September 29, 2022

Helping PR pros make smarter decisions

The Free Content Debate Continues (and other Social Blog Jots)

The Free Content Debate Continues (and other Social Blog Jots)

As someone who gets annoyed even when I have to create an account and log-in to access information on some major newspaper websites (, for example) I’ve always been hesitant to engage in the “should content be free?” debate. Of course, we all want content to be free. We want to roam the interwebs unhindered by the need to fork over paltry sums to get our input fix. (MOAR INPUT!)

But does it make sense? For the outlets providing the precious input, of course not. They need to stay afloat. They have bills to pay just like any other business. They’re providing a product—why shouldn’t we pay?

My answer is: why should I pay when I could get it for free elsewhere? That’s the heart of the debate that media makers should likely take seriously. A paid model could work, but would it attract as many readers/viewers/eyeballs as its free counterparts? Probably not. So what’s the solution? On to the Jots!

Is Free Content Killing Media? – Mitch Joel – Highlighting a recent Newsweek piece discussing the dangers of free content to media and advertising industry, Mitch has some interesting arguments. He points out that decision-makers may be stuck in a traditional view rut, and that it’s that—not free content—that could really be the issue. “Beyond that, media must innovate a whole lot more. We need more start-ups experimenting with newer advertising and revenue models and we need some of the more traditional media companies to stand-up to their own investors and plead for the flexibility to figure out a new world where content is primarily a zeroes and ones game. Subscribing to the notion that digital simply means copying and pasting traditional forms of content online (or reformatting it for a smartphone) is a huge mistake. Publishing in the digital world looks nothing like publishing in the traditional world.”

What Chrysler Did Wrong – Megan Hannay – Sure, the story is a couple weeks old at this point, but it continues to be compelling. In one of the better posts I’ve seen taking this position, Megan argues that Chrysler goofed in ditching its agency for the now widely circulated Twitter gaffe. She compares it to the similar Red Cross gaffe, and notes the difference in how the two brands handled the human side of social. “Correct me (and you will) if I’m wrong, but isn’t the whole point of social media that customers have the opportunity to interact with human representatives of brands? And humans, well, we mess up. After 5000+ tweets and updates and blog posts, etc. it’s to be expected that most humans would make a mistake or two – especially if an error is as easy as forgetting a single click-over to a separate twitter handle.”

Twitter Chat Strategies – Angela Maiers – Have you participated in a Twitter chat? Neither have I. Using hash tags to follow the conversation, many groups are having interactive conversations via Twitter on a wide range of topics. Could this become a part of your ongoing social strategy? Angela explains how it might be worth checking out. “Real­ize that you are not going to be able to inter­act with every­one in the “chat-torium.” Fol­low the con­ver­sa­tion and pick a few folks that you find par­tic­u­larly inter­est­ing and respond to them. If the per­son who sent the orig­i­nal tweet replies to your reply you have started a con­ver­sa­tion. Like­wise if some­one replies to one of your tweets, reply back to them to con­tinue the conversation.”

What Makes a Blog Worthwhile – Valeria Maltoni – While many companies are still struggling with whether or not a blog even makes sense for their communications strategy, those who’ve decided to move forward may be stuck with where to begin. Valeria has some excellent advice for how to get started, and attract the right kind of audience. “Given that there isn’t a universal definition of what works, and that the best way to learn it is to get started, you can begin with the people you should know the most — your customers. What kinds of things do they read most? Are you already offering a newsletter, for example? Can you tell from click throughs? Have you experimented with landing pages from articles? I’m a big fan of A/B testing whenever I want to have a better idea of what resonates. This is also the best way to show what works to management.”

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