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Feed. Where I grew up in rural Santa Clara California, this meant alfalfa we shovelled to our horses.

Now, the word has an entirely different meaning to a global world of young digital natives, and understanding/collecting data on how these types of feeds are accessed and interacted with is going to be big business.

Where do you learn about breaking events? Consult the Twitter feed. Need to get caught up on family and friend’s whereabouts after a long- stint of no communication, that’s a Facebook feed.

For shopping you have your Pinterest feed – or, more importantly your followers Pinterest feed in order to get the latest visual porn around the products and brands that matter to you most. For personal expression, you have your Instagram or Tumblr feed.

Before joining Econsultancy, the most important feed for my line of work (tech PR) was Techmeme, and the leaderboard, or authors with the most posts there became my bible.

Now, as a content marketer for our reports/events/services based in the London office, we are breaking down and analysing what our Techmeme equivalents will be, spread out across multiple areas of the social and not-so-social web. 

Unfortunately the niche worlds of digital marketing hasn’t had a Gabe Rivera (Techmeme founder) come in yet to curate and provide discussion jumping points (to see what I mean by this, look at the Twitter sections underneath each news article), but here at Econsultancy we have big plans about content, since we make so much of it, and always in qualitative terms.

Then yesterday, Pew released timely findings around the devices we use to hold and carry our feeds. I am suddenly think of a giant feeding trough, but if you have been paying any attention, you know that what I am talking about is tablets and smartphones which now, according to Pew, half of U.S. adults own.

From the report:

News remains an important part of what people do on their mobile devices. 64% of tablet owners and 62% of smartphone owners say they use the devices for news at least weekly.

Ok that’s great, but as our own U.S. VP of Research Stefan Tornquist pointed out:

At some point we need a study that differentiates between types of news. The way Pew frames the question, people are replying with general/personally interest in mind. For B2B publishers, the profile may look quite different, with desktop numbers far higher, times of day, etc.

Stefan is making a very important point, and at some point our researchers will most likely poll among tablet users to find out in detail how the device can be used for marketing and e-commerce.

But getting back to my original train of thought, the point of distinction I want to make around feeds and their containers from a content marketing perspective is that regardless of user habits, our content strategy (used to grow awareness and ultimately subscriptions to our reports) needs to be: 

  1. Unilateral to properly reach and engage the influencers and writers in the niche areas of digital marketing we publish in, and…
  2. Mobile platform agnostic to make sure we are reaching the largest percentage in each of these areas, and scaling the content immediately for the respective device and use case scenario

How does a content program succeed with such opposing objectives? Well, I had a meeting yesterday with a European startup built around HTML5 that might just have the answer.

The company is called Flockler, and the founder Toni Hopponen, who can’t be more than 23 years old, talks excitedly about these exact things.

Needless to say Toni and I hit it off, and I am excited to be starting a trial run of an industry secret  already in use by News International, The Daily Mirror, and surprise... (really, no-one saw this coming) TechCity UK.

Want to see more? Check out the links to the feeds from the Flockler homepage.

Also, for continued reading on the subject the GigaOm article “Five reasons why media companies should pay attention to The Atlantic”.

If you are hungry for some more alfalfa for thought in this subject area also check out the 2012 Content Marketing Survey, published in association with Outbrain.

Ryan Sommer

Published 4 October, 2012 by Ryan Sommer

Ryan Sommer is web veteran and recovering expat who contributes to Econsultancy on startups, content marketing and new media. You can connect with him on LinkedIn, follow him on Twitter, or add him to your circles on Google+

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Comments (3)

Ryan Skinner

Ryan Skinner, AD at Velocity

Excellent post, Ryan.

The other day it occurred to me that twitter's most significant contribution to the world may have been that it has taught a huge swathe of people what a feed is (or, at least a much broader group than blogging would have taught).

I remember playing around with Yahoo Pipes years ago, and being kind of amazed what you could do through simple manipulation of feeds.

Thanks for the tip about Toni and Flockler!

almost 4 years ago

Ryan Sommer

Ryan Sommer, Freelance Consultant

Hey Ryan,

Matt Owen and I are both big fans of Yahoo pipes. Viva la programmable web!

Ryan

almost 4 years ago

Matt Owen

Matt Owen, Head of Social at Econsultancy

Dang tooting - Pipes have all sorts of cool functions if you put your mind to it, thoroughly recommended if you have a free evening and a bit of patience :)

almost 4 years ago

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