Lattatudes: Not Just Because It’s There

| November 1, 2009

John-LattaI remember the days before computers changed everything. Newspapers and magazines had set forms and ideas about content that didn’t change very much over the decades. But now publishing is not only changing, it’s changing rapidly and will continue to do so, and the change is, if not entirely unpredictable then at least frustratingly hard to anticipate.

The internet started to alter the publishing landscape and now social media is expanding both the speed and the range of changes. No one really knows where social media is going but we are all using it. The value it brings seems to be linked very closely to the intent of the content-uploaders. A colleague of mine recently showed me a YouTube clip of a pudgy little guy doing all of Beyonce’s moves from one her music videos. It was funny. It had also been seen by something like three quarters of a million people.

George Mallory, a British mountain climber obsessed with Everest and who would die trying to scale it in 1924, is quoted as answering the question of why he wanted to climb the world’s highest peak with: “Because it’s there.” So much of what we find on the internet and through social media is posted because they are there. It’s a jumble out there. All sorts of people posting all sorts of information. It’s commonplace for the gratification from page after page and post after post to go to the source of the material not the end user.

Better Roads uses social media and we also have a brand new website (www.betterroads.com). Our approach to building and using these tools, because that’s what they are, is to work from the user’s perspective and the user’s needs back to ourselves. We are purpose-driven. We don’t want to have a presence in social media or on the internet simply because we can. That means feedback becomes a call to action. We try and walk a mile in your internet surfing shoes but it is reacting to your use of what we create that will continue its development and continue to increase its worth.

The velocity and breadth of the expansion of internet, digital and social media make an endeavor like this a daily challenge. Take a single example. LinkedIn arrived almost overnight and we incorporated it into our portfolio. But to maximize its usefulness we have to constantly assess what it is doing, how it is doing it, how its potential to change they way business is done is developing and then adapt our strategies in using it. Get complacent in publishing today and you die on the mountain.v

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