Silicon Valley Watcher - Former FT journalist Tom Foremski reporting from the intersection of technology and media

Weber Shandwick Partners With Niche For Social Media Traffic

Posted by Tom Foremski - November 13, 2014

Nathalie Tadena at the Wall Street Journal reports on Weber Shandwick's partnership with Niche, an aggregator of more than 5,000 "social media celebrities." 

Among the social media celebs in Niche's network with the biggest reach are Nash Grier, a teenage Vine star with nearly 25 million followers across his social media accounts, and singer Kevin Jonas, who has a total reach of more than 22 million users.

Each celebrity is a big media publisher in their own right and the deals brokered through Niche aren't simple sponsor or advertising opportunities, the "celebrities" will be paid to create the social media content for Weber's clients. 

Weber Shandwick's global president of digital Chris Perry... estimates about 15% to 20% of Weber Shandwick's PR programs involve social media influencers and that's growing fast, especially for consumer brand clients.

Read more: 

Weber Shandwick Partners with Niche to Tap Social Media Celebrities - CMO Today - WSJ

Foremski's Take: [I'm working with Weber Shandwick's Mediaco on an unrelated project.]

Partnerships such as this one are a smart way to jumpstart an audience for a brand if it's part of a long term strategy to build a loyal audience, it has to be more than just a three-month campaign.

Borrowing the audience of a "social media celebrity" is fine but at the end of the day companies need to learn how to become "celebrities" in their own right, they need to learn to become media companies with direct access to their own audiences, unmediated by Google or anyone.

Weber Shandwick's Mediaco group is worth watching because it is directly focused on helping "every company become a media company."  It's a trend I first spotted nearly ten years ago and it has now reached a tipping point influencing the content marketing initiatives of companies worldwide.

Media publishing success has the additional benefit of blocking attention to competitors. It's a killer competitive strategy -- if you aren't seen online you don't exist.

Tooling up for business...

There's tremendous business opportunities for PR and marketing agencies to capitalize on this trend, and there's opportunities for many others, too. For example, software developers of media technologies.

Corporations will need to equip themselves with an arsenal of media publishing platforms, apps, tools, analytics and infrastructure, all made complex by the fragmented nature of tens of millions of media channels; and made even more complex by the extraordinary two-way nature of our modern media: we can publish content to any screen and each screen -- pocket or desktop -- can publish back, through comments, video, clicks, silent cookies, etc.

Companies need to become good at interpreting and engaging with all that media feeding back to them, as well as know how to produce great media content. And they'll have to feed (and walk) that media beast every day. It won't be easy.

They'll need a lot of help from a lot of people. And hopefully, they won't have to relearn basic rules of ethics and best practices that we've accumulated in the media industry over hundreds of years.

The media is dying ... and growing

The old media might be dying out but before it disappears, it can teach the new media how to walk. It's an important lesson. 

We face a democratic crisis in that special interest groups will gladly pay for the media they want people to read but people won't pay for the independent media they should read.

Brands becoming media publishers will be tempted to skew things their way, all the way. But they should be careful because they will be subject to the same ethical scrutiny as a Wall Street Journal or any other media company. Learning to walk straight will be key.

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