Wednesday, April 15, 2009

What Makes a Great Multi-Media Site

My research has allowed me to analyze and compare and contrast a number of popular multi-platform sites spanning the web. From this analysis I've come up with a list of key items that generally indicate successful marketing of multimedia products.
1.) Interaction
-It is incredibly important to have user interaction within one's site. Viewers will not only have a reason to continue coming back (they'll feel invested in the product), but you'll get immediate feedback on content and will be able to tailor your product to the consumer's needs.

2.) Various multimedia platforms
-Just having video isn't enough. In today's technologically enhanced society you need to offer consumers a variety of options. Sites that contain games (, for example), iPod applications, Podcasts, and photo albums generally will generate and maintain a larger audience. This is because there is something for everyone and the information can be accessed across a variety of platforms.

3.) Information that seems unique to the user
-Offering regurgitated or aggregated information isn't enough. You have to give you audience something they truly can't get anywhere else. Even if you are covering a story with a national audience and appeal, you have the opportunity to make it relevant to a specific audience. For example, a story about the economy becomes interesting and unique to Ann Arbor residents when you find a specific human interest angle that is unique to the community. People want to know how something will affect them in particular.

4.) Humor is an important attribute to employ
-People don't want to be bogged down with just doom and gloom. They want to get their news in an informative manner (which is partially why shows like the "Colbert Report" are so popular). Try making feature pieces that convey a message while still providing an entertaining hook. For example, a story on Michigan quarterbacks could take the humorous approach of having an average Joe try doing what they do on a daily basis. The story would showcase the QB's talents while also providing the humorous visual of the average person attempting, and failing, at doing the same thing.

5.) Encourage dialogue, opinion sharing
-People love polls. They don't have to be smart. Sometimes simple is better. People want to think their opinions matter though, so asking them to answer a simple poll question can increase your consumer participation and thus encourage repeat users. While the ability for users to post comments means that viewers may disagree with the message you are trying to present, it may also mean that more significant supporters come out of the woodwork. Being in the spotlight, good or bad, is better than not being in it at all. If someone posts a negative comment on a site, generally more people will respond with positive feedback supporting your work. Criticism can be good. It can show that your site is less biases and open to people of all backgrounds and beliefs. Having others support your thoughts, and not just the owners of the site helps add credibility to the message you're trying to send.

Overall this independent study project has caused me to change the way I consume media. Now every time I watch TV, surf the web, or turn on my iPod I am thinking of the different ways in which the media is being marketed, the ways in which the content is produced and delivered, and the reasons for my use. I pay close attention now when I watch shows like Gossip Girl to see the ways in which multimedia platforms are being used. The other day I took time to go the the CW's website to see how they integrated both original and regurgitated programming in an attempt to draw people to both the show and the site. I pay attention to product placement, teasers, and banners in a way I never had before.
I feel as though I have a much better understanding of the different components that make up multimedia packages. The thought processes that go into the design and execution of these things are incredibly complex and until recently I didn't take the time to think about it. Planning has to happen way in advance to correspond with TV schedules and marketing promotions. I think that is where a lot of companies are lacking right now. They aren't putting their internet planning side-by-side with their other platform. The companies that are thinking that way (ESPN, for example) are the ones that are flourishing.
I suspect that this is a project I will continue to work on. I doubt I'll ever be able to go back to watching TV the same mindless way I once did. I think like a multimedia broadcast journalist which means I'm constantly looking for ways to hone my craft and expand my skill set. Observing industry trends is an important part of that learning process.


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