Recently, there is a lot of talk about organic reach and the ever-changing game when immersed in social networks. How do we manage and control our content and outreach?
The social network platform has increasingly become a content and advertising platform to be reckoned with, at least from the perspective of the network owners, the sheer volume of users, and perhaps some companies themselves. Social networks can be immediately fun, social, adventurous, and at the same time, distracting and time-wasting, depending on what you do, and how they affect others. But one thing is certain, marketers are trapped in a manner that they cannot ignore social networks in a holistic marketing strategy, and sometimes find it hard to explain it away even if social networks may not really make sense in the constraints of their organizations.
Social networks are also ever-changing, whether in terms of back-end technologies, the user interfaces (UIs), the plugins/widgets, analytics, and even algorithms. Thanks to Geoffrey Colon, and further commentaries from Jeff Doak and David F Carr, we now need to grapple with how the algorithm change at Facebook would affect our content and social network strategies and delivery.
Let us as business owners and executives first empathize that some social networks are set up as businesses and not charities, with stakeholders requiring decent returns on investment, just as ours do. Therefore, it is not unimaginable that social networks must find ways to leverage what they have to the maximum to gain the maximum financial or some equitable returns. This sometimes means advertising, and some other times, changing the playing field to suit their offerings better.
Having said that, how then, can we grow and extend our organic reach to our stakeholder base of media, partners, customers, prospects and so on, without an over-reliance on singular social networks?
Think like a media owner.
Many years ago, I was interviewed by a media and subsequently put up the clip on my website. I was told to remove the clip, and asked to pay a rather large "fee". I understand their business decision, even though there was no financial consideration paid to me as a content expert, nor was there a mutually signed waiver of rights. Nonetheless, after that incident, I no longer put up any clips even though I am the content owner to my intellectual expertise, and only grant interviews where explicitly I retain ownership to my expressed expert perspectives. And since then, I generate my own content, on my own properties, to share with my customers. It is a direct relationship I treasure, just as media owners treasure their direct relationships with their users.
In the same vein, businesses need to retain ownership of their precious content, however trivial it may seem. I am not talking about litigation. I am specifically talking about creating content of your own, and propagating it. In short, think and act like a media owner, rather than a mere minor player in a large pond of someone else. Learn from the best of the large media companies.
Many large media companies have succeeded in retaining control of their ever-growing content, without being constrained by the rules of technology providers.
For example, if one has specific needs to target directly to customers, and have resources that are better used or spent elsewhere, the web app presents a decent and useful platform rather than targeting specific native platforms. After all, there is increasing data to show that mobile bandwidth availability is scaling up everywhere, and smartphones and tablets are becoming staple on-the-go devices rather than desktops and even laptops.
Therefore, it still boils down to content. What are we offering to our customers, users and other stakeholders? What can we do better to create content? How can we extend the organic outreach of our content?
There are many ways, from the good old-fashioned good useful written content (always required), to the more audio and visual driven content such as mobile and web video channels. AUdio-only content may have taken a dip, in densely populated areas where long road trips are replaced by darting in and out of metro subways, buses and taxis. So when creating video content, make the audio channels within the video useful as well, whether or not our users choose to view and listen, or just listen.
Build up web properties that we post such audio, visual and textual content often. Business owners can start up with simple blogs (textual content, in conjunction with their corporate web properties). It is not enough to have a few posts and hope for the best. We need a disciplined, well-studied, socially-conscious content team to make such posts grow, and in turn, endear and enlarge our user base. It won't be an easy road, just as all good things in life are, but the efforts will pay off when you do that long enough and good enough, as you leave behind some competitors who simply drop out of the content marathon that we inevitably have to play to succeed in a knowledge-driven economy today.
The road is long, you want to reach the end ahead of your competition. Keep running, keep learning, keep sharing.