Why Every Company Needs to be a Media Company

Connecting with people on a human level through content is the only way companies will win in the digital age.

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In the digital era, it’s no longer enough to merely have the lowest prices or best products. Every business needs to create good content to remain relevant. Whether you’re selling shoes or software, capturing the attention of your target audience and keeping them engaged is crucial to achieving business goals and fulfilling your company’s mission.

Our initial concept for Goalcast was a goal-setting app to help individuals achieve their life goals. The idea was to connect users with similar aspirations, allowing them to hold each other accountable while also providing access to resources such as coaching and useful advice. The idea was rooted in research indicating that individuals who share their goals with others are more likely to achieve them. We launched with high expectations that users would flock to the app — but much to our surprise, they didn’t.

We quickly realized that a great concept alone would not reach the masses. We had limited resources and needed to make a decision most startup founders are familiar with: Continue to improve the product or focus on building a community. We shifted our strategy overnight and focused on creating and posting engaging videos and articles that would resonate with people who were looking to better themselves. Our objective was to create a community of 1 million engaged followers before relaunching the app to a more receptive audience.

Today (six years later), Goalcast has more than 60 million followers across our various channels, and our content is viewed by over 700 million people per month. We have yet to launch our app. In the process of building an audience, we discovered that stories are the most powerful change agent. By continuing to refine our approach to storytelling and investing in the creation of high-quality, empowering content, we kept the attention of our growing audience and were better positioned to help them achieve their aspirations and realize their potential.

“Attention has become the most valuable resource in the digital age.”

Your Most Valuable Resource 

Attention has become the most valuable resource in the digital age. People make the decision to buy a product from the comfort of their couch, often in a matter of minutes, if not seconds. That means capturing and leveraging audience attention is paramount. Only the companies that are engaging their audiences will win. The rest are already irrelevant.

A good example is Mr Beast, one of the world’s most popular YouTubers. He completely disrupted the fast-food industry by launching the fastest-growing burger chain in the world. How? By leveraging the popularity of his videos to launch and promote a delivery-first concept with Mr Beast Burger. After it instantly proved successful, he expanded the chain by launching 300 physical locations overnight, something that took McDonald’s six years to do. He’s going head-to-head with McDonald’s with a huge advantage: the hundreds of millions of people around the world eagerly waiting to watch his next video.

According to bloggingwizard (January 2023), the average person spends roughly 7 hours consuming content each day. Once your customer opens their device, every app and every piece of content is fighting for their attention. In the attention economy, you need to work harder than ever to create content that stands out and keeps your audience coming back for more.

How to Think — and Act — Like a Media Company

Whether or not you are part of a media company, you’ve got to think and act like one. These three principles can help take your content to the next level.

1. Authenticity can’t be faked. 

Your audience can spot insincerity a mile away, and they have no patience for it. It’s not enough to seem authentic, you must actually be authentic. We learned this the hard way. We got our start editing long-form speeches into bite-sized snippets of motivation. We expanded into the production of original content and sought to recreate viral empowering speeches of our own.

To keep costs low, we put great speakers in front of an empty room with no audience. But this staged approach lacked authenticity, and our audience felt it. This resulted in underperforming videos and forced us to do things differently. We began to create experiences that included an actual audience, allowing authenticity to emerge organically. We’ve pulled this learning through to our documentary shows as well. Communicating with your audience authentically establishes interest, trust, and loyalty — the attention trifecta.

2. Don’t underestimate the power of simplicity.

The most viral content is simple and relatable, especially on social media. This concept has been woven into the DNA of all our shows. We offer simple, yet powerful, life lessons that people connect with and feel compelled to share.

The content people share and the brands they endorse are extensions of their identity. The clearer the message and the more it speaks to who they are and what they care about, the more they’ll engage with your company and encourage their friends to do the same.

3. Think like a storyteller.

The companies that retain their audience’s attention, and ultimately get them to convert, are the ones that make them feel something. 

There are two main ways we elicit emotion from and connect with our audience. The first is conflict. We usually start our videos with a high-stakes scene, especially effective to grab people’s attention. Conflict is the driving force behind every story, enticing the audience to see where it will go. 

The second is a perspective shift. Great stories get the audience to draw connections between the characters and themselves.

When we witness others overcoming adversity, and we recognize parts of our stories in theirs, we begin to see how change is possible for us too. While conflict and perspective shifts may not be what best serves your brand, be intentional about immersing your audience in a story that will have them thinking about your content long after they’ve consumed it.

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Cyrus Gorjipour is cofounder and CEO of Goldcast.

Watch Gorjipour’s full conversation with Real Leaders here.

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