The Online Basecamp

Your website is more important than your social media accounts.

Cover photo: @jerrysilfwer

Every brand needs to pri­or­it­ise its online basecamp.

I’ve been devis­ing pro­fes­sion­al brand strategies for over a dec­ade, and I’m in awe of the power of social media. 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 actu­ally enjoy the type of 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.

This post will do its best to provide you with sev­er­al argu­ments as to why your organ­isa­tion might be wise to shift its focus away from social media and onto the brand’s web­site instead.

Let’s get into it:

It Might Be Time To Rethink 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 come togeth­er, test ideas, put up your roadmaps and go over logs.

But web­site pub­lish­ing is seen as boring.

  • Many organ­isa­tions over­es­tim­ate social media and under­es­tim­ate their website.

Social media, on the oth­er hand, keeps us on our toes. Social 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 … 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 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 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. Compared to influ­en­cers, few brands are able to com­pete in social media. This is mainly because people prefer to inter­act with oth­er people. It’s not for noth­ing we call this space social media. While it’s pos­sible for a brand to be social, it’s not easy for a brand to come across like a real person.

Social Media Can Be Pretty Bleak

List of Social Media Issues

Examples of Social Media PR Issues

Social media isn’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

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Resistance is Futile

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 rules of the social net­work — or you don’t play at all.

Of course, it’s pos­sible for any brand to lever­age the full power of social media. But it’s not pos­sible for too many brands to suc­ceed at once. Even if many more brands did great on social media, there simply wouldn’t be enough human atten­tion to go around.

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.

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. 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/

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

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

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

💡 Subscribe and get a free ebook on how to get bet­ter PR ideas.

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 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 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.

The Cover Photo

The cover photo has nothing to do with public relations, of course. I share for no other reason that I happen to enjoy photography. Call it an “ornamental distraction”—and a subtle reminder to appreciate nature.

The cover photo has


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