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Mar 14 The Dawn of the Multi-Channel Network (MCN)

While the Multi-Channel Network isn't generally new, it's new to the influencer marketing industry.


Every marketer is always looking to capitalize on the next biggest and best thing to come along. In social media, the evolutionary line started with Facebook, then Twitter, and has become the Instagrams, Vines, and Snapchats of the world. Within the conversations surrounding these networks comes the marketing jargon BINGO game we’ve all become accustomed to: brand engagement, page views, influencers, bloggers, etc. Get ready to add another noun to the game: multi-channel network, or MCN (this term has been around for a few years, but has just started gaining traction in influencer communities).

What is an MCN?

The simple answer here is that no one knows quite what an MCN is, what it does, or how to utilize it for their marketing strategy. Think back to 2007 when Facebook dropped the “the” and started morphing into the marketing platform it is today. We didn’t really know what it would become back then.

The long answer is multi-channel networks represent popular influencers, currently just YouTube stars from what we can tell, and package it for marketers to use in their campaigns and promotions in exchange for a slice of the generated revenue. The term was coined by former YouTube employees Jed Simmons, to alleviate the sour taste left behind by referring to the video platform as a network.

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The History

Simply put, MCNs are nothing new and have actually been around for quite some time. We’re just seeing the next evolutionary step; putting a name to the idea. Looking at Carusele and Ignite Social Media’s own backgrounds, you can see a case study on how these networks have operated and engaged audiences in the past. A good example is the Walmart Moms blogger platform. The network met the market demand for mothers who were looking to cut costs around the house, which coincidently is Walmart’s positioning in the market: “Save money. Live better.”

The same can be said for blogger networks like Blogher and Party Bluprints. As the internet and social media evolved, so did the demand for more specialized content. Blogher met that demand by establishing themselves as a blogging network that packages the hottest and newest news and social media trends geared toward women in a one-stop spot. Party Bluprints does the same with those looking for a go-to source for entertaining. Looking at these networks, there are two obvious factors that go into creating an MCN: audience and content production. The network produces the content to meet the demands of the audience.

Content Producers > Platforms

All marketers strive to drive engagement in whatever media they specialize. Trade publications, news, and social media all target content to audiences of varying interest and sizes. Where MCNs break the model is that they are network agnostic, putting a premium on the content producer and the content produced ahead of the platform. A perfect case study on this is the transition of Jerrome Jarr from a Vine to a Snapchat star. His marketability comes not from his use of a platform, but in his ability to generate engagement despite what network he is on. Looking through this lens, in its current state, YouTube isn’t an MCN because they put the network ahead of the specific channel or publisher. Same with other influencer networks.

Carusele works in a different way with its Content Everywhere™ approach, making paid, organic, and engaged media that marketers can utilize for scaled, high-quality, native social programming that engages audiences across social channels. This means that instead of having a Facebook post exist in its native form, that post is a piece of the engagement puzzle, which includes (potentially) Twitter, Vine, Instagram, blogs, Snapchat, et al. Carusele is a true multi-channel network.