digital-sharecropper
Photo credit: Dex Media

The corporate blog reigns supreme as the focal point in digital public relations and marketing. Standard strategy in digital PR and marketing involves driving web traffic from traditional media and social networks to the corporate blog in hopes of attaining conversions. After all, the organization controls the fully vetted content on the corporate blog.

Now some experts are questioning the precept that the corporate blog is the “home base” for PR and marketing. They point to the advantages of publishing on outside websites and social media networks instead of the corporate blog.

Arik C. Hanson, principal of ACH Communications, points to Dave Kerpen, CEO of Likeable Local. Kerpen is posting much less on his company blog and much more on LinkedIn, Hanson writes (on his own blog). Kerpen established a presence on LinkedIn early, publishing his first post in 2013. He has published 184 posts on LinkedIn (as of last week) and has become a recognized influencer.

Incredibly, one Kerpen post in March, “The 1 Most Impressive Job Interview Question to Ask,” gained more than 700,000 views, over 4,000 likes and over 600 comments. It’s highly unlikely – probably impossible — that he could attain such high numbers on his own blog.

The Blogging Platform

Professional YouTube video producer Hank Green created a huge splash with his post on Medium, a major content syndication site. The post Theft, Lies, and Facebook Video, that blasted Facebook’s video metrics. Green could have posted on his YouTube channel, vlogbrothers, but he probably reasoned that publishing on Medium would attract more attention.

The post, Hanson says, generated more than 2,000 recommendations, over 2,000 likes, and over 80 comments. Many news sites and blogs, including CyberAlert’s blog, cited his comments. He also attracted Facebook’s attention. Facebook product manager Matt Pakes was one of the first to comment.

Others, including marketing experts at HubSpot and Buffer, recommend marketers consider posting on Medium, although not necessarily abandoning their own corporate blogs.

A Possible Trend – Or Not?

It may be too soon to say if those successful posts are part of a general trend or a continuation of the long-running debate between owned media (a blog or website on your own server) and syndication on sites of digital publishers and/or social media networks.

Many digital marketers warn that that publishing your content on a third-party website is a form of digital sharecropping. Like sharecroppers in the past, digital sharecroppers live at the mercy of large landowners. They risk losing control of their content at any time. The network can tweak its terms of service and block, delete or ban their content.

In addition, a network’s audience can change or disappear. Competitors and evolving technologies can destroy networks. Remember MySpace? Even now, some reports say fewer young people are using Facebook. No one can be sure which networks will thrive and benefit content producers over the long run.

“The best we can do is guess. And if we guess wrong, our business goes into a slow and steady decline,” wrote Sonia Simone in copyblogger post.

Rather than betting the farm on sharecropping, those commentators recommend a multichannel approach. That strategy entails:

  • Making your own website a hub of fresh, frequently updated content,
  • Engaging visitors and developing a reputation for adding value,
  • Treating social media sites as outposts where you invite your audience to your own website.

A true multichannel approach, however, treats content syndication and social media networks as more than outposts. Today’s most effective content marketing strategy melds the corporate blog with digital syndication of original content.  Here’s the sequence:

  • Publish engaging content on the corporate blog.
  • Promote the owned content on appropriate social media networks.
  • Revise the corporate blog content and republish it in third-party websites such as Business2Community and Medium, and social networks. Publication on multiple sites is acceptable, but it’s wise to check out each site’s terms.
  • Promote the republished content in social networks (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn Groups).

Many digital publications require an exclusive period for their published content. After that period, most of them allow authors to publish the piece elsewhere including the corporate blog. That enables what might be viewed as an upside-down content marketing strategy: publish first on well-targeted digital publishers or and then publish on the corporate blog. But, be sure to conform with the republishing policies of the publisher where the piece originally appeared.

Carefully watching the changing landscape for digital publishing will help marketers optimize results from content marketing.

Bottom Line: Some content marketing articles have gained outsized attention on third-party networks, considerably more than they would on the author’s corporate blog. However, it’s not certain if posting on rented land is the ideal strategy for most organizations. In today’s digital landscape, the optimal strategy uses the corporate blog, online publishers and social media networks – and uses all of them in multiple ways.

What’s the best content marketing strategy today? Has your organization benefited from sharecropping? Please comment below.

This article was first published on the CyberAlet blog.