The Online Basecamp

Never underestimate your website.

Cover photo: @jerrysilfwer

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Every brand needs to pri­or­it­ise its online basecamp.

This post will dis­cuss why your organ­isa­tion might bene­fit from shift­ing its focus away from social media and onto the brand’s website.

  • Many organ­isa­tions over­es­tim­ate their social media impact and under­es­tim­ate their web­site’s efficiency.

Here we go:

The Online Basecamp

I’ve been devis­ing pro­fes­sion­al brand strategies for over a dec­ade and am in awe of social medi­a’s power. It’s a cul­tur­al melt­ing pot of ideas and expres­sions on a glob­al scale.

But as PR pro­fes­sion­als, we’d be wise to remem­ber that social media is a mass phe­nomen­on. Few brands enjoy the suc­cess often asso­ci­ated with influ­en­cers.

In the cor­por­ate uni­verse, it’s digit­al-first.
Not neces­sar­ily social media first.

A brand’s web­site — its online base­camp — is often under­used, under­es­tim­ated, and under­ap­pre­ci­ated.

But it shouldn’t have to be that way.

Rethinking Social Media

Social media has been a pri­or­ity for many organ­isa­tions for many years. But digit­al-first is more than just social media. And, let’s face it: social media doesn’t work for all organ­isa­tions alike.

A brand’s web­site should be its online base­camp, a place for like-minded people to brain­storm, test ideas, put up your roadmaps, and review logs.

But web­site pub­lish­ing is seen as boring.

Social media, on the oth­er hand, keeps us on our toes. Networks like YouTube, TikTok, Twitch, Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Snapchat keep us on our toes, and they have a knack for dom­in­at­ing our newsfeeds.

But the truth is that very few brands do well in social media.

Social Media PR Challenges

Social media pub­lish­ing for brands comes with sig­ni­fic­ant PR drawbacks:

  • Lack of con­trol. Brands often have little to no con­trol over the brand exper­i­ence in social media. Engaging with a brand on a social net­work like Facebook will mean that Facebook pre­scribes the exper­i­ence. If your cor­por­ate mes­sage doesn’t fit with Facebook’s brand exper­i­ence, then you must change your message.
  • Indirect busi­ness rela­tion­ships. Social media typ­ic­ally offers only indir­ect busi­ness rela­tion­ships with the audi­ence. While a brand can bene­fit from cul­tiv­at­ing a social brand audi­ence, the social net­work will bene­fit more at no risk. Social net­works are “rigged” like most forms of organ­ised gambling — the house always wins.
  • The rules are con­stantly chan­ging. Whatever the social net­work decides, wheth­er to remove or pro­mote cer­tain types of con­tent or make changes to your vis­ib­il­ity, the web will push brands to cre­ate whatever the net­work needs — instead of the con­tent a spe­cif­ic brand audi­ence wants.
  • People are inter­ested in people. Few brands can com­pete in social media com­pared to influ­en­cers. This is mainly because people prefer to inter­act with oth­er people. It’s not for noth­ing that we call this space social media. While a brand can be social, it’s not easy for it to come across like a real person.

List of Social Media Issues

Social media issues.
Social media issues.
Spin Academy | Online PR Courses

List of Social Media Issues

Social media isn’t just sun­shine and rain­bows. With massive change come new social media issues we must deal with.

Here are a few examples of social media issues:

Read also: Social Media: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

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Seeking a Pragmatic Approach

If social media mar­ket­ing works for you, that’s great.

However, social media mar­ket­ing doesn’t work for lots of brands. They could prob­ably do much bet­ter if they shif­ted their focus away from social media and dir­ec­ted those resources to their website.

Because com­plain­ing about social media won’t give you results.

Neither search engines nor social net­works are known to give in to user demands; either you play by the social net­work’s rules or don’t play at all.

Of course, any brand can lever­age the full power of social media. But too many brands can­not suc­ceed at once. Even if many more brands did great on social media, there wouldn’t be enough human atten­tion.

Pragmatism is crit­ic­al for brands. We must lever­age all dif­fer­ent media chan­nels so that they a) make busi­ness sense and b) work in tan­dem with spe­cif­ic formats.

PR Must Rethink Website Publishing

I star­ted blog­ging before it was cool, and I kept blog­ging well past the hype days — and I’m still at it. I wouldn’t trade hav­ing a fully con­trolled online pres­ence for any­thing. And neither should you.

Website pub­lish­ing extends well bey­ond what we typ­ic­ally think of as blog­ging.

Because here’s the thing:

Websites are uniquely flex­ible. One single web­site can sim­ul­tan­eously accom­mod­ate sev­er­al high-level PR strategies on auto­pi­lot. And the entire infra­struc­ture is under your con­trol. Social media mar­ket­ing can’t do this.

And it’s not like we can ignore the power of web­site pub­lish­ing for too long, either.

We need online base­camps to accom­mod­ate inbound audi­ences, argu­ably the most sig­ni­fic­ant paradigm shift for the PR industry in decades:

We must redis­cov­er inbound communications.

Inbound Communications

Jerry Silfwer speaking about inbound marketing
Jerry Silfwer (Doctor Spin) speaks about inbound marketing.
Spin Academy | Online PR Courses

Inbound vs Outbound

The inbound mind­set is a fun­da­ment­al shift in the PR- and mar­ket­ing industry.

Historically, many PR- and mar­ket­ing depart­ments have argued:

Why should we spend our PR- and mar­ket­ing budgets on ‘already acquired’ audiences?”

The truth is — it’s the oth­er way around.

Instead of “spam­ming” non-exist­ing audi­ences, pub­lic rela­tions and mar­ket­ing can do much more with exist­ing online pub­lics. 1Silfwer, J. (2015, June 11). The Publics in Public Relations. Doctor Spin | The PR Blog. https://​doc​tor​spin​.net/​p​u​b​l​i​c​s​-​i​n​-​p​u​b​l​i​c​-​r​e​l​a​t​i​o​ns/

Drawing a line between those who know you and those who don’t know you is noth­ing new:

  • Pull mar­ket­ing vs push mar­ket­ing
  • Hot leads vs cold leads
  • Permission mar­ket­ing vs tra­di­tion­al marketing
  • Internal com­mu­nic­a­tions vs extern­al communications

This inbound shift is the online equi­val­ent of draw­ing the line between those who know you and those who don’t know you:

  • Inbound com­mu­nic­a­tions vs out­bound communications

If your Inbound Shift PR Strategy is good, you might not need to pri­or­it­ise out­bound PR strategies — because your inbound audi­ence will attract out­bound publics.

Learn more: The Inbound Shift PR Strategy: Beauty From Within

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You Need an Online Basecamp

As the paradigm of inbound mar­ket­ing entered the online uni­verse, it has been proven that many brands must rely on “pub­lish­ing a con­tinu­ous stream of new content.”

Is blog­ging the best way to describe a con­tinu­ous stream of new content?

Some like to call their web­site streams news­rooms. Some call them blogs. Some call them con­tent hubs. Some don’t call them anything.

I’ve star­ted refer­ring to cli­ents’ web­sites as their online base­camp.

The online base­camp is one of the few con­trolled envir­on­ments to which a brand can always revert if a social net­work sud­denly changes the rules of engagement. 

An online base­camp can host sev­er­al strategies and serve as a com­munity for like-minded people. In this com­munity, all mem­bers of the exped­i­tions ahead can come togeth­er, exchange exper­i­ences, and try out new ideas.

The online base­camp is where you and your team post your roadmaps, review your logs, share ideas, and dis­cuss solu­tions. So far, the base­camp ana­logy has res­on­ated very well with sev­er­al of my clients.

In oth­er words:

If social media isn’t a good fit for your organ­isa­tion, stop banging your head against the wall. Shift your focus to the brand web­site, your online base­camp, instead.

Signature - Jerry Silfwer - Doctor Spin

Thanks for read­ing. Please sup­port my blog by shar­ing art­icles with oth­er com­mu­nic­a­tions and mar­ket­ing pro­fes­sion­als. You might also con­sider my PR ser­vices or speak­ing engage­ments.

PR Resource: PR Blogs

Doctor Spin's list of PR blogs (2024).
Doctor Spin’s list of PR blogs (2024).
Spin Academy | Online PR Courses

Doctor Spin’s List of PR Blogs

PR blogs come and go, and some seem to go on and on — I should know. I keep this list updated with act­ive blogs on pub­lic rela­tions and com­mu­nic­a­tions (2024).

Do you know of an act­ive PR blog that should be included in this list. Please con­tact me!

Learn more: Doctor Spin’s List of PR Blogs

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ANNOTATIONS
ANNOTATIONS
1 Silfwer, J. (2015, June 11). The Publics in Public Relations. Doctor Spin | The PR Blog. https://​doc​tor​spin​.net/​p​u​b​l​i​c​s​-​i​n​-​p​u​b​l​i​c​-​r​e​l​a​t​i​o​ns/
Jerry Silfwer
Jerry Silfwerhttps://doctorspin.net/
Jerry Silfwer, alias Doctor Spin, is an awarded senior adviser specialising in public relations and digital strategy. Currently CEO at Spin Factory and KIX Communication Index. Before that, he worked at Kaufmann, Whispr Group, Springtime PR, and Spotlight PR. Based in Stockholm, Sweden.
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The Cover Photo

The cover photo isn't related to public relations; it's just a photo of mine. Think of it as a 'decorative diversion', a subtle reminder that there is more to life than strategic communication.

The cover photo has

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