While the report suggests putting more effort into your own website and email (owned media), it also suggests giving up Facebook (rented media) - or at least not making Facebook the center of your marketing efforts. Looking at the above numbers and using Forrester's logic, one might wonder why a brand would want a mailing list, mobile app or SMS.
At SHIFT, we're fully committed to an integrated approach that includes multiple aspects of communications and marketing and the digital and social media that connect them. To completely ignore any segment - particularly a significant one - is to have an incomplete strategy.
We share Forrester's notion that a web presence must have more social integration to make it effective and that you should exert as much control as you can over your own properties. Here are our recommendations:
Understand your audience
It's absolutely critical to know who you're reaching or who you want to reach, as well as the platforms on which they spend their time. Having a fine-tuned analytics backend (such as Google Analytics or Omniture) baked into your site is a first step to understanding where they're coming from. It's equally as important to be up to speed with the various changes that Google makes that affect search results to your site as well.
The Forrester report notes that a branded community is a better solution because a Sony Playstation microsite gained 4.5 million pageviews (an outdated metric, perhaps?). However, they don't manage to explain exactly where those views came from. A quick glance shows that Sony Playstation's Facebook page has over 4.7 million likes. Were those Facebook fans partially responsible for the eyeballs on the site? Perhaps. But a comprehensive audit would be more telling.
Focus on quality content
You're not going to get eyeballs (if that indeed is your metric of choice) if you don't know what people want. Whether you're posting on Facebook, your website or a branded community, content matters. Storytelling, emotional connection with your readers or viewers and the ability to develop relationships with them over time are the hallmarks of the progressive marketer. Yes, you'll want to customize that content for the unique audiences on each platform, but without a story that matters to them, you'll be dissatisfied with every platform you're on.
This whole "dump Facebook" mantra is a red herring. It's a tendency to throw Facebook under the bus because of poor quality content created by marketers. Facebook is constantly developing products and tweaking the News Feed to benefit users, and marketers hold some accountability in that formula as well. If the lazy brands want to reuse content from other sites, post it and run away without engaging or gleaning insights from the data, then they deserve the paltry results they get.
Know your goals
No single site or platform is a panacea; each has its own purpose, just as a press release, launch event and Sunday circular have their uses. The tools and platforms you select should match your needs, whether it's brand building, awareness, reputation, lead generation or sales. For most companies, social networks have been much better at assisting with the upper funnel - awareness and brand communications. But if done correctly with the right content and other integrated owned properties, they can be shown to work.
In our experience, using each platform in a silo will yield limited results. If you know what you're doing and can derive insights from your data, you can achieve a greater outcome. For example, combining your email database with Facebook or Twitter for more targeted audience opportunities will result in fewer wasted marketing dollars. An audit of all of your activities - online and offline, paid, earned and owned media - is a powerful way to glean data and develop insights that can lead to more intelligent ways to assign your resources.
As with everything, moderation is key. Knowing what you're trying to achieve and who you need to reach is a first step in developing a comprehensive and integrated strategy in paid, earned, owned and rented media.