A digital strategy reliant solely on borrowed media is flawed

August 7th, 2018 Posted by Digital Strategy 0 thoughts on “A digital strategy reliant solely on borrowed media is flawed”

Everyone knows the phrase ‘don’t have all your eggs in one basket’ – it’s just good, old fashioned, common sense. But all too often we see brands choosing to rely heavily on one part of the digital ecosystem in order to reach their target audience.

‘ That’s where they hang out’ they tell us.

In the past I was lucky enough to be introduced to a great way of thinking about digital strategy by Steve Sponder who was at Five By Five at the time. Steve had created a way of working that included the usual areas of Paid, Owned and Earned media – but enhanced them with other aspects as well – namely Networked (traditional PR) and Borrowed.

It’s “borrowed media” that I am particularly thinking of in this current climate, as facebook Faces so much backlash from the public, Google faces fresh accusations of giving access to our gmail, and the use of data is under amazing scrutiny from all angles.

Keeping it very short, Borrowed media refers to tools which we treat as owned, in the way we use them, but we do not own – we simply borrow them from other (usually social media) organisations. For example, the way we use Facebook. Chat medium, broadcast medium, mailing list, video sharing, event calendar, sales platform… you name it, a lot of brands are using Facebook to do this and, probably, many other things.

And like all massive internet titans the chance is there, no matter how small it may seem, for the walls of Zuckerberg’s tower to come crashing down.

AOL, Yahoo!, Beebo, MySpace, Compuserve… We don’t have to think too hard about how once major players in the internet world have been reduced to nothing over short periods of time.

And it’s not just that these mediums can go ‘bust’ overnight – that’s not the massive risk here. It’s way more simple, and scary, than that. They can choose to remove your account, or block your content, or a whole host of other things which we, as consumers (and I include brands in this phrase at this time) can do very little about. Stories of YouTube celebrities having their entire sources of income removed at the drop of a hat are rife online, and it’s all too easy for this to happen to brands in any of these spaces. So while it may seem I’m talking about companies going out of business solely, I am not at all. They just suddenly might wake up one day and take a dislike to what you’re doing and boom! There goes your borrowed media strategy in the blink of an eye.

When Steve introduced me to Borrowed, he showed me the whole mix for his content strategy idea – which he calls PONBE. And the B is surrounded by a P,O,N and E for a reason. Nothing is an island. So don’t treat your strategy as one – even if you do believe firmly it’s the best (only?) way to reach your target audience.

So this isn’t new, and it’s certainly not rocket science. But more of a gentle warning. Don’t rely too heavily on borrowed media. Because like the lawn mower you borrowed from John two doors down a couple of years ago – he’s going to want it back some time soon when you least expect it!

I’m not saying avoid Facebook – far from it – but what I believe is that none of us exist in a single isolated space.

Increasingly so in 2018, as we all become more and more aware of our media consumption and what we ‘publish’ online.

When you’re putting together your strategy for digital marketing and communications, treat everything as a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts. Look to develop a customer journey map, which addresses all potential touch points for your target audiences and gives you a solid understanding of how and when and where you can reach them.

By doing this, and really getting a feel for where your customers exist online, you can ensure you’re getting the right message to them, on the right channel, at the right time.

And, importantly, you won’t be at risk of having everything fall out from underneath you should, one day, you find that particular media space is no longer available to you, for whatever reason.

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