Anti-social DAMs are Killing Your Digital Asset ROI

Most digital asset management (DAM) vendors just don’t seem to understand that, for many DAM users, social media is a more important content distribution goal these days than print, or even downloads. Though virtually every DAM boasts some sort of “file sharing” option, few offer anything as simple and usable as even the social sharing icons we see on websites.

How did DAM vendors miss this? When we want to share DAM-managed files today, our options are limited and largely misguided.

For example, some DAMs offer links that lead back to files inside the DAM. This can be handy, but this is link sharing, not file sharing.

Some DAMs can even be embedded right into Web pages, offering users a bidirectional portal through which files can be found and downloaded. This is another wonderful feature, but the problem here again is that people must visit the DAM (or portal) in order to access whatever has been “shared.”

Those still using DAMs from our industry’s Jurassic period might additionally discover options to output images as Quicktime movies, or even circa 1995 static websites, complete with SEO-hostile frame structures. And as adorable as these trinket features are (in a museum-ready sort of way), they aren’t file sharing either.

The problem with all of these options is that they don’t make content available at the point of consumption. Instead, they require the user to visit the DAM to access files and read metadata.

This isn’t sharing; it’s an invitation.

If you want people to have something, the best thing you can do is deliver it to them. It’s the difference between hosting a neighborhood street party on a gorgeous summer weekend, or standing on the street handing out invitations to a party that’s going on back at your house.

Which party do you think will garner more “I Likes”?

To be fair, back-links to a DAM offer understandable value. On the one hand, you’re generating traffic to the DAM, which we like. In addition, they enable us to update the files behind those links, without having to distribute new links. Perhaps best of all, links can be posted anywhere, and the concept of back-linking is a downright aphrodisiac to anyone concerned about SEO.

When you think about it, link sharing sounds like a perfectly simple solution to a potentially complex problem.

But it’s not.

Social media is about getting content to users on their terms, and within their timeframes. In other words, DAM vendors, if you want me to consume content when I visit my Google+ stream, the best thing you can do is put that content right into my Google+ stream. Don’t ask me to leave my stream to meet you someplace else for the content “hookup.” I’ll leave the party when I’m good and ready, and not a moment before.

Content embedded into a social stream yields a much greater impact than a link back to your DAM.

Sure, it would be easy for me to click on your little DAM-direct link, but my clicking finger might be exhausted that day. More importantly, my social stream is like a walled garden to me. It’s a place I like to be. Don’t ask me to leave.

Do you see where I’m going with this? I’m self-absorbed and my time for you is limited, largely because I’m so self-absorbed. I get that you have something new that you want me to see, but I’m following Jeri Ryan on Google+, and she just uploaded photos from her dinner date with her Dad. Do you think I’m going to leave Google+ to see your stupid infographic when I’m just a few clicks away from seeing the man who fathered the world’s most beautiful Borg?

DAM vendors need to comply with, and properly adapt to, social media. (No Borg pun intended.) We shouldn’t be tossing around URLs and calling that “social media support,” or even file sharing. It’s neither.

DAMs need to fully embrace social networks, leveraging the individual strengths of each, and overcoming their weaknesses too. Granted, it’s a lot to ask of DAM vendors to track all of these idiosyncrasies and adapt over time as needed, but is there really any other area of DAM development that’s more important today?

Besides, we’re not talking about rocket science here. It needn’t be any more complicated than this: “I want to upload an image to my Twitter account and I want my DAM to make that easy.”

This means:

  • When I’m viewing a digital asset, give me some clue as to how I might get it onto Twitter. (Hint: Use this -> )
  • When I click the icon, give me the option of uploading a properly converted file (if necessary), or adding a link back to the DAM. (Yes, I might still want to link back, but that needs to be my call.)
  • And for the love of all things digital, if I do ask for a link, shorten it for me! Don’t hand me some massive URL that’s going to result in a flood of “the link doesn’t work” messages to me.
  • As for the content of my tweet, use the text inside a DAM metadata field that was intended for this purpose. If the field contains more characters than allowed by my chosen social network (don’t forget to factor in the size of that link!), warn me and let me edit the content as needed. And please do this all without challenging my patience.
  • Let me then schedule when I’d like the post to appear, and give me some means for managing my pending posts.
  • For extra credit, let me see and manage the posts of my team too.

Then, when you’ve made that work with Twitter, make it work with Google+, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest and YouTube. Yes, I know they’re each different and that it won’t be as easy as it sounds.

But you know what? This is what digital publishing looks like today.

David Diamond is the author of DAM Survival Guide, a digital asset management book that details DAM initiative planning. He also directs global marketing for DAM software vendor Picturepark.