Three Ways Brands Can Maximize Digital Channels in the Social Media Era

by Gregg on March 31, 2012

Last week, Phil Gerbyshak and I used our blogs to dissect why some brands appear to be neglecting their websites for social media, along with the potential implications. Today, Phil and I are going to conclude this miniseries by providing six tips on how brands can more effectively utilize all available digital channels, including its primary website(s). I’m posting three here at Branding Bricks and Phil is posting three at his blog.

I’ve come to the conclusion that whatever approach is ultimately implemented begins with not just a content strategy, but a content philosophy. Like any philosophical position, it has to be supported by rationale and reason, and it has to have adherents. In other words, it’s not enough to simply mandate policy – an approach has to have buy-in from across the enterprise, not just those who will be implementing it. In short, everyone has to believe in it.

Taken through this lens, then, I submit to you three ways brands more effectively utilize its primary website(s) in the social media era.

  1. All roads lead to Rome. That phrase resonates from ancient times, and the same principle applies. If a brand’s primary website is Rome, then the social media channels it chooses to leverage could each be viewed as roads that lead back to Rome. Rome was the center of the known universe at its height, and so it must be for a brand’s primary website - the place where rich content that solves problems is found. The social media channel, and the engagement, are merely the gateway to that deeper experience with the brand.
  2. The relentless, efficient conquest. Rome conquered most of its known the world, and did so by being efficient and relentless. Brands can apply this to its website(s) by streamlining the content development and approval processes (including legal), so changes can be made more frequently, thus providing something new on a near-constant basis. If your brand views a website update as an event that comes and goes and is quickly forgotten, it’s time to change the philosphy.
  3. The importance of advisory. In many ways, the Roman Senate operated similiarly to our own political system – bills introduced and voted on, impassioned speeches, etc. Truth be told, the emperor had most of the power, reducing the Senate to an advisory role, but consider the importance to the efficiency with which the Roman government operated and apply it to a brand’s primary website(s). For example, many print publications have an editorial board that advises on the content and presentation. Why not create an website board of review, consisting of third parties (customers, vendors, etc.) which can comment periodically throughout the year via electronic survey  - i.e., is the content and presentation remaining true to the brand’s core vision?

I’m a firm believer in the T.A.M.I. principle (Think, Act, Measure, Improve), which is really a philosopical approach to just about anything -including websites. The most important component, in my opinion, is thinking, which is the basis of all philosophy.

Good thinking from the very beginning will benefit a brand’s cross-channel digital experience, including – and especially – target audiences’ website interaction. Lack of thinking will lead to a website in perceived disarray – which is something Phil and I, and probably you, have noticed.

(Image credit to http://apod.nasa.gov/.)

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Phil Gerbyshak March 31, 2012 at 10:52 am

Love the metaphor you used here Gregg – I’d never thought of it that way.

I appreciate your point about advisory a lot. My wife will now be reviewing my articles pre-publish so I don’t make typing errors or repeat words – because I type in bursts. She’s also a good person to review my stuff to make sure it makes sense to someone not in my business because I can get all inside baseball sometimes. Now to find others to help.

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Gregg March 31, 2012 at 11:13 am

Phil: I think the key in ALL digital efforts, i.e., all available channels, is the checks-and-balances piece, because you’re right – there is intense competition to be first, and it’s easy to bang out a post and miss things, even typos, speaking from my own experience. The other thing – and I’ve found this in my day job – is that if you have a team with a strong dynamic, your teammates will see things you don’t, and will correct those things, “push” you to think differently, and even outright disagree with you if necessary. This is healthy, and I have a team that is, in my opinion, second-to-none in this area, and I trust their eye and their opinions implicitly. In other words, we can’t do what we do without that dynamic.

Thanks for the kudos on the metaphor – I’m a history guy, and I tend to think in those terms.

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Kyle Thill March 31, 2012 at 7:56 pm

It’s always good to hear reinforcement directed at working on content “we control.” Can you expand on “so changes can be made more frequently”, can that apply to a blog like ours under our domain, or is it critical that we update our primary pages as well? We are continually adding fresh content to our blog but really are not spending a great deal of time updating the more static web pages.

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Gregg April 1, 2012 at 3:32 pm

Kyle: When it comes to making changes more frequently, what I meant was creating a schedule or some frequency dynamic where copy, image and design approvals are made and all stakeholders, including legal, are part of that process and are thus on the same schedule and know what’s expected of them, and by when. That schedule should be all-encompassing, i.e., in the case of the Toyota-Lift of Minnesota website, content review and updates for the entire site – including the blog but all other areas – are made on that schedule. True, the other areas may not require as frequent updates, but review of that content on a frequent basis may proactively suggest areas that need to be further fleshed out or updated. Such an approach increases the holistic value of the entire site, thereby making it more useful for customers and more appealing for prospects, which can be measured over time.

By the way, congratulations on the 2011 B2BTOTY award!

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Kyle Thill April 1, 2012 at 6:06 pm

Thanks, I’ll make it a point to review/change/update. We’ve always added new information on models that came out, but I’ve never focused a great deal on the core pages once they were launched.

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