ALL COMPANIES ARE MEDIA COMPANIES
I’ve just spent nine chapters emphasizing that the key to social marketing is microcontent. In fact, the shorter your content and storytelling, the better. But as I look to the future, I see a yin to the micro-content yang. After all, long-form content isn’t dead. It still lives on in the form of YouTube videos, magazine articles, TV shows, movies, and books, for instance, where it continues to find a sizable audience. But as brands continue to push the traditional boundaries via which they used to disseminate their content, and as companies recognize that they less and less often have to rent their media, but can own it and remarket it whenever they want, they’re going to start wondering why they have to deal with separate media companies at all? Why couldn’t they simply become their own media company? It’s not a crazy idea. There is no logical reason to think that a tire company should be a food critic, but a hundred years ago, Michelin tires started reviewing rural restaurants to encourage people living in the cities to drive farther and wear their tires out more quickly. Guinness created the Guinness Book of World Records to reinforce its brand and give people something to talk about in the pubs. Similarly, I predict that one day a brand like Nike could put out its own sports programming and compete successfully against ESPN, or Amtrak could launch a publication that could stand up to Travel + Leisure. The start-up costs would be extremely low for a luxury brand like Burberry to publish an alternative to the Robb Report, or for Williams-Sonoma to publish its own version of Eater or Thrillist. So long as brands remain transparent, so that their consumers aren’t duped into thinking these sites and publications are strictly objective content providers, this could be a fruitful way to expand their brand and their content reach. In a way, it would be no different from what I was doing through Wine Library TV. Everyone knew that I sold wine, but they trusted my product reviews because I made a huge effort to be honest, fair, and authentic. Any other brand could do the same for the product or service they sell.
Some people will be skeptical. That’s to be expected, especially in the older set. But the young, the under-thirty demo that puts a ton of stock in its bullshit detector? They know this is the future, and it doesn’t scare them. They have come of age in the era of transparency, and they know they have no choice but to treat their consumers with honesty and respect. No consumer will put up with anything less. In the marketing world, there will soon be no more separation between church and state. It’s going to be exciting to witness the innovation that comes about as brands become major players in the media world.