Build your own or leverage someone else’s audience?
Let’s not diminish the power of blogging. Still, something bigger is brewing. About a year ago,there was news that Business Insider was going to start a brand new publication called, Insider. What made it most unique, was that they were going to publish it solely on Facebook. Not links to pre-existing articles that would take the user from Facebook over to Business Insider. Not articles from Business Insider that would simply be copied and pasted on to Facebook. Not just a random bunch off “b-side” type of articles that weren’t fit for publishing on Business Insider. The company would build a news team, think about an editorial calendar and create a new and unique “magazine” that lived, breathed and would evolve solely on Facebook. Where’s the money? Perhaps an advertising rev share deal with Facebook, perhaps a newish brand on a popular social media platform that would create attention for Business Insider, perhaps a deal with Facebook where this unique content might be used in the future if/when Facebook decides to get serious about being a search engine too, perhaps a data platform?… There are a myriad of reasons why.
The thing about this publishing thing.
Writers used to write for publishers. Publishers were the gatekeepers to an audience. Social media enabled writers (and other forms of content creators) to become their own publishing platform. As blogging and podcasting took hold (over a decade ago), many of the new social media platforms and traditional media outlets that were online opened themselves up to allow individuals to be content creators on their platform. Think about YouTube, Huffington Post, Medium, LinkedIn… You get the idea. The prevailing logic is sound: you can publish on your own – and do your best to fend for yourself – or you can publish on the platforms that already have an established and growing audience.
Which brings us to today.
Six Pixels of Separation has over a decade of content. If I had to start it all over today, I would – without question – publish on a bunch of existing platforms, and then have the articles posted here for centralizing, archive and search engine purposes. In essence, a return to my freelancing days. To be where the audience is. But, what if you’re not just a writer or a content creator? What if you wanted to start a new publication? Do the same rules apply? I noticed on Medium that John Battelle (a famed entrepreneur, journalist, author and publisher who was behind Wired Magazine) launched a brand new publication called, NewCo (in conjunction with his event company of the same name). As Wired looked at how technology was going to change our society, NewCo is asking the powerful question: what’s next… after technology? NewCo believes that we’re now able to start looking at how to reinvent capitalism. Unlike the early days of Wired, you will not find this magazine at the newsstand. Unlike Wired, it does not appear to have its own, unique website like Wired did (which, for the record, was one of the first tech news magazine websites ever on the Internet). Instead NewCo is being published within Medium. Yes, a full publication within this very unique publishing platform. Still, Medium often acts, looks and feel like a publication unto itself. With NewCo, it feels more like a publication within a publication.
An interesting publishing play.
This feels like a smart play. Imagine being the number one tech publication on Facebook, or having the most popular marketing magazine on LinkedIn. Can these publications make a name for themselves within the walled garden of these pre-established platforms? For all of the interesting channels that have had acquisition plays after building their audience on YouTube (think about what Maker Studio did with Disney), is there something happening here for a new wave of publications (not just authors and articles) within already established channels?
The game is afoot.