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Wake-Up call for media marketers

Last week, I was able to contribute an advice column to Media Posts’ Online Media Daily. In it I talk about what media companies, and specifically media marketers, need to do to take their websites to the next level. At the end of the day it comes down to knowing your audience and building a site that keeps your audience engaged and ultimately serve as your brand’s ambassador. Here are the tips I shared. Comment here to share other best practices and insight.

What do media companies really need to take their websites to the next level? With social media came an influx of blogs, wikis, and forums in the media market - but many lacked real strategy or commitment to the success of the cause. Marketers certainly "get" the value of community, but in looking across so many sites in the industry, media brands could be doing so much more to strengthen their brand equity through their sites.

Audiences are more diversified, and dispersed, than ever before. The companies who are reaping the greatest benefits are the ones taking a 'sum is greater than its parts' approach and using new media and even open source platforms like Drupal to keep their audiences close to home.

With this in mind, it's time for marketers to take stock and focus on a few main areas:

Simplify the Creation of New Sites to Keep Audiences Engaged
Media brands speak to a variety of audiences through the use of microsites- sites that have the same brand look and feel, but are customized by artist, product or event, for example - which are an important part of web marketing strategy. However, creating microsites has become an intensive and costly undertaking and as a result, marketers don't take full advantage of how they can function as a part of a truly integrated, interactive and social media campaign. At the end of the day, brands should be thinking about the design, the message, and the community elements without being hindered by technology. A flexible, social publishing system like Drupal offers a quick, easy path to launch compelling sites with thousands of customized plug-and-play modules. The result: a larger, more interactive brand footprint that scales across media conglomerates and sites without the time, cost, or hassle of traditional website content creation.

Harness User-Generated Content to Push Brand Innovation
Many marketers assume that if their website incorporates user generated content, message boards, blogs, user profiles, social networks, streaming content and more they are armed with the right tools to engage their audiences. Building a lasting community, however, is not that easy. The fact is entertainment brands are fighting to have their message heard above countless other "communities" popping up across the Web claiming (and in effect dispersing) fans and brand equity. Drupal lets marketers take conversations and content already being developed by their audiences - Twitter streams, blog discussions, Facebook fan pages- and effectively turn them into fine tuned channels to spread brand awareness and acceptance. With its built-in functionality, Drupal allows users to easily share, distribute, rate, and discuss their ideas with others who have similar interests, making it a strong viral branding tool that ensures maximum impact.

Break Down the Barrier Between Artist and Audience
If you want audiences to identify with your brand, don't build a wall between them and the artists they follow because you're afraid of diluting your brand equity. Social media done right can help entertainment companies break down this barrier in a way that allows them to maintain their reputation but still enable audiences to feel an intimate connection to the communities that are meaningful to them. From music companies to television network sites, Drupal has proven it is the surest path to blending content and community in a workable platform.