I was in a wedding in October. When members of the bridal party were making the various beauty appointments associated with the big day, I opted not to have my makeup done by a professional. In the past I've found that when I let a pro do my makeup, I end up looking like an entirely different kind of less-wholesome pro.
Still, I wanted to look nice and to make sure my application was up to snuff. It occurred to me that no matter how many magazine articles I'd read as a teenager or how many makeovers I'd seen on television, I still didn't know how to correctly apply eyeliner.
Yes, EContent readers, I'm writing in this magazine--using my editorial--to talk to you about makeup. If you're wondering if I've lost it, I can't say that I blame you, but I promise I have a point.
A few days before the wedding, I found myself sitting with my laptop searching YouTube for makeup tips. In a matter of seconds, I'd found exactly what I was looking for. I discovered a channel called The MakeUpChair With Sineady Cady (she has a really lovely accent, and the videos are worth watching just to hear her). Sineady is a young makeup artist living in Ireland, who uses a blog and her YouTube channel to promote her brand and find new clients. Her email address is posted right there on the channel, so if you're looking for someone to do your makeup for a special day, you can shoot her a message.
As I was watching these in-depth tutorials--and sharing them with the bride-to-be and other bridesmaids--I was thinking how much more efficient and useful these videos are than some step-by-step guide in Seventeen. I learned where to properly apply the eyeliner and how to get it right with some easy techniques. (Turns out I was missing a lot.) I was so impressed I moved on to watch the eye-shadow video and even the foundation tutorial.
It's not as if YouTube is a new phenomenon, but it's becoming clearer to even the most casual internet user that video is a superior medium--and publishers neglect this engagement tool at their own peril. There are entire television shows based around showing and commenting on popular internet videos. (A deep affinity for Tosh.0 even inspired the name of this column.) Yes, that's right. Advertisers are spending their money to sponsor shows that are basically nothing but a collection of YouTube videos that we can all see for free. So now we're back to talking about the value of curated content. (See, I told you I had a point.)
It might be unfair to say that the most important things publishers can focus on in 2012 will be strategic video and curated content--or, even better, curated video--because they have both been hot areas for years. But it's becoming increasingly clear that being successful in the digital age means learning how to focus less on the written word and more on multimedia and personalized content experiences. Facebook is setting its sites on becoming an entertainment portal, and don't kid yourself, that is where most of your readers are spending the majority of their time on the web. Facebook and its active, engaged users provide the curation, but publishers still need to provide the content-the quality content that hooks users and encourages them to share it with their networks.
Don't get me wrong. I am in no way underestimating the value of a great story. As a writer, I still love long-form journalism and a well-crafted turn of phrase. I like a pithy blog post as much as the next person, but all the evidence says posts that incorporate video are more likely to be read and shared-and that is how you pull your readers in.
Publishers, even the most reluctant (ahem, News Corp.), started realizing that there is no way to win in today's market without a good digital strategy. Most of them are still figuring out what that means, but at least they're trying. I predict that 2012 will be the year that publishers finally learn the lesson I got from Sineady Cady: It's all about enhanced user experiences. Whether that means a simple how-to video on YouTube, a well-designed iPad app, or an enhanced ebook is for you to decide. But if a 20-something makeup artist in Ireland can create such great content, then the giants of the publishing world should be able to figure it out.