So what exactly is “Publishing”? A magazine or a tweet?

I thought I knew what publishing is – but at a recent panel put on by Social Media Club of NY I realized I was not seeing the whole picture (#oldfart?).

The panel’s topic was: marketers becoming publishers. I’d anticipated that they’d talk about the creation of magazine style content by marketers – in print, like the Red Bull magazine that I get in the mail, or online like the Coca Cola Journey website. So I figured the publishers to be imitated might include Hearst, or Conde Nast, or The New York Times.

But the digerati on the panel were thinking much smaller – and much larger – than that. To them “publishing” meant as little as a single tweet or Facebook post, or a picture on Instagram or Pinterest. It should be noted that when I discussed this with a book lover, she said she thought that publishers meant Scribners and Penguin and Scholastic and their ilk.

As moderator Tim McDonald of Huffington Post succinctly pointed out in a day-after-panel tweet “Publisher means different things to different people.”

I see now that, individuals and marketers alike, we are all publishers as soon as we post to our wall. Marketers don’t have to create a platform or channel of their own, just hitting Share or Post or Update is enough. I get it. Really what they are doing is creating and “buying” their own media plan and being their own creative team. Ad/media pros please note.

So are marketers taking to this? How is this working for them? Media Post reports that seven out of ten marketers plan to increase their 2014 spend on social, compared to just 9% who plan on more TV.

And yet 85% of of surveyed marketers said that one of their biggest obstacles is demonstrating ROI for their social spend; which makes me wonder what all that much-touted big data is doing for them. Given this, it is pretty startling to learn that social share of marketing budgets is expected to rise from a current 6.6% to 9.1% over the coming year and then to 15.8% over the next five.

Whew. Imagine how big it would get if they could demonstrate a significant ROI.