Explained: Digital media channels

September 29, 2015

This is a follow-up to a blog series talking about digital communication. Last week we covered social media audits and in this article, we discuss different social media channels.

So, what are channels?

Channels are the methods and mediums you use to make your content reach intended audiences. Different channels could be

  • Organisational website
  • Websites aimed at subsets of the main audience (microsites, topical sites, campaign sites, event sites) or specific regions (often in translation or with content created for local audiences)
  • Blogs
  • Newsletters
  • Social media
  • Webcasts, podcasts, and videos
  • Mobile applications
  • Downloadable text-based content like white papers, ebooks, and reports
  • Online magazines and media
  • Third-party applications, publications, and sites

Wow, that’s a lot of channels!

For a small, professional organisation, it doesn’t make sense to commit to very many channels. Each channel that you choose requires customisation and resources. Our advice would be to limit to a few, and commit to maintaining those with high quality content for your audience.

Ok then, which channels to use?

Out of the many services, platforms and communities that exist today, it’s not necessary to be on all of them. Each network, social media or community tends to have its own best practices, style and user types. Choose the one(s) that make the most sense to your audience and fit your overall communication plan.

When choosing your channel strategy, consider these factors,

How much time to allocate to a social network?
In the beginning, an hour a day per social network is a realistic time estimate. (Note that this might decrease over time, and some of the management will get automated along the way)

People: Who will be working on the service and what skills do you have at your disposal?
Some social networks (e.g. Pinterest, SoundCloud, Youtube) require images, photos or sound. Networks like LinkedIn require more professional content. Content maintenance needs and available resources should be thought of already when developing the strategy.

Which social network has the right demographics for your audience?
Likewise, some social networks are favored by specific user types. E.g. Quora tends to lean towards more technologically-oriented crowds, while Pinterest users are mainly women in an unprofessional/lifestyle capacity, and Instagram’s user base slightly younger.

Facebook is typically viewed as the generic, all-audiences platform, that reaches many different audiences profiles. Depending on the main target audiences, also platforms like LinkedIn could offer high visibility networking opportunities, and Twitter tends to be the preferred medium for real-time, instant communication, like breaking news, hosting chats and live interviews.

With the increase of multimedia content online, video services like YouTube or Vimeo, or audio services like SoundCloud are often used to distribute professional content updates.

Primary social presence or a supporting social network?
Note that today, social networks are fast converging, and organisations might need to use supporting social networks to create content for the main channel(s). For example, you might record an interview at a conference on your phone and upload it to your organisational SoundCloud account, after which you use that clip to add a multimedia update to your Facebook page.

This blogpost is Part 4 of a series of articles to navigating the process of developing a digital media strategy. Read all articles here.