Thursday, January 26, 2012

Where's your social media basecamp? Reasons to stake a claim

Do you know where you basecamp lies in social media?

I don't mean your base of followers (although they should be visiting that camp frequently). I mean where you base yourself, whether you're a company, solo entrepreneur, university, nonprofit or government agency. Where can I go to be sure I'm not missing anything from you?  Must I follow you in five places to do that? And I'm not talking about your website, but your social presence.

I got this question from a reader on The Eloquent Woman on Facebook, an ancillary presence for my blog on women and public speaking. "I want to be sure I don't miss anything--should I follow this and the blog?" she asked. I could assure her that if she followed the Facebook page, she'd see everything that was on the blog--because in my content strategy, my blogs are my basecamp, the places that provide the content for everything else. Sure, I have side discussions on Twitter or my Facebook pages, but often, those get repurposed into new content for the blogs and fed back into the other channels.  Anything substantive that happens to me in social media winds up on my blogs. Anything on my blogs winds up on my social channels.

Another way of thinking about this is to figure out where you want your content to appear first. Where is your publisher of record? After that, the other social networks become ways to amplify what's new and draw users from those networks to your basecamp; they also can be listening posts, where you gather feedback and discuss what emanated from your base. That is, if you need other places to be. Some folks do just fine with a Facebook page alone, for example. But if you do have multiple channels, make sure their roles are clear, and connected to that basecamp.

This isn't new thinking in the social media space, but more and more, I see communicators feeling overwhelmed by the many networks and options available. If you--or your team, or your audience--can't answer the basecamp question, that tells you a strategy needs to be more evident and aforethought. It's not as simple as "We push everything out to all the channels," either. That tells me you haven't really thought this through, and that you're not at all interested in what your readers need, who they are or where they're playing in social spaces. Time to pick and choose, I say.

Choosing and focusing your content strategy on a base has other advantages. It's difficult to develop a strong voice and reputation if your efforts and posts are scatter-shot, but speaking from a base can help you evolve into a source readers know and trust.

Share your social media basecamp in the comments, and, if you wish, why it's working for you. Or do you find a widespread strategy more effective? I'm happy to hear views on all sides.

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