These days we most often hear the word “gatekeepers” in the context of their disappearance. I’m sure you’ve read and heard comments like, “Thanks to the Internet, people have access to free-flowing information without gatekeepers getting in the way. . .” It’s hard to argue with that sentiment, especially when social media is helping to reshape authoritarian societies (and even our own democracy) on a daily basis.
But from a marketer’s perspective, the death of the gatekeeper has been greatly exaggerated. In fact, there are more gatekeepers now than ever before.
I dusted off one of my PR textbooks from college, which described gatekeepers this way:
“The gatekeepers examine the information that comes to their attention and use only that which they select. If it is really news, it may be used. If the gatekeeper doesn’t think it will interest his or her audience, it won’t be used.”
Did you get that? By this description, we are ALL gatekeepers. Your Facebook friends, Twitter followers and blog readers are an audience, and marketers want to reach them. That makes you a gatekeeper. If an organization or a company can provide you with something that you think will interest your audience, you just might share it.
That’s why content is so important. If the gatekeeper doesn’t think your video, contest, poll, or blog post will interest the audience, it never sees the light of day. But if your content interests one gatekeeper then it just might interest another gatekeeper, and soon the power of viral marketing carries your brand further than you ever imagined.
So the Internet may have promised to be a giant slayer, but in fact it turns out that every time a gatekeeper is removed, hundreds more crop up in his or her place. It may sound daunting, like Hercules fighting the Hydra. But for savvy marketers who understand what their audience wants, it’s a battle easily won.