It’s Not About Social Networks

Still the king.

At a recent client meeting Google+ came up in conversation.  The client asked: “Do we need a strategy for Google+ yet?”

I started to answer, but then I stopped myself.

“No,” I finally said.  “You don’t.  You don’t need specific strategies for social networks.  They are channels and at the end of the day channels don’t matter.”

The client looked at me like I had two heads.  But let me explain.

Channels are only as good as the content within them.  Do you think people specifically tune into ABC or NBC or FOX?  That the majority of people are loyal to a broadcast channel?  Or do most people tune into shows that they like?  Shows that entertain or inform them?  They might develop an affinity for a specific channel, but only because of the content on it.

For example.  I enjoy NFL football, the three-time world champion New England Patriots to be specific.  This past Monday night, I watched them on ESPN as they were featured on the network’s Monday Night Football.  But I would have watched the Patriots game on whatever channel it had been broadcast on.  I don’t care about the channels.  I want the game.

So I would have gone to whatever channel was necessary to get the content I wanted.

And the NFL is now doing what ALL brands should be doing which is putting content on every channel that it can.  The NFL has games being broadcast online, on its own cable channel and on various cable and TV networks.  It also produces content that appears on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and on its own websites.

The NFL has the added bonus on having its broadcast partners doing the same thing – saturating every channel with news, commentary, features and interactivity surrounding the games and the analysis before and after them.

When I watched the game on ESPN, I could watch highlights in near real-time online, hop onto discussion boards, download photographs, get sideline updates on Twitter, participate in polls and talk with my friends about every play on Facebook, Google+ and other social networks.

The NFL is lucky – they have extremely popular content.  But every brand and business needs to think about content strategies – not channel strategies.  The channels are always going to change and evolve (look at what happened to network news shows and newspapers when they became too enmeshed in their channels.  They thought that the channel was the product rather than the content – news reporting and analysis).

Don’t fall into that trap.

Think about content and ways to spread it.  Make the content compelling, informative and entertaining.  Think about how to share it and what channels make the most sense for you and your brand.

Because in the age of the Social Web and connectivity it isn’t about any specific social network.  It’s not about Facebook or Twitter or Google+.  It isn’t about your corporate blog or your website.  It is about ALL of it working together – offline and online.  All of it merging into a content strategy.

Ultimately, you want to connect and interact with your customers and prospects and use your content to get them to try your products and services and develop a loyalty to it.

That’s what it’s about.

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