For the longest time, global visionaries have stressed that if content is king, distribution is god. The digital media landscape in many ways was expected to have leveled the playing field, putting control back in the hands of the creative professionals instead of players with deep pockets that could spend on distribution channels. However, as content stream started cluttering up, distribution and eventually content discovery, required a whole new approach to make any difference.
Initiative MENA put a lens on this aspect of the conversation in a recently culminated event in Dubai, ‘Stand Out Content’. Agreeing that distribution was as important as content, the key takeaway from the discussion was to take content distribution a notch higher, and focus on the audience.
“Content distribution is important. What is more important is the receiver of this content. How do we make publishers distribute content to the right audiences? There is a large volume of content available today. It is important to narrow this down to what users want, and then choose the right ways to get this content to the relevant users,” said Ian Manning, Head of Agencies, Facebook MENA.
Unlike social media platforms that are essentially distributors of content than being content creators in the strict sense of the word, many digital media companies face the dual responsibility of creating and distributing content.
The perfect marriage is required more so for such players that include the likes of over the top companies too. “For us every single medium has benefit and merit. We produce and distribute content. Whether it digital, free or paid media, each complements the other. Twitter and Facebook are precious platforms to develop content for, or even to assess the success of our content,” explained Khulud Abu Homos, SVP Programming & Creative Services at OSN.
Go To User
Social media experts are of the opinion that content needs to be present where users are. Newer forms of digital and social channels attract audience’s attention, as younger audiences experiment with new options. At the same time, a large portion of audiences is going mobile given the proliferation of various kinds of handheld devices from smartphones and tablets to hybrid models as well.
“Statistics show that 80 percent users access Twitter through mobile and 90 percent are watching videos on mobile. For us at Twitter, it is critical we distribute content where the users are and allow formats people are becoming comfortable with. Whether the content is created by a brand, a publisher or a user, it has to be where users are,” said Benjamin Ampen, Head of Revenue, Twitter MENA.
The combination of mobile and video is an area of focus for almost all social media players at present. The initiatives taken in this direction has given brands and media owners newer and more effective ways of connecting with consumers.
However, one of the challenges that players such as OSN face is at the production level itself, which requires a strategy for live coverage on the likes of Facebook and Twitter. “Content is still produced in local languages. Our content is premium. It’s a challenge to have a strategy for proper distribution because we want our offerings to contribute to one another on various platforms, and not compete with each other,” Ms Abu Homos stated.
Well Thought Through
While strategizing, distribution cannot follow content creation. Like any good marriage, it has to go hand-in-hand right from the drawing board. “From the moment you start thinking of creating content, you should start the planning for distribution. More than published content, well-thought out content matters,” Mr Ampen advised.
Another advantage of thinking about content at the same time as distribution is to be able to leverage the various options that platforms are providing. “We aim to drive users back to the publishers’ platforms. This is easy to drive through Facebook through various ways. When a user watches a video on Facebook, for instance, it gives them the option to watch similar videos from brands,” Mr Manning explained.
In an era, when everyone is a publisher, premium content will stand out. It is essential nonetheless that media companies closely look at and choose from the various available options to ensure that the right content and platform combination is created to reach their consumers.