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Flipboard’s Top Tips for Bridging the Widening Gap Between the Media and the Platform

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“Creating a healthy ecosystem is absolutely paramount when creating content on your platform. You have a responsibility for it.” — Mike McCue, Co-Founder & CEO, Flipboard

Media and platforms are no longer working in sync as they should be, said Mike McCue of Flipboard during a session at #SMWNYC. But it can be easily changed, and the partnership restored.

Social content and the way it is utilized on each, audience-specific, content-specific, output-specific platform has been a big talking point at this year’s #SMWNYC.

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The way social media sites are used by brands and how the platforms themselves are marketing themselves has led, in Mike McCue’s opinion, to a breakdown in communication and a lack of potential-reaching content online.

Kerry Flynn from digital media magazine DigiDay sat down with McCue to chat about what’s gone wrong in the partnership between platforms and media, what can be done to set things right – and how Flipboard has overcome these challenges to become a successful online, consumer-curated brand.

The format is coming before the content.

McCue was quick to point out that where a lot of brands fail is believing what they hear when it comes to the latest and greatest form of content.

‘Video is the future!’ shouts a voice from the crowd – and all of a sudden, brands are racing to pump out clip after clip. What it really needs to be is a balance between each. Pictures, videos, articles, community posts, and even adverts – all in moderation.

Flipboard itself is an online platform for ‘magazines’ – where collections of content about a certain topic can be gathered. But there’s no one category or manner in which the content should be posted. That’s the point – the topic is the common denominator – not the way in which you’re posting it.

‘Video doesn’t need to live in its own little world’ says Mike. Bring it together. Community is key.

The platforms are full of junk.

Another thing that needs to change, according to McCue, is the visions of the platforms. They’ve been sucked into the booby trap of trying to do everything and cater for everyone – losing their original purposes in the melee of it all.

Facebook, for example, McCue says is, and was, a great platform for connecting with your friends and family. It’s less adept for finding out whether you should vaccinate your children. They’re no longer being used what they’re designed for. And instead of seeing content that is curated and adapted to each consumer’s needs, each person’s feed is a mish-mash of content from all over the place.

Twitter, adjacently, is great for ‘the first amendment’. But with the privilege of being able to talk directly to power, comes the fact that the power talks back. Then the trolls circle.

‘It’s a work in progress’ said McCue. One of the most important things to take into account is that an algorithm can’t work on its own. There must be human curation involved. Whether that’s from the curators – adapting the algorithm to the content and the consumers – or the consumers themselves – being able to mute certain sources or topics and pick and choose what they see – it’s imperative for a good relationship between media and platform.

“Creating a healthy ecosystem is absolutely paramount when creating content on your platform. You have a responsibility for it.”

Monetization isn’t natural.

The world revolves around advertising – and so does social. That’s how platforms make their money. But it’s not as well thought out as it should be, according to Mike.

Adverts that usually color Facebook and Instagram feeds are not correlated with the content that people are viewing – and of course, in the state that current socials act in, that’s impossible, as there’s no link between any of the content on there.

For the full impact of adverts to be felt, the monetization of the platform needs to be natural. The ads have to be in a place where they don’t even seem like ads – because they are relatable to what the consumer is expecting – and likes – to see.

McCue used an example. If someone’s on Flipboard and is browsing through a magazine about camping – then a Patagonia advert would be purposeful and well-placed. The consumer, in fact, is more likely to buy because they are not bewildered as to why the placement is there.

Ads need to ‘build genuine relationships with users.’ Mike referenced the ‘interruption economy’ associated with advertisers and how it puts people off adverts before they’ve even given them a chance, because of the intrusive nature of them. The current environment for advertising is ‘ugly’ – and it rubs off on the brands involved. That’s sad, because it probably isn’t the brands fault that they come across in the way they do.

Advertising needs to be utilized in a ‘respectful, well-lit, trusted environment’ – enhancing the experience of both the user and the advertiser. It’s a win-win.

Despite the negative stance of the talk, there was a fruitful outcome. Flipboard, even if they say so themselves, are doing it right – and McCue thinks everyone else can too.

‘We absolutely believe it can be done.’

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