Yesterday Jeremiah Owyang wrote a great blog about how brands will use FriendFeed, a life streaming tool that incorporates and feeds dozens of selected social media services to a base of opted-in subscribers. While Twitter has grown to be a popular communications vehicle for many major brands, these same corporations seem to be slower at adopting FriendFeed, or even comparable services such as Profilactic, as part of their social media strategies.
One of the points that Jeremiah makes is around the simplicity of life streaming and how easy it would be for companies to aggregate social media data into a feed for their fans. If done right, life streaming as incorporated into a company's communications strategy could potentially replace the old static spam-like corporate newsletter. Here's how:
- Create a company-branded life stream that at the very least includes the corporate blog, del.icio.us, Stumble Upon, Digg and Google Reader Shared Items. If your company also utilizes YouTube or Flickr or Twitter for branding efforts, be sure to incorporate those services, too. If you leverage the Social Media News Release, include this RSS as well.
- Use del.icio.us to bookmark a great news article about the company or Digg an article about trends in your industry at large. Use Flickr to favorite pictures that might be associated with your brand. The simple RSS feeder in the life streaming services will automatically push in your corporate blog entries.
- Try to keep the stream as balanced as possible without creating brand recognition for your competitors. Your customers will want to see both sides to these and in making it easier for them, you stand a better chance at holding their readership.
- Once a healthy life stream is established, leverage your old communications vehicles to promote it, such as the old static, spam-like corporate newsletter. If you are a channel-focused company also educate your partners as to how they could leverage the life stream to communicate with their end users.
- While you should encourage your newsletter readers to subscribe to your specific life stream on its portal page, you may have more success getting them to subscribe to your life stream via an RSS feed. The benefit, however, of them using the portal is the ability to join in the discussion, which leads me to the most important step...
- ENGAGE. Jeremiah made a true statement when he said "many brands will get it wrong, it's not just publishing." One of the advantages that FriendFeed has over Profilactic is its ability to create community and discussions on each posted item. Watch your customers and partners interact here -- with you and with each other. Start conversations on items by asking questions. Subscribe to your readers' feeds. Do not let your life stream become a push vehicle. If you want social media to work for your company, engaging is more important than simply relaying content.
- Beyond engaging, listen. Pay heed to what your customers and partners are saying on your life stream, as this will help you better tailor your content as well as take back valuable feedback to other parts of your organization.
Much like social media itself, the value of life streams is still being quantified. It will take some time for readers who already have trepidation over marketing-fueled newsletter content to fully embrace the idea of life streams. In the meantime, the value of engaging the handful of customers or partners who may already use life streams is tremendous. So why not reach out and start the discussion?