Debbie asked me to think about whether a blog should be the social media hub – your epicenter, the place where you’re trying to bring your customers and prospects. Based largely on the comment I left on her blog, here’s what I think. What about you?
It depends on the objectives the company has for its social media efforts.
Maybe Facebook Is Your Hub?
If the objective is to interact with current customers, keeping your product or service top -of-mind and building kinship with the brand, Facebook may in fact be the best hub, given its inherent sociability, ease-of-use, and large audience. However, I’m always troubled by companies putting too much emphasis on Facebook (New England Patriots, Vitamin Water and many others are favoring Facebook over their corporate Web sites/blogs). Do you really want to build your social media program on what amounts to rented land? One terms of service change and your social media program has to scramble.
Maybe a Private Community is Your Hub?
If your social media efforts tilt toward customer service and market research, a private brand community might be the true hub. Something like Communispace or My Starbucks Idea. This is where you might have the best engagement and insight flow. But, these are typically tip of the iceberg communities from a numbers standpoint, and may not have the breadth to really be considered the “hub”.
Paul Gillin (whose blog is excellent) mentioned in the comments that he viewed Twitter as a satellite opportunity, not a hub per se. I agree. I see Twitter as a complementary tool for all the others – with the possible exception of a focused customer support program like @comcastcares or @twelpforce where Twitter is really a post-modern 800 number that has freestanding benefit to the company and its customers.
Yeah, Probably Your Blog
Generally, I do believe a blog is the best hub for most social media efforts. First, because blogs can be significantly more social than most corporate Web sites. Second, because blogs are typically not burdened with all the product info, support info, background info and other semi-useful pages that corporate Web sites need to support that mostly just get in the way. Think of a Christmas tree that didn’t include the crappy ornaments that you got from your parents but feel obligated to hang, but only displays cool ornaments you bought from yourself, or that your kids made. That’s the navigational and information architecture advantage of a blog.
Not to mention that blogs are far superior to corporate Web sites, Facebook pages, and Twitter accounts with regard to inbound marketing. If your social media objective is even tangentially about attracting new customers, the SEO value of the blog alone makes it a suitable hub.
Lastly, the longer-form nature of blogging makes it ideal for developing connections between the company and customers. There is only so much humanization you can do in 140 characters – even in somewhat longer Facebook posts. Sure, you need to have a variety of social media presences to accommodate the usage patterns of your customers and fans. (Great interview here with Steve Rubel about that). But, unlike Rubel I believe you have to have a nucleus for your social media strategy that the other outposts orbit.
All good companies are made up of great people. Social media lets you prove it, and blogs are still the best way to do so. Right?
(photo by yumyumbubblegum)