On a college campus, there are typically four main non-monetary “currencies” students trade: alcohol, sex (potential or actual), social (parties and friends), academics (tutoring and “connections”). The degree to which an organization controls these currencies determines its power and influence on campus life.
If you have ever wondered why Greek organizations (fraternities and sororities) have outsized power in campus life, it’s because at many campuses they provide the venue, organization, and access to the first three currencies…alcohol, sex, and social.
How influential is the climbing club on campus? Or the young entrepreneurs club? Or any other similarly sized organization? Not very. Why? At best, they possess access two only currencies: social and academic So what does this have to do with your organization’s website strategy?
This past week my Twitter account (@frankmcclung) was (and still is as I write this) temporarily restricted due to alleged “unusual activity” on my account. I’m not a particularly consistent nor controversial tweeter, so this came as a surprise. I do use Twitter to communicate undeveloped ideas and convey information I find interesting. Twitter isn’t business-critical, but it certainly helps me connect to my audience. Now that network connection point has been removed and is proving difficult to get back from Twitter.
The restriction of my Twitter account reminded me how powerful social media entities have become to business operations regardless of size. Social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and YouTube control access to a network of people and organizations you can’t find anywhere else in the digital space. Yes, conferences and associations exist for professions and industries, but up until COVID 2020, those specialized networks revolved around physical conferences, print publications, and newsletters.
If your organization’s marketing and communications rely on access to social networks you don’t own or control, then your business is vulnerable to the whims of their policy changes, algorithms shifts, stockholder influenced decisions and general fortunes. They have complete control over your access to networks you are cultivating for client relationships and communication. They can shut down or suspend that access anytime they want and you’ll have little recourse. (In Twitter’s case, it can take days to get a response from their support about a suspended account. I’m still waiting.).
Your organization’s website should be the core of your social network strategy, not the giant social media platforms. How do you rebalance the social network power away from social media giants?
- Make sure your organization is investing strategically and regularly in the digital assets you own and control like your organization’s website, email list, and customer relations management system.
- Develop your specialized community and network like Kyle Bowen at Superhelpful.com has done for museums and cultural organizations with MightyNetworks as a tool. Make use of free software like Slack and Zoom to facilitate your conversations.
- Evaluate your existing website to determine if it supports network building and begin making changes now to ween your business off large social networks.
- Publish your organizational expertise regularly on your website.
Make a plan in 2020 to move your organization to become less dependent and more independent of these platforms starting with your website.
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