The Internet transforms online news into B2B content marketing engagement: It’s a consumption experience!

Today, at HiveFire, we were having a little bit of a row with respect to whether we should define HiveFire’s flagship product as news aggregation software for B2B marketers.  Pawan, our CEO and founder, felt that when we mentioned news, we were limiting ourselves in the scope of what our software could do.  He also felt, and not incorrectly, that we’d be arguing against those who saw news as traditional news and irrelevant to B2B marketing.  In my view, news, as we have grown up to understand the concept is no longer correct in an online, always-on world.  What we call “news” today has transformed and become part of the engagement story, online beyond the original definition.  News is mainly an information consumption experience, not an information production output.  B2B marketers who understand the influence of this new form of “news” can collect, curate, and engage with customers in a novel way.  They can also secure an edge against competitors who are stuck in traditional definitions of news and marketing for customer engagement.

In her 2006, but still powerfully relevant, paper “Gateway or Gatekeeper: The institutionalization of online news in creating an altered technology authority”, Sue Robinson tracked the progress of the definition of news production and news consumption in an Internet dominant, always-on, society.  Is news still defined within the gatekeeper paradigm or is it now really a gateway paradigm?  I’ll highlight an interesting point of her paper that resonated with me, as an online marketer, and share them here as competitive advantages that today’s B2B marketers, who curate news, may use them for new customer engagement experiences.

Sues explains that the nature of “space and time” with respect to news production and news consumption has changed with the evolving Internet experience.  Sue opens her paper with the following: “News was a “political institution whereby media organizations make use of routines to standardize disseminated information.”  This is the perfect, traditional definition of news.  Media organizations act as gatekeepers of critical information.  These organizations hire journalists, editors, and other individuals whose job it was to create a routine, periodic sharing of premium information.  These gatekeepers control the space and time of the distribution of critical information.  Whether these organizations printed the traditional periodicals or industry publications, they controlled the “how”, the “what” and the “where” of the production and consumption of news information.  Thus, these organizations controlled the space and time of our views and the views of our customers.  However, the Internet has eroded the gatekeeper role with the democratization of easy publishing.  Anyone can become a journalist of quality, premium information.  Internet Time has sped up the distribution channels so much that even tweets are can deliver the instantaneous, hot news.  Traditional media organizations have to work to keep up with new channels such as blogs, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and now foursquare, instead of leading the sharing of information in these new news channels.

Thus, what we traditionally describe as news is no longer what many of us grew up to understand as news.  News today is now defined by the consumption experience in each online channel and not the distribution experience from the media organizations on which we depended.  The old command and control of space and time of news is lost as the publishing control has been diffused and lost.  Poor Rupert!

If you’re a B2B marketer, delivering content marketing insights to customers and prospects, via these online channels, YOU are now the new “news organization” today.  Within your organization is the power to lead customers, as editors, and provide daily, key industry insights that your customers and prospects, need to understand their business world.  Content Curation is a tool by which B2B organizations deliver highly relevant industry news experiences, across thousands of sources, rivaling media organizations and trade publications.  The need for authority and consistent, periodic engagement has not diminished in the shift of news influence.  However, will B2B marketers “get it” and take a leading role as the gateway of the important news experiences of their customers?  Or, will they be resistant, and see today’s “news” as the old newspaper-print that landed with that comforting thud on their doorstep?