing and making improvements to your content mix. If you're not sure that something like a video, for example, is giving you enough return on investment (the time + cash you use to create them), do A/B split testing to find out. Testing is a good way to validate your assumptions when done regularly and for a period of time.
This week we'll be talking about writing engaging content for the next Web and building consistency throughout media - for brand equity. Does it still make sense to use a public relations professional or firm for media outreach? Why/why not?