Stickyness and Channel Strategy
People often ask us, the people behind CleverLions and SmartOcto, the 64.000 dollar question: should I serve my audience content in the socials channels, or do I try to get them to my own website? Or in general, do I acknowledge the intrinsic worth of platforms that I do not own or should I treat them as promotion opportunities?
The Devilish dilemma
A lot of editors and content marketeers struggle with that question, and that is because there is no golden rule that works for everybody. It is a devilish dilemma: other platforms may have the audience to build upon, but you depend on another company to connect with your clients. With the rise of Facebooks instant articles this discussion is as relevant as it ever was.
The key to solve this puzzle is ‘stickiness’.
Media history starts primarily with ‘sticky channels’, platforms that attract people with the promise of a continuous flow of content. Good examples are newspapers, magazines, radio and television. You don’t usually buy them because of one excellent story, but because they contain relevant stories on a regular basis.
This changed with the birth of the Internet, when people felt that the content channels became more democratized. In the early days of the web the dominant marketing term that described this mindset was ‘sticky content’. It was believed by the gurus to be the holy grail of digital content strategy; to create and sell content so compelling that people came to your own website or service to consume that. And the fact that your digital hotspot became the place to be, the next sticky channel even, created enormous value. Many e-zines (remember?) and blogs tried to achieve that goal.
In the mean time, other companies created their own sticky places to invite people to upload their content on their platform, and gather an audience with an abundance of content; YouTube was one of the early ones, but all the social channels have since tried that scheme. With huge successes like Facebook, Instagram, Vine and the latest release of SnapChat.
And the people formerly known as the audience? Today they consider themselves as ‘sticky’. They live in (social) channels and devices that are personalized so well, that they expect media companies to come to them and deliver relevant content at their doorstep. With all the technological advances in the information age, they are the magnets.
What does this mean for your business? In general you could say that it is easier to deliver content to channels with a big personalised audience, giving you the reach your need. . But if you have a more specific business model, where you want to get customers deeper into your sales funnel, it is difficult to convert that reach into real impact. You don’t control the data, the full relationship or the money.
Moreover, it is easier to get people out of sticky channels into your own home when you are a big brand, or when your content is sticky and awesome, or the target group is very specific. You cannot expect people to come to you otherwise. They simply won’t.
Try this at home
So, it depends on your goals, on your strategy. Do you want reach or branding, or are you in the engagement business? Try a real omnichannel approach riding all the waves simultaneously. Do you want close and unique relationships with clients? Go for referrals with great snippets, unique content and actionable links. To make the right decision, walk through the following diagram. Good luck!