Emily Bell has run an article in today’s Media Guardian commenting on the Guardian’s new look homepage that grabbed my attention. Most interesting is a point referenced to Jeff Jarvis, highlighting the recent drop in importance for the homepage. Visitors to a site are increasingly more likely to arrive directly at content within a site than land on the homepage. Search engines and links on other sites point people to articles and features – avoiding the front door and plonking them straight into the living room.

Admission by the Guardian

Admission of this by the editor-in-chief of Guardian Unlimited only goes to show the huge reliance media has on other sites – social media in particular – to drive traffic and gain exposure online.

This follows an announcement a few weeks ago by NBC Universal and News Corp, planning a rival to YouTube to hold prime time content such as 24 and House of Heroes. What really interested me when this came out was that they are planning to rely upon [tag]social media networks[/tag] for distribution. Viewers will be able to take a video of 24 and post it on their own blog or MySpace page.

Media owners clearly understand that it is their content – whether that be the most recent article by Emily Bell or latest episode of 24 – that drives traffic.

Engaging with Social media

And this is why NBC Universal and News Corp are planning on engaging with [tag]social media[/tag]. By making it easy for people to share and pass around their content online, they are driving monetisation. In NBC Universal and News Corp’s case, having a video posted on a personal blog is fine, because the eventual viewer will still be privy to the advertising contained within it. In the Guardian’s case, a proliferation of links pointing back to articles all serve to maximise traffic back to the advertisement-filled site.

So, in this new world of reliance on consumer endorsement, what can media owners do to ensure success? The first prerequisite is of course that the content itself stands out. The second is to build a solid understanding of [tag]social media relations[/tag]. Which key online influencers should media titles be striking relationships with? What formats do social media commentators prefer? What are their passion points? What are the pitfalls to avoid?

In this sense media faces many of the same challenges online as brands. Perhaps the two-way relationship between PR and media is set to grow even more complicated!?

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