Why Marketers Need to be Down with OPP (Other People’s Platforms)

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Ben Rubenstein

Sr. Manager, Social Media & Online Community

Are you down with OPP?

social platform publishingSorry, ‘90s rap fans, I’m not talking about the acronym popularized by Naughty By Nature, but one more appropriate for B2B publishers and marketers:  Other People’s Platforms.

For a long time, marketers have been comfortable with using others’ platforms – Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc. – as a way to drive people to content and landing pages they own. But recent developments have forced a change to that way of thinking, as these platforms have taken steps to leverage their dominance in media consumption.

Most major social platforms now offer – and importantly, often give preference to – publishing tools that keep users within their walled gardens instead of pointing to some external domain they don’t control. On Facebook Instant Articles and native videos are creeping into more and more news feeds; LinkedIn users can publish blog posts to be distributed to their networks via Pulse. Even Twitter, a platform tailor-made for linking elsewhere due to its low character limit, may soon allow users to submit much more text (Twitter Moments is also aimed at keeping users on the platform longer). The list goes on. If you’re not yet convinced we’re living in a platform economy, you should be.

What does this mean for content marketers?

It’s easy to see why platforms are heading in this direction, but what does it mean for those of us who create content?

Clearly, publishers need to be prepared to give up some control over how users experience their content. But with the range of devices, apps, aggregators and feeds out there, that was already a given. If your business is dependent on users coming to a specific page on your website, you’re probably already in trouble.

Platform publishing is another big step away from that model, but the result is likely more visibility – and there are other benefits, too. If you’re publishing your content directly on Facebook rather than linking off somewhere else, you’re essentially helping Facebook meet its goals of more users spending more time and attention within the platform. It stands to reason that Facebook will be more motivated to help that content reach the right users. So rather than banging your head against the wall trying to figure out the regularly changing EdgeRank formula, you can potentially benefit from Facebook’s own knowledge (and deep customer insights) to earn more attention in the News Feed.

A good example of how this can work is the Amazon.com Marketplace. While Amazon is often vilified for taking business away from small local businesses, those same businesses often also sell their wares through Amazon’s platform. The reason is simple: If Amazon is where the customers are, then that’s where these businesses should be, too. In exchange for increased prominence for their products, they give up some revenue, but the trade-off is worth it if the alternative is no business at all.

5 best practices for social platform publishing

The challenge from a marketing perspective is figuring out how to build your business on someone else’s terms and turf. Here are a few ideas for approaching social platform publishing:

#1 – Choose your platform(s) carefully

Get to know where your audience lives by looking at where your content is shared and what social platforms drive the most traffic to your content (and especially what leads to the most conversions).

#2 – Find the opportunities with your content

What content types are those platforms giving preference to? For example, videos uploaded to Facebook are getting much more visibility in the News Feed than linked videos – so consider building a version of your video specifically for Facebook, with a call to action to those users who engage there. Got a new blog post? Test out a version of it on LinkedIn Pulse to see how it performs vs. your own post, making sure you’re not duplicating content that will compete with your site.

#3 – Nurture the relationship

When users engage, don’t immediately try to push them to your site. Instead, have a real discussion on the platform (answer a question, offer more quality content) to build trust before taking the next step.

#4 – Offer a real incentive

If users are going to leave an experience they’re comfortable with to go off to your site, there needs to be a compelling reason. Make sure that the enticement – whether a new whitepaper, a free demo or something else – is right for the target audience. You may need to do extensive testing to find what works best for social conversion.

#5 – Collect information right where you are

Instead of trying to get users to complete a form on your site, you may be able to generate leads directly on the platform. For example, Twitter offers lead-generation cards that create a low-friction way for users to share information directly within a Tweet (though results have been mixed).

The days of owned media are numbered. It’s time to get down with OPP.

 

Social platform publishing image via Shutterstock

amazon, content development, content marketing, Facebook, LinkedIn, social platforms, social publishing, Twitter

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