Saturday, May 8, 2010

digital marketing: channel strategy

I used to link my Twitter & Facebook status updates – when I updated one, it would automatically push it to the other. I would write “I had the best time last night!” on Facebook, and it would go out to the Twittersphere, and all of my tweets about the latest digital conference were blasted to my Facebook contacts. Off-strat?
There are so many social media platforms and it’s hard to keep track of, let alone maintain, dozens of profiles – social networks, professional networks, blogs, microblogs, lifestreams and most recently, social mapping services. Even Yahoo! and Google now ask for status updates. We want to be everywhere at once, but actually keeping up appearances on all these sites can become complicated and time-consuming.
So we turn to sync – auto-updating Twitter and Facebook with one entry on Plurk. Or we register for services like Quub that update multiple sites at once. 

Channel strategy
Each of us has an online personality manifested by presence on different web channels – Facebook, Multiply, LinkedIn, a blog, etc. And we need to recognize that each channel has (or should have) a different objective. LinkedIn is a professional channel. Facebook, Twitter and YouTube could lean more toward professional or personal, depending on our contacts and how we use the service. But to keep ourselves sane, it helps to figure out what we are doing – and what we hope to achieve – on each site.
Most people are in it purely for personal reasons – connect with friends and broadcast the latest farm acquisition. But as more people turn to the web for professional branding, the lines blur .
What I’ve done is to map out (a) the key platforms where I want to participate, and (b) what kind of communication on each, depending on whether I have, or want to have, more of a personal or professional network on each one.

 Personal vs. Professional 
I finally decided, for example, that Facebook should stay a private channel. It is a site where I interact with a lot of close friends, which isn’t necessarily something I want to expose to a potential employer (theoretically :P). I also have so many notes and photos that have nothing to do with my professional self, not things I want to come out about me on a Google search. So Facebook is just for personal contacts and people I actually know! Most of my Flickr photos are private as well.
Twitter, on the other hand, is supposed to be a professional channel – digital questions and thoughts, Foursquare updates (a grey area – personal details since they’re location-based but also professional for now, since participation is a digital thing?), links to blog posts. Not to say that I don’t shout out to friends and update about other interests (#nyc, #glee, #yankees!) as well. Other professional channels that I want to build on are LinkedIn and Posterous.
Figuring this out has helped me decide what content to post on which site.  

Brand channel strategy 
Brands need to take the time to do this kind of segmentation as well. The line isn’t as clear as Personal vs. Professional, but communication should still change depending on the channel. Simply syncing Twitter, Facebook and a corporate blog with one-size-fits-all content is a terrible strategy. As a consumer, I think that brands that have exactly the same content on Facebook and their corporate blog are lazy. Users should get added value from engaging with a brand on multiple touchpoints. Cross-linking is of course a great practice, but communication can’t end there.
Here are some ideas to get started on strategizing communication on the most basic platforms:
  • Facebook: Take advantage of the community and easily visible reactions to your content. Ask users questions and post things that they can “Like”. Maximize tabs with unique and engaging apps.
  • Twitter: Great for 1:1 conversations and short-form updates about brand, product and industry news. Great way to announce links to new content on other platforms.
  • Corporate Blog: Longer-form content about brand, product, category or industry issues. It is a great way to build credibility within your field.
  • Posterous or Delicious: Re-posts of industry news.
Trial-and-error, but start somewhere 
There are no hard-and-fast rules and I think most brands will have to try several tactics across the board before finding out what really works. But getting out there and trying is what is important.
I read an article today about Boeing’s reaction to a letter from an eight-year-old who volunteered ideas about a plane design. Their initial response was to send him a letter officially saying that they weren’t accepting his suggestion, probably an SOP response formulated by their legal team. People criticized Boeing at first, but they jumped in to the discussion and explained their situation to consumers, “We’re expert at airplanes but novices in social media. We’re learning as we go."

photo by Great Beyondvia PhotoRee


Unknown said...

Great post as well as great thought about digital. Thanks!


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