The exponential growth of online channels is like watching the explosion of TV networks in fast forward, on crack-laced steroids. So, how can you possibly buoy your marketing strategy to remain intact with all these never-ending changes? I believe the answer is by not going further down the rabbit hole, but rather by going back to the core and thinking beyond social media or traditional marketing.
The Fall of Giants
I recently wrote about the fall of Facebook, and the same thinking can be applied to almost any channel. Just as AOL and MySpace had their meteoric rise and subsequent fall – we still haven’t seen a network endure the test of time. Granted, it may be too early to tell, but just as our parents listened to a different kind of music than we do, the younger generation will choose to interact with their friends on a different platform then us. Such is the cycle of innovation and adoption.
Sooner or later, Twitter may morph into something different, YouTube may give way to a mobile-based video sharing concept – and you’re left with a shell of a community you put so much effort into building. KEY POINT: None of our current selection of social networks may be around in 2 or 3 years (at least in their current iteration).
Retreat to Homebase
Chris Brogan, a while ago, wrote about his framework of Homebase and Outposts – basically outlining that the assets WE control (our website, blog or newsletter database) should be part of our homebase and that assets third parties control (twitter, facebook, YouTube, etc) should be considered outposts, places where we connect with others. That same framework can still be applied today, only I believe, now more then before, it’s time to seriously reconsider your marketing strategy and start pulling those connections back.
Rather then relying on a third party, which may change, be acquired or cease to exist, we should focus on using those “outposts” in order to bring our earned connections back home. This way, the onus (and the reward) is on you to nurture and retain those relationships, on your own territory. KEY POINT: Rather then investing heavily into a presence that is out of our control, invest in making your website / blog / database a compelling entity people want to come back to.
Strategy = longevity
Quite often, we fall into the trap of tactical thinking. We want to see gains quickly in order to prove ROI and perhaps sell social to the leadership. However, this approach has the propensity to hurt our business in the long AND medium run. Without a clear connection back to our core marketing objectives, tactics (such as a Facebook contest) can make us stray off course in a very ADHD-like fashion.
When it comes to social media specifically, most organizations are still struggling with exactly what to measure and how those measurements relate to business goals. For example, can you explain to your leadership team how a number of replies on Twitter correlates to an increase in revenue? Most can’t. So my suggestion is to pare back, scale back and have a good powwow with your organization about what exactly is the function of each marketing channel and how does it help achieve the REAL business objectives. Whatever doesn’t make sense – cut it. Also remember that each of these channels may have a lifecycle, so it’s perfectly logical to use them while it makes sense.
Thinking strategically boils down to understanding where you are right now, where would you like to be 3 or 5 years from now and then making sure that each piece of marketing or business development works towards that one goal. KEY POINT: Each tactical event must contribute to the core business objective in a real and measurable way.
The marketing landscape of today will be much different 5 years down the road with apps, networks and hardware we can’t even imagine right now. The only way to intelligently navigate these changes is to invest in a presence that is under your control and utilize whatever channel makes sense at the time to reach a new audience, perform customer service or practice thought leadership. When it no longer makes sense – drop it and move on, just like swinging to the next monkey-bar.
If I were to divide a $100 unit of time, I would allocate:
$50 – maintenance and improvement of my homebase
$30 – engagement on current social and digital channels
$10 – digital PR outreach (bloggers & communities)
$10 – experimenting with new channels
How would you divide it up?
– Ernest // Follow me on Twitter