The Online Basecamp

Your website is more important than your social media accounts.

Cover photo by Jerry Silfwer (Instagram)

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.

I find that too many organisations overestimate social media and underestimate their websites.

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 much 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:

Examples of Social Media Issues

Social media ain’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.

Inbound Marketing and Outbound Marketing - Doctor Spin - The PR Blog
The difference between inbound and outbound.

Instead of focusing on trying to spawn non-existing audiences, PR can do so much more with existing online publics.

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 PR Strategy

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.

Thank you for reading this article. Please consider supporting my work by sharing it with other PR- and communication professionals. For questions or PR support, contact me via [email protected].

Jerry Silfwer
Jerry Silfwerhttps://www.doctorspin.net/
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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