The spread of social media may enable brands to regularly produce their own content -- but even publishers have yet to master it. Here's why brands can't become publishers on their own.
If you have been reading tech press, ad trades, or stepped foot into a digital agency over the past year, you have heard a common theme: Brands are becoming publishers. The belief is that the spread of social media eliminates the need for a traditional publishing middleman, since the brand now owns its distribution through platforms like Facebook and Twitter.
In theory, since Coca-Cola has more Facebook fans than the primetime audience for "American Idol" four times over, it should get more value from its own audience. The challenge with this belief is that inherently assumes that brands know how to create content that people actually want to consume.
There are brands that are completely dedicated to creating that type of content: NBC, Viacom, ABC/Disney...These brands have the formula for what it takes to make "hit" content, and even they can't get it right over half the time.
These content creation brands diversify their portfolio of content to hedge risk against duds (The Playboy Club, anyone?); brands like Starbucks, Coke, etc don't have the same type of risk luxury. This is the reason why brands won't become publishers: Either they already are, or they're waiting on the right solution.