Quite a furor arose this past week when it was announced Vic Gundotra was leaving Google. Not only had he been in a leadership role at Google for 8 years but also Google+ was his progeny.
Immediately the link-bait headlines emerged with the death toll ringing for Google+. Even as other voices in Google, including those directly involved with G+ sounded in that the “ship was even keel”, there was continued distress over what might become of the new bellwether social network.
To begin, this is the new normal for social networks. As a new channel of technology these platforms are in absolute infancy and will pivot, ebb and flow and evolve over time. This will bring both some anticipated and alternately, surprising change. Everything from mergers and acquisitions to bold platform changes such as Facebook’s suggestion it may split its platform into individual apps and tools. Likewise this Google+ news, which leaves its current status uncertain.
Key here to insuring you have a solid framework for your digital presence is making sure not to choose any social network as home base for your online activities. This is not to suggest social media is not valuable, but it should not be at the core of your online identity. When designing (or-reconfiguring) your digital business and marketing plan, it begins with the media you own. Namely your web site and blog.
Owned and Earned Media
There are three components to the modern digital content strategy – owned, earned and paid media. The latter being advertising, we’ll save that for a separate discussion. You have the ability to control owned and earned directly without requiring an advertising component.
Owned media is built on the channels you directly manage, including that web site and blog. This gives you longevity as you are not reliant on a third party to facilitate your content (i.e. Google+). Earned media is where social networks come into view and is in essence controlled by your audience and clients. This is where you share and amplify your visibility, build influence, and seek further distribution by that audience. You can build buzz and in some cases have viral success with your campaigns.
Remember, don’t build your house on social media sand. With all the changes to social networks, your digital hub is more important than ever!
-Stephanie Sammons, Wired Advisor Founder
Put as much energy, resources and investment into making it modern, engaging and a destination as you will later into a particular set of social networks.
This insures your business and brand identity along with your valuable original content is secured at a destination that only answers to you. From the domain name, to the web site framework you choose (i.e. WordPress et al) – you are in control.
Once you have this hub assembled and ready for business, then you can build out a social media strategy leveraging social as a syndication and amplification tool. From this perspective you are in the driver’s seat with social networks as a means to an end – to cultivate the opportunity for visibility and relationship-building.
After all, as a content creator seeking to carve out credibility, you won’t be using social media as a noise maker. While that approach can claim short term boosts, long-term, the excitement will fade without genuine, quality value and engagement.
Returning to owned and earned media, let’s explore an outline for a simple workflow. This highlights the concept of owned and earned media, illustrating how you might (or should) be distributing content today.
It starts with each new blog post, from publication on your blog to several steps taken to syndicate that content for greater distribution, furthering your competitive moat that differentiates you from others online.
- Publish post on blog
- RSS to email campaign picks this up and emails to those on your opt-in lists who have subscribed to be informed of your updates
- Post is manually shared or scheduled to go out to all of your social media profiles as a “status update” where it gains visibility
- Receivers of the email and those who see your post shared on social networks can click to view in its entirety on your hub
- When your audience shares either the email you’ve sent or the link to your post that you’ve shared in social networks, it crosses over into earned media – you have the ability to earn engagement in social networks, new connections and followers, and traffic to your digital hub
- Repurposing that post content into other mediums like presentations, podcast episodes or video then enables you to share across specialized networks like Slideshare, iTunes and YouTube and earn more engagement, followers, and traffic
By taking this view of how social networks factor into your overall digital strategy, you are not a prisoner to the, for the foreseeable future, frequent and potentially disruptive changes that will occur outside of your digital hub. You stay in control of the digital properties that you own.
Below is a visual architecture of the financial advisor digital portfolio with owned media as the central hub and earned media outside of, but tightly integrated with the hub: