3 Untraditional Publishers Who “Got It” in 2010

How untraditional publishers are becoming more dynamic and profitable by leveraging multiple mediums and the power of social networks

Defining an “online publisher” is becoming more and more vague, but we still stick to the notion that an online publisher is any company that produces online content. Five years ago, this was generally a traditional publisher that was posting free online blogs, which we referred to as a “hub”.

Now, this could be a site that only posts video blogs, or tutorials and training. For example, we consider Lynda.com an online publisher because they are publishing online information. The medium is simply a platform.

Even authors are becoming online publishers, by launching landing pages and videos for their books, ala Gary Vaynerchuk and his Crush It book or Tim Ferriss and his 4-Hour Body book. These books have landing pages, blogs and even videos from the authors that turn them into online publishers of their own.

“If you want to succeed, you should strike out on new paths,
rather than travel the worn paths of accepted success.”
– John D. Rockefeller

2010 was an excellent year for online publishers in terms of innovation. Like Rockefeller suggested, many online publishers paved the way with mobile applications, and many others dove deep into multiple platforms like online video, social media and dynamic live events. It was a great year for growth, discovering new opportunities and defining new paths. Here are some exceptional path-makers.

WikiLeaks

WikiLeaks is seemingly the target of every government on earth right now. By taking private government and company documents, they’ve exposed conspiracies and less legitimate business practices and exposed them for the world to know. While WikiLeaks isn’t technically a “wiki”, which would be defined as allowing anyone to post and edit the website, it is still structured using the platform.

To create your own wiki, all you need to do is download, install and setup MediaWiki, which is the same platform that Wikipedia runs on. You may want to take some lessons from Julian Assange, creator of WikiLeads first, though.

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Facebook

Facebook has transformed from a closed social network, only available to college students with a valid college email ID, to a world-wide digital publishing and marketing platform. Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s Founder and CEO was recently named Time‘s “Person of the Year”.

The platform that just one year ago was mostly used for personal interactions and fan pages, has transformed into one of the marketing world’s greatest assets. They’ve designed an ad system that beats Google Adwords in terms of relevance and actually lets users provide feedback on ads and goes as far as letting people “like” certain ads. The best part is that people DO in fact “like” many ads. I’ve found myself, especially when I’m shopping online, going to Facebook FOR the ads, because they’re so targeted. I’ve also found myself hitting the “see more ads” link to get even more. Put simply, Facebook’s ads have got game.

But besides that, they’ve completely regenerated things like Facebook Pages, which allow businesses to truly interact with their customers much more than they could with fan pages. They’ve launched groups, which allow more conversation and like LinkedIn Groups, can create niche communities on the network.

Five years ago, nobody considered Facebook as a marketing platform, and today it is the platform to use when a company starts a social marketing campaign.

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Yelp

Yelp is an online review site for foodies. A year ago, this is all it could be defined as. At the end of this year, however, it has expanded into a multi-dimensional platform. They’ve taken what FourSquare has conquered and included location-based check-ins.

So before, you would go to a restaurant, leave a review, and that would be the end of it. Now, you can go to a restaurant, “check-in” with your mobile application, and leave a review. Once checked in, like FourSquare, you become the “Duke” or “Duchess” where you have the most check-ins. Like Foursquare, this is an incentive and game-like quality to a former review site.

By checking in, you can also see “specials”, which are discounts available to Yelp mobile customers and are put up by the restaurants themselves.

In addition to this, they’ve added “Yelp Deals” ala the incredibly successful Groupon. So you can now use Yelp to also find daily discounts at venues and restaurants close to you.

Yelp started as a review site and have taken some of the “best of” applications and websites around and transformed their own product into something much more dynamic. The customers are happy, and you can imagine that their profits from vendors are up as well, since they’re offering so much more.

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These are just some of the big-whigs, but I’m sure you have other publishers you might suggest who “got it” in 2010. I could have added about 50 more to this list, so please do add your own suggestions in the comments and why you think they made an impact.

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