What do email, instant messaging, RSS (generally associated with blogs), social media (I am thinking in particular about such platforms as Linked-In and FaceBook) and Twitter have in common? They are all messaging channels. And each one grew rapidly in popularity after the then-dominant messaging channel became over-used, and thus less effective, particularly for marketers.

Email was the first of these messaging channels. Its low cost, ease of use and lack of rules turned out to be a two-edged sword, spurring rapid adoption, while attracting a tidal wave of marketers, spammers and others whose mail volume soon swamped one-to-one email communications. Users fought back with aggressive spam filters, usage conventions and even legislation, largely taming the channel and adding lots of marketing constraints.Blogging then went supernova for a while, in part because one could attract an audience at low cost, but more importantly I would argue, because it was closely tied to RSS. The great hidden value of RSS was that it bypassed spam filters and landed messages directly on the users' desktop.

Next up: social networking platforms, such as Linked-In with its Linked-In groups, which created privileged communications channels that are still growing in popularity. And now there is Twitter, which is also growing rapidly.

It seems that once a popular messaging channel becomes too clogged with extraneous messages, a new message channel emerges. Once it generates spectacular rates of adoption, marketers, spammers and others seeking to monetize the channel pile on, creating noise, clutter and a commercial tone that many users reject. This sets the stage for yet another new messaging channel to emerge.

The implication for publishers? They should jump on these new messaging channels as quickly and early as possible, which is when they yield maximum benefit. At the same time, publishers need to be cognizant that it's risky to develop dependence on these channels because their marketing half-life will become increasingly short. The messaging channels that prove durable will be the ones that impose rules and technological barriers that limit their value for marketing purposes. The ones with the fewest restrictions are likely to flame-out relatively quickly.The bad news and the good news in all of this remain the same: the message remains more valuable than the medium, and there is no durable short-cut to building an online audience.

The Best Never Rest
Model of Excellence Award Winner
iJet Intelligent Risk Systems
to Speak at DataContent 09

A 2004 InfoCommerce Model of Excellence Award Winner, iJet has tranformed itself several times to take advantage of new opportunities and emerging business needs, while never losing sight of its core competencies and value proposition.

iJet CTO Greg Meyer will be on the highly popular "Excellence Revisited" panel at DataContent 09 where he'll talk candidly about what iJet has learned about what it takes to succeed in the business of business information, hard-earned lessons you can take to the bank!

DataContent 09: All Roads Lead to Data. Full program here.