Bloggers, Social Networks & Adver-Novels

Bloggers Crucial to the Future of Journalism
Consumers are dissatisfied with the current state of traditional journalism, according to a recent Zogby International Poll, and are therefore leaning on bloggers to supplement their news. The majority of respondents indicate that they are not happy with the way journalism is responding to what they want, though 90% say “trustworthiness” will play a large part in deciding the influence social networking sites and blogs will have over journalism. Fifty-three percent of respondents say that the rise of free, internet-based media poses the greatest opportunity to the future of journalism, and 76% indicate that the internet has had a positive effect on the quality of journalism. Other findings:
* 55% of respondents say they are dissatisfied with traditional news outlets, and 61% say traditional journalism is out of touch with what Americans want from their news.
* 86% of respondents believe bloggers will play an important part in journalism’s future.
* Despite the high level of dissatisfaction, 72% say journalism is important to their community.
* 81% name websites as an important news source, 78% television, 73% radio, 69% newspapers, and 38% magazines.

Effects of Social Networks on Decision Making
When individuals faced with a decision use other members of their social networks as a source of information they are better able to navigate potential outcomes, according to an April 2002 research report titled “Social Networks and the Aggregation of Individual Decisions,” written by D. Lee Heavner of Economic Analysis LLC and Lance Lochner of the University of Rochester. The research also suggests that increasing the overall size of a social network may have a negative impact on the efficiency of the network.
The study was intended to determine how well offline social networks work as sources of information dissemination, specifically in warning school-aged children of the negative outcomes of dropping out of high school. As a by-product, the study also found that instituting penalties for non-participation and rewards for participation increased participation rates. The threat of punishment — as opposed to the promise of reward — garnered the most measurable effect.

Lexus Marketing Strategy: A Real ‘Page-Turner’
In a move the blurs the boundaries between literature and marketing, Lexus has tapped Los Angeles writer Mark Haskell Smith to write a serial novel as a promotion for the automaker. The idea for the “adver-novel,” which will be published in three installments in the Lexus quarterly magazine, was hatched as part of the company’s overall efforts to reach a younger, hipper target audience.
Subtlety is the key to making this kind of marketing endeavor work, experts say. Consumers don’t want to read a 200 -page advertisement, but if the advertisement manages to masquerade as an enjoyable piece of noir crime fiction, as Haskell Smith’s tale of the “Black Sapphire Pearl” intends to, then consumers have something worth reading — and talking – about.

APPLICATION: Clearly, the same trends we see in the USA away from traditional media is “happening” in the rest of the world. Social Networks like MySpace & Facebook are critical in our media mix because the young use them to make decisions. “what do my Facebook friends think and post.” And finally, perhaps we need to start writing serials like the Adver-novel with embedded Christian principles? DH


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