4 key rules for 2013 start with mobile first


Built as a Web site about efforts in social media, Mashable.com is one the most important sources to see what could have an impact on media companies’ businesses and audiences.

Its founder and CEO, Pete Cashmore, doesn’t have just a very promising name, but he has a Twitter community of 3.1 million followers who give him quick feedback after revealing trends and insights. A few days ago, backed by this database, Cashmore dared a 2013 outlook and delivered his four rules for this year.

Here we go:

  1. Mobile first, not desktop.

  2. Social first, not search.

  3. Visuals matter.

  4. Ads are content, too.

Assuming these four rules are true, we have to rethink some issues in the news media industry.

If mobile becomes the most important platform, we’ll have to find the right channel to distribute content to mobile devices — and it won’t be by apps on the iPhone.

What the Mashable guys observe is that there are more screen sizes available now than ever before. Smartphones become larger, tablets become smaller. There’s no denying that Mashable was read on more than 2,800 different devices last year.

The individual creation of apps cannot sufficiently handle the amount of screens offered. Even Android demands at least three different versions of apps to serve all the devices running its operating system. And the audience isn’t as thrilled by apps as the creators are.

Cashmore confessed that users prefer the mobile Web by 3-to-1 compared to apps. Even the PDF version of the newspaper is still both a cost-saving and successful approach on smartphones — our customers like to read it digitally as they once did in the old world. The Web browser is obviously another tool people prefer.

Whenever you want to reach people on mobile devices appropriately, you need a code based on “responsive Web design,” which lets any Web site design fit, regardless of the browser version or the screen size used. That’s a terrific shift and a huge contradiction to the hype we experienced when the first iPhone apps and Android were launched.

Referring to my first post on this blog, (“Does your organisation have what it takes to make the digital leap?”), some weeks ago, I’d like to ask: Do you have the right employees in the organisation to help you quickly adapt to this development and to modernise the newsroom at your media company?

Mike Smith, executive director of the Media Management Center at Northwestern University, calls them “platform strategists,” and they have a strong version of what is needed to bring content to the customers. They are motivated by something Kenneth A. Brofin of Hearst Digital Media describes in this way: “How can I move eyeballs from one platform to another?”

Content has to be delivered when the consumer wants it — and not the other way around. A platform strategist has to know all the platforms, technologies, and players, and in addition to this, he has to know the market oppourtunities and the strengths and weaknesses of his own organisation to deliver what is needed.

How to monetise the content is a crucial question, there’s no doubt about it. To even get a chance to do so is the first challenge.

We’ll have to have a closer look at these competencies needed. For this, I’d like to share Smith’s description of them:

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