Digital media has become a technological behemoth that supports all kinds of businesses, but plenty of companies could stand to improve the impact they have in the digital space. To that purpose, Warren Webster, CEO and President of Coveteur, says that the companies that find the most success with digital and social are the ones that know they're different from traditional companies and capitalize on it. He broke down for me what he considers the most essential things leaders need to grasp for digital media success.
1. "You're always on."
"The pace at a digital media company," Webster says, "is extraordinarily fast. [...] Clients and customers expect that [you] will consistently innovate and offer them new services. To do that, you have to move quickly, test (and frequently fail), and be nimble. [...Look] for candidates who thrive in that kind of environment."
Webster adds that, unlike traditional media, which has a pre-established rhythm that's hard to break, online and social media is a 24/7, two-way conversation between you and your followers. "[The digital rhythm] requires you to be both quick to publish and quick to react to what you hear back, both directly and through the data. [...] That's not to say that you shouldn't or can't also work on the bigger, planned, major pieces [or projects...], but keeping that constant dialogue going on topics that are of immediate interest is critical if you want to be part of someone's day every day."
2. Your CTO is a diamond in the coal pile.
With technology in digital media changing so quickly, Webster advises partnering with the strongest CTO you can find to reach and engage potential followers. He asserts that your CTO should be your "yin to your yang," being able to cover whatever technological gaps you might personally have. Great CTOs fit flawlessly into your business culture, goals and philosophies, regardless of skill set. They can translate what you need or want into technological solutions without frustration and, conversely, can explain technology in language you and your team easily can understand.
3. It's OK to miss the mark sometimes.
"Remember that the pace and volume of online content works in [your] favor when trying new things," Webster advises. "One or two flops will not kill the brand. If [you] don't have some losses, [you're] not pushing boundaries enough. Don't overthink it."
4. Your instincts matter.
Webster admits that it's good to use data and react to what works. But he also claims that the top-notch digital media editors and related professionals are successful in part because they tune into their instincts. Followers trust that your leaders are experts and, subsequently, want to know what they think is important. In fact, showing your followers what you believe has value is a huge part of creating, maintaining or reorienting your distinct brand voice.
5. Working hard to stand out isn't optional.
The cost to get into digital media is relatively low, but Webster asserts that that's not necessarily going to do you any favors, as it creates excessive competition. "Anyone can be a publisher using today's tools," he says, "So your brand truly has to stand out and do something that no one else does well, or it will get lost. The brands that have become household names have made that connection with a large consumer base and have been relentless about providing a unique service to the world."
As Webster shows, there's doing digital media, and then there's doing digital media well. Make sure you're in the latter category and take Coveteur's expertise--which undeniably successful celebrities like Oprah Winfrey and Cindy Crawford have relied on--to heart.