A CMO Show Blog Post
Dealing with disruption: Digital marketing lessons from the Huffington Post
A CMO Show Blog Post
Dealing with disruption: Digital marketing...


In the dog-eat-dog world that is digital media, it’s clear that there’s really only one message out there for brands wanting to stay relevant: disrupt or be disrupted. Here are lessons from Huffington Post marketing…

The fast-paced shift of the modern mediascape to multichannel convergence has opened the flood gates of possibility for brands looking to embrace a new era in digital marketing.

The adapt or perish adage is now a hard and fast reality for all enterprises. John Hamilton Howard, Emmanuel Josserand and Roy Green recently argued in the The Conversation that not even public sector services are exempt from the pressure to succumb to the digital disruption reshaping established business models everywhere.

“This means going well beyond elaborate websites and mobile apps. Going digital means pursuing initiatives that will truly transform the customer experience and build digital capability through support for and investment in new business opportunities,” Howard, Josserand and Green assert.

“Moving in this direction will require not only a substantial investment in new technologies and skills but also a change in mindset. It must be part of a broader strategy of bringing digital transformation to the centre of public sector management capability and practice.”

Brands that have decided early on to shake up their own models rather than risk being reshaped by external, unpredictable forces are flourishing in the current climate. Look no further than Domino’s Pizza, Black Milk Clothing and Fairfax Digital Media and you’ll see what I mean.

Public sector services would do well to look at these brands and media outlets that are successfully disrupting the space and pioneering the way; that means putting Australia’s digitally savvy consumers front and centre when going to market. Enter, The Huffington Post. 

A decade in the sun: Lessons from HuffPo marketing

Already raking in 2 million unique visitors each month from our shores, Australia represents one of the largest audiences for The Huffington Post (or HuffPo as it’s colloquially known) in a country that doesn’t have its own edition. Of course this dynamic will shift once more when Arianna Huffington launches her lucrative partnership with Australia’s Fairfax Media before the year’s end.

With high smartphone penetration and the third-highest proportion of social media users in the world per capita, it’s not hard to see why the digital media empire has chosen Australia as its next port of call.

Huffington Post Marketing

“It’s not just our journalism and our platform for bloggers but also all our advertising products I think would find a very fertile ground here, whether that’s native advertising or sponsored sections,” Arianna told Mumbrella.

Having recently celebrated its 10th birthday, Arianna’s brand continues to build momentum. Today she oversees more than 850 journalists and editors, along with thousands of bloggers, writing up to 2000 stories a day.

Beyond that, Arianna has climbed to dizzying heights having last year been named the 52nd most powerful women in the world by Forbes.

In this age of brand digitisation, as the need to embrace a competitive edge becomes more apparent and Arianna’s accomplishment is no small feat.

So what exactly sets HuffPo apart from the rest? And what can brands learn from Arianna Huffington when it comes to disruption in digital media?

Here are three lessons in digital marketing from The Huffington Post:

Disrupt the space:

Don’t wait around to be disrupted (or worse still, forgotten about) because that is doomed to fail. In a recent interview with CMO.com editor Nadia Cameron, Arianna said that actively disrupting HuffPo’s business model every year or two has allowed it to grow and flourish as a brand.

“The third phase for us was to recognise the world was changing and people were communicating by sharing the news. Social is the new front page,” Arianna said. “Now we’re on many platforms and new media – our focus is to inform, inspire, entertain and empower.”

Embrace the pace: 

In her book Thrive, Arianna challenges readers to embrace the pace of digital for your brand, but not for your personal life.

“We are paying a heavy price through this collective delusion that burnout is the only way to succeed,” she noted. “We have shrunk success down to power and money… but we need a third metric.”

By responding to the changing dynamic of work-life balance and reconsidering how people go about their day, Huffington has been able to create a working model that supports her employees. For instance, staff are banned from bringing devices to meetings and from responding to work emails during down time and weekends.

Say, and then do: 

According to Arianna, “trust is the new black” and it should never be underestimated when it comes to digital media. The ability to recognise what it is your users need and give that to them is what can truly set your brand apart.

“People become your most loyal readers when you add value to their lives. It’s about moving from being nice to have, to must have, and being useful to becoming indispensable.”

And when it comes to work life balance, Arianna’s advice is just as powerful. During a short Ted Talk she shared the idea that anyone can “sleep their way to the top” when it comes to success.

“The way to a more productive, more inspired, more joyful life is getting enough sleep,” she said.

“What’s good for us on a personal level, what’s going to bring more joy, effectiveness in our lives, and be the best for our own careers is also what is best for the world. So, I urge you to shut your eyes and discover the great ideas that lie inside us.”


Related: The road to content marketing success is paved with consumer trust
Related: A marketer’s maze: The path to effective content marketing
Related: The difference between B2B and B2C content marketing
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Related: Hijack marketing: Stealing the spotlight


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