CNN Buys Beme, Expands Relevancy

This week, CNN purchased Beme, YouTube star Casey Neistat’s social app. The technology is less important than the man, his 6 million viewers, and what he represents. Neistat’s story – from high school dropout to self-made video darling – is the American Dream reimagined for a social media-driven world.

If the mainstream media behemoth plans on remaking and remarketing itself, Neistat is an interesting if not divisive pick. He was once described as “affable with an anti-authoritarian streak – a bit like a selfie-shooting Han Solo” (Wired).

 

Tweet about Beme's Casey Neistat and CNN acquisition

In 1980, CNN revolutionized the way we consume news. They delivered 24-hour news decades before the Internet would make that seem commonplace. All eyes were on CNN and for a time, they defined relevancy.

Today, 62% of Americans get their news on social media, and there are many, many more places to look. The brand is acutely aware that they risk being buried if they don’t keep up. CNN tried to update and up their relevancy game with iReport in 2006, but their citizen journalism initiative never took off.

In a similar vein, it was the goal of Beme to reshape social media so people could share their video experiences in a candid, unfiltered and totally accessible way. It’s this candid nature of social channels that has become a key part of cultural movements not possible before – from the Arab world to the most recent American election. For those seeking authenticity in 2016, they’re not turning on the TV.

Tweet questioning CNN's Beme acquisition

Purchasing Beme isn’t as revolutionary as the launch of CNN, but it shows the brand understands the urgent need for relevancy. The challenge for Neistat and team is to prove CNN is personally valuable, genuinely participatory, and culturally reflective.

It’s something we tell all of our clients. First, great work works when it’s connected to culture. And second, for the most, part nobody cares about your brand – you have to earn the right to be paid attention to.

CNN is taking a bold step to earn that attention once again. Is this the beginning of the next news and social media revolution? What happens next will be worth watching.

[Note: This post originally appeared on LinkedIn.]

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