Google any major brand name (or yourself, if you haven't already [and you have, admit it]), and you’ll find a collection of websites, Facebook groups, YouTube videos, Twitter accounts, maybe LinkedIn profiles, all of which combine to present an image or series of images. Untangling each of these streams is more work than most users are prepared to do, so you have to do the work for them.
In thinking about each stream, you need to consider:
- Narratives being created by each part of the stream and how they flow together;
- Give users incentives to pursue each stream (putting the same material on each channel just ignores the unique opportunities and attractions of each);
- User familiarity and expectations with the stream and its flow;
- Interactions associated with the stream (following, liking, commenting, retweeting, etc.) and the cost/benefit to the user of each;
- Navigating the public/private spheres of each stream, almost all of which are situated in the middle of a different Venn diagram overlapping some measure of public and private.
Not all of these streams are going to be entirely in your control: you can moderate comments on your own site’s blog, for instance, but you can’t manage how your tweets are retweeted or who Likes or Favourites your video. (Ever noticed how many new verbs these new streams are utilizing that would have made any conversation about them unintelligible just a few years ago?)
Some channels are opportunities to distribute a “closed” message (a newsletter or rich text email that is essentially a one-way communication to your audience); other channels can be more exploratory, where you can find out what people are saying about your persona (Twitter is great for this).
Some streams are going to make sense to your and your audiences right away, but others may take some time for you to suss out the depth and current (and that’s okay).
Some streams are going to require different voices: press releases may be authoritative, news items may be informative, blog posts may be conversational or even whimsical, tweets can be just about anything, as long as they’re short.
This is not at all to say you need to have a Facebook group and a Twitter feed or any of the other buzzword channels out there. Each of these streams is an opportunity to talk to, listen to and explore with your audiences. When you're open to the possibilities, your total web presence is going to surprise (and hopefully delight) you in ways you never expected.