The medium is not the message
Video looks like being a hot marketing medium in 2016, but web site owners would do well to remember that the medium is not the message.
Why do you have a website? What messages are you trying to give your customers? Far too many businesses have made the same mistake over and over with the internet, of thinking that the medium is important, and the message is merely incidental.
In the very early years of the web, the big thing was Hit Counters. Websites were set up dedicated to how to build a hit counter for your home page, how to change the appearance, how to make it look like the odometer of a car, how to display the digits in Klingon. And sadly, far too many businesses desperate to jump on the internet bandwagon thought that being seen in the medium, having a dot com domain name, and the best hit counter imaginable on the front page of the website was far more important than the content of the website, or what people, customers, might want to visit the site for. They did not understand that the medium was not the message, and this in turn gave rise to an industry where charlatans would offer to generate massive numbers of fake clicks on your site, to get your hit counter into the millions, so that you would be the envy of your friends.
That trend has repeated numerous times over the years. When blogging became popular, many businesses decided they had to be seen to have a blog on their website. It never occurred to them that a blog is only successful if you have something worthwhile to say, something that people actually want to read, and that it needs ongoing commitment. So many blogs had one post which essentially said "Welcome to my blog", and then gathered dust.
What other mediums have been must-have by companies who thought it was a substitute for the message? Flash is one that springs to mind. We went through an era when it seemed every website was being rebuilt with a complex flash animated menu, and it was not uncommon to have to sit through 30 seconds or more of a "Loading..." progress bar before anything useful appeared at all. Web businesses existed purely to build Flash front-ends for websites. Perhaps a similar situation now exists with apps. At SKILLZONE we receive enquiries from people who tell us they need an app. When we ask what they want the app to do, they don't know, or much care, but they've heard that businesses need an app these days.
Social networking is definitely a medium which is mistaken by many as the message. Some companies use Facebook and Twitter very effectively. For example, one of our customers, AQR, has built up a Twitter channel which has more than 1,800 followers, all relevant people in its industry, and it uses Twitter to genuinely engage with those people on a daily basis, to have a real conversation with potential customers.
There are other companies though that simply do not understand that it is the message which matters. They create social networking presences and naively expect customers will beat a path to their door. So much are they enchanted by this concept that they will pay good money to sellers of fake followers. The sellers of these products are calling themselves social media marketing companies, and they have created armies of fictitious Facebook and Twitter personalities, although the advertising blurb claims they are "real", whatever that means. The going rate for instant followers on Twitter is around £50 to £60 for 10,000 fake followers. Facebook fake friends cost about twice as much.
With video emerging as a business tool, we are now seeing the same trend with YouTube videos, not just companies creating stunningly boring corporate videos and expecting people to watch them, but also the industry of deception which will sell you fake video views. They claim these are real video views made by real people but they sell views at a price of one million views for less than a thousand dollars, which means they would be paying their viewing network a paltry 0.1 cents each for five minutes of their time. If buying a million views isn't enough to satisfy your ego, you can also purchase a thousand instant likes of your video for less than fifty dollars, and sadly you can also purchase dislikes at the same rate if you want to trash a competitor's video.
27th January 2016
This article comes from the SKILLZONE email newsletter, published monthly since January 2008, and covering topics related to technology and the internet. All articles and artwork in the SKILLZONE newsletter are orignal content. If you would like to receive the newsletter direct to your inbox each month, please SUBSCRIBE here. It is free, and you don't get added to any other mailing lists. It uses best-practice confirmed opt-in only, and you may unsubscribe at any time.