While new media has taken over the world of public expression, the centuries-old marketing principle of supply and demand still rules most modern communication channels. Those channels include popular media monsters such as Google News (a menu of traditional and new media), Twitter and Facebook. Prior to the advent of new media, the editors of traditional media outlets (mostly newspaper section editors) were often the decision-makers, and their choices usually favored stories that their readers were interested in. Section editors continue to follow those same principles today.
Conversely, the new media writer is simultaneously the reporter, editor and publisher, but the viability of his/her work is still a function of the subject matter’s popularity. If no one is interested in the author or their chosen story, then there is a good possibility the new media expression will simply not make it to Google News, Twitter or Facebook.
Many of today’s new media channels are dependent upon Google News or Yahoo News. Facebook Friends often post links to news stories within seconds of their appearance on either of those sites, and this process has added a turbocharged dimension to the fast-paced channel of tradition media on the web. A few years ago, sending links to friends entailed copying the web link and emailing it to a select group of contacts in one’s email address book. And looking back even further, sharing news items meant cutting out newspaper clippings, photocopying them on office equipment, and hand delivering or mailing them to our friends and business associates. (Readers under 25 years of aged just groaned at the thought!) We have progressed at an incredible rate during the digital era, and there is every reason to believe the process will continue to accelerate.
Twitter is a wonderful medium for disseminating breaking news, but a Tweet won’t “travel” very far if the author has a limited number of followers on their Twitter account. This condition holds true even if the user has their Twitter account linked to Facebook.
Celebrities, some with millions of Twitter followers, have the edge as new media “publishers.” For example, one Tweet from Justin Bieber (44M followers) or Katy Perry may be read by millions of primary followers who in turn have the option to re-Tweet or post to other social media platforms such as Facebook. To reiterate, the demand for such information is the driving force behind the power of the message rather than simply the new medium.
And then there’s Facebook, the most popular social media platform on the planet. While pre-teens are already rejecting Facebook for other social media platforms such as Instagram, Tumblr or Pinterest, Facebook still rules among new media users from 20-somethings on up. Why does Facebook command the largest market share? The answer seems to lie in its user-friendly nature and its ubiquity among traditional media outlets. For example, most online versions of traditional newspapers allow readers to quickly post story links to Facebook (or other social media platform such as Google+ or Twitter) by selecting a social media icon near the story that they are reading.
In closing, new media is certainly changing the way we receive our news, but the dynamics of supply and demand are still in control of what we see, read or hear at the company water cooler. This is especially relevant to Tweets since many originate from the growing number of mobile devices. Today’s new media “publishers” may very well become tomorrow’s old news, but only if the demand for their media expressions wanes. Some seem to have loyal readers who follow their posts long after their celebrity star has extinguished. They are the exception. Beyond that, the airwaves of new media are often controlled by and subject to the popularity of the latest celebrity icons and the demand for their messaging.