The Online Basecamp

Your website is more important than your social media accounts.

Cover photo: @jerrysilfwer

Focus on your online base­camp — cut back on social media.

This post gives you sev­er­al reas­ons to switch your focus away from social media and back to your brand’s website.

I’ve been cre­at­ing pro­fes­sion­al brand strategies for over a dec­ade, and I love social media mar­ket­ing just as much as I love web­site publishing. 

But this isn’t a choice of gen­er­al pref­er­ence: if you feel that a primary focus on social media might not be your brand’s cup of tea — you might be right.

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

But it shouldn’t have to be that way.

Let’s get into it:

It’s Time To Rethink Social Media

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

  • Many organ­isa­tions over­es­tim­ate social media and under­es­tim­ate their website.

A brand’s web­site should be an online base­camp, a place for like-minded people to come togeth­er, test ideas, put up your roadmaps and go over logs.

But web­site pub­lish­ing is seen as boring.

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

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

Social Media PR Challenges

Social media pub­lish­ing for brands comes with quite a few sig­ni­fic­ant PR down­sides as well:

  • Little to no con­trol over the brand exper­i­ence. Engaging with a brand on a social net­work like Facebook will mean that the exper­i­ence is mainly on Facebook. If your cor­por­ate mes­sage doesn’t fit with Facebook’s brand exper­i­ence, then you must change your message.
  • Only indir­ect busi­ness rela­tion­ships with the audi­ence. While a brand can bene­fit from cul­tiv­at­ing a social brand audi­ence, the social net­work in ques­tion will bene­fit more at basic­ally no risk. Social net­works are “rigged” like most forms of organ­ised gambling — the house always wins.
  • The rules of engage­ment are con­tinu­ously 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.

Social Media isn’t the Promised Land

I’m sure that most read­ers recog­nise the chal­lenges I’ve out­lined above. But while I real­ise these chal­lenges, I spend no energy try­ing to change (or com­plain about) those aspects of the media land­scape. And neither should you.

Because there’s no short­age of poten­tial issues with social media:

List of Social Media Issues

Examples of Social Media Issues

Social media aren’t all sun­shine and rain­bows. With massive change come new types of issues we must deal with.

Here are a few examples of social media issues:

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

Neither search engines nor social net­works are known to give in to user demands; com­plain­ing Youtube cre­at­ors have at least been heard to some extent by Google, but organ­ised media pub­lish­ers sure haven’t.

For brands, prag­mat­ism is crit­ic­al. We must lever­age all dif­fer­ent media chan­nels so that they a) make busi­ness sense and b) works in tan­dem with spe­cif­ic formats. It’s about the media mix; don’t cre­ate an unne­ces­sary situ­ation for your brand.

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.

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:

Inbound vs Outbound

The inbound mind­set is a fun­da­ment­al shift in pub­lic rela­tions.

Instead of focus­ing on try­ing to spawn non-exist­ing audi­ences, PR can do so much more with exist­ing online pub­lics. 1See also The Publics in Public Relations (Doctor Spin).

If your inbound PR strategy is good enough, you might not even need an out­bound PR strategy.

Jerry Silfwer speaking about inbound marketing
Jerry Silfwer (Doctor Spin) speaks about inbound marketing.

Read also: The Inbound First PR Strategy: Beauty From Within

Why All Brands 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 put up 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.

Please sup­port my blog by shar­ing it with oth­er PR- and com­mu­nic­a­tion pro­fes­sion­als. For ques­tions or PR sup­port, con­tact me via jerry@​spinfactory.​com.

1 See also The Publics in Public Relations (Doctor Spin).
Jerry Silfwer
Jerry Silfwer
Jerry Silfwer, alias Doctor Spin, is an awarded senior adviser specialising in public relations and digital strategy. Currently CEO at KIX Index and Spin Factory. Before that, he worked at Kaufmann, Whispr Group, Springtime PR, and Spotlight PR. Based in Stockholm, Sweden.

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