Tools or behaviour?

A great post over at Martin Stabe’s blog that consolidates some of the thinking about Simon Kelner’s ‘wait and see’ attitude to the web.

Kevin Anderson takes the debate back to basics with a great comment:

Martin, there is a strategy and then there is the appearance of a strategy. That is to say most often digital immigrants confuse tools with behaviours. The question isn’t whether newspapers should blog but what makes blogging compelling. I’ve heard that a major UK newspaper’s stategy when it comes to blogging is ‘to attract a younger demographic’. That’s not strategic thinking, and it will fail.

Everyone is chasing video because of YouTube without really understanding why YouTube is compelling. It’s not because it’s video, I can tell you that. Now, newspapers also seem to like video because advertisers like video. Well, that makes some economic sense. Are advertisers digging video because of YouTube? I don’t know. But neither the advertisers nor newspapers will succeed if they think that YouTube’s popularity is about video (or about piracy).

A producer I work with has a great phrase for the appearance of strategy– actual effectiveness and apparent effectiveness. The Independent has the latter in spades.

But I particularly like Kevin’s second point: “Everyone is chasing video because of YouTube without really understanding why YouTube is compelling. It’s not because it’s video”

Spot on. You tube is becoming as much a euphemism for a way of working video as Myspace was for UGC, especially in the style and approach of reporter generated content. But as Kevin says, don’t confuse the tools with the behaviours.

It’s fine to challenge the received wisdom that pods and blog’s are the way to go. Perhaps it is easier to produce a pod than it is to ask why you are doing it. But it would be better if the reasoning for the attack came from an informed understanding of audience behaviour online, even better if it came from a position of some experience.

Perhaps the best reason for the Indie to get more involved in the web is to gain a little understanding of why the web audience is different. Then maybe its ‘stand back’ approach would have some of that authority they claim for print.

Update:  Bobbie Johnson asks why the obsession with the audience figures?

5 thoughts on “Tools or behaviour?”

  1. And while we’re giving credit where credit is due (noticed this over on Christopher’s blog first in my trackbacks), the tools versus behaviour idea was really just a riff off of what the BBC’s Tom Loosemore said last week at the Guardian’s Changing Media conference.

    YouTube is popular because of community and recommendation. My former editor at the BBC who wouldn’t rate himself as a web kinda guy used to spend quite a bit of time watching YouTube videos that had been suggested to him via e-mail (after the programme was put together, of course). Recommendation via several mechanisms online is a really powerful driver of shifts in media consumption. My friends send me blog posts, podcasts, music, movies, video every day. I often say my network is my filter.

  2. An example of how far newspapers still have to go is evidenced in their use of video. Often it is of excellent quality, yet few if any make it easy for website users to place clips on their own sites and write about, which would naturally feature a link back.

    Imagine how many people would visit the Bolton News website if it was a simple task for expats and others to promote this video:

    http://www.theboltonnews.co.uk/news/video/index.var.3491.0.0.php

  3. I agree.
    Thats the kind of investment in community that the papers need to make. Give the readers the means to continue the debate away from the brand not in some closed shop.

    The general approach seems to be to want to bring people in to the domain to discuss, share and develop stories. Thats doesn’t work. It’s a bit like demanding that your readers come to the office to discuss a story they read instead of chatting about it in the pub.

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