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Context (Not) Optional

May 29, 2011

I sit here typing away a blog post on my laptop, something that you may read on your desktop, laptop, iPad, BlackBerry, RSS, etc. When I create it, however, I am only considering those who will enjoy this post in the same manner in which I created it: at theacumenity.com.  However when my posts appear in the Google Reader, often the pictures are missing or out of place and the spacing isn’t as I had planned, thus destroying what I had crafted.  As the way we consume media and the internet evolves, so must publishing.

Upgrading to the Android has changed the way I consume media and use my computer. Before, the computer was often the easiest way to gather information, consume entertainment and check my social media.  However, with the full Android (or Apple) app market, many of these tasks are actually made simpler on the my phone.  Similarly, the iPad requires much less finesse than my laptop and is more portable, so I find myself reaching for that first.  As a result, my internet habits have changed and those publishing content on the interwebz should take notice.

Granted, many already have.  Several popular magazines rushed to issue iPad apps that would turn the tablet into a magazine.  It did not occur to me the effect tablets and e-readers could have on the already suffering magazine industry, already wounded by blogs.  However, the magazines should have realized that merely adapting the same product for a new medium wouldn’t work and the magazine apps haven’t.  Instead, they should adopt new ways to stay relevant, like Lucky’s Gilt-esque Lucky Breaks.

Similarly social media applications, which may have first existed on the internet alone, have to find ways to attract the mobile user (the laziest of all users).  Brands on Facebook are well served by placing links to content or tabs in the post itself, as many users are not reading the update on the brand page.  Initiatives like texting to enter a contest or donate money are particularly effective as the user doesn’t have to do anything they aren’t already doing.

The companies and brands that will succeed in the coming months and years are those that can not only understand how its users are consuming content, but also how they are engaging with said content on each particular platform. Obviously, easier said than done.

Do you have any examples of companies or brands doing it right (or wrong)?

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