Lifestreaming: The White Paper (Weber Shandwick)

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Celebrities are lifestreaming. Brands are brandstreaming. Lifestreams take a one-dimensional story and add more depth.

Brands can use lifestream platforms to tell their own real-time stories in what are called brandstreams. A proper brandstream can comprise the following, depending on the nature of the brand itself:

* company news and information
* executive thought leadership
* corporate culture, events and "life around the office"

We describe this and much more in our new white paper, "What is a Lifestream?", where we answer the following questions:

* What is lifestreaming?
* Why lifestream?
* What are some types of lifestreams?
* What are some lifestreaming platforms I should consider?
* Does a lifestream replace a socialstream?
* What is a brandstream?
* How can brands use lifestreaming platforms to better tell their digital stories?

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Lifestreaming: The White Paper (Weber Shandwick)

  1. 1. lifestream Given the rapid adoption of social technologies, brand and PR managers now have more options than ever before for communicating directly with their customers. Social networks, blogs, Twitter, and digital video and imaging sites all provide new opportunities for a two-way brand conversation. As businesses — and consumers — have taken advantage of these channels, there is now an urgent need for companies to grow their digital interactions into valuable, meaningful relationships that break through the clutter. It’s simply not enough to just be in the digital space anymore. To create these relationships, businesses must provide reasons for customers to do business with them, media and other influencers to produce content about them and analysts to study them. They must paint a picture of the company, its goals and its employees in a dynamic way that brings the brand essence to life. If you watch the digital and social media space closely, you can observe how people are evolving their digital storytelling using a new format: the lifestream. Lifestream | September 2009 1
  2. 2. what is a lifestream? A lifestream is an aggregated, chronological view of one’s digital — and in some cases, analog — activities. Lifestreams can simply be used to keep track of Twitter updates, blog posts, comments on other people’s blogs and other online activity, as well as real world activity documented through photos and videos. Others use lifestreams to publish original content — blog posts, photos, videos, etc. — and syndicate it on other services. Lifestreams have implications for how brands and agencies monitor online conversations and behaviors as well as for understanding how to enter the various social streams in authentic ways. As a tool, lifestreaming translates well for companies, provided the stream is run in an authentic way that’s aligned with consumer interests, rather than purely the company’s interests. Brandstreams, a lifestream for a brand, will lead to customer interaction, but the unique content you create through them are a powerful tool to create brand advocacy. why lifestream? The goal of a lifestream is to publish your online activity for others’ benefit. Lifestreaming can help build social capital for your company or personal brand; it supplements and aggregates one’s social media profiles. Because it presents many different types of content, a lifestream can serve as the hub for one’s digital existence. Twitter, for example, is a valuable tool for customer interaction and customer service, but its text-only nature and character limits (140 characters per post, or “Tweet”) make it difficult to share any thought in full. Third-party services such as TwitPic and TwitVid add a more visceral component to Twitter, but that content cannot be viewed within the actual Twitter framework. A lifestream: • Streamlines the content production process. If you seek to republish blog activity in other places, lifestreams are an easy way to do it. the goal of a lifestream is to • S erves as a social bookmarking site. If you read an interesting article online, you can save that article in your lifestream for later reference publish one’s or to share with others. online activity for others’ • Provides a content management system for a blog. If you want to benefit write full-length blog posts, you can do so in a lifestream. Lifestream | September 2009 2
  3. 3. types of lifestreams A lifestream can have one of two formats: • Blog: A blog-like lifestreaming service like Posterous or Tumblr is generally used to syndicate content. Content can be pushed to various social media accounts, which link back to the lifestream. Readers can comment on blog-like lifestreams. • F eed: A feed-like lifestreaming service like FriendFeed aggregates your digital activity in one place. Other users of the service can comment on feed-like lifestreams. Because different services present content in different ways, your communications needs or audience demands dictate the platform you should choose. Fig. 1 shows a basic spectrum of some services and how they compare. More Blog-like More Feed-like © Weber Shandwick 2009 fig. 1 - the lifestream spectrum Facebook lies in the middle of the blog-like/feed-like spectrum because of its flexibility; Facebook has the ability to track both on-site and off-site activity. It has microblog functionality through status updates, blog functionality through its Notes application, and displays recently-uploaded photos in users’ News Feeds. In short, a lifestream is whatever you want it to be. Lifestream | September 2009 3
  4. 4. socialstream vs. lifestream A socialstream is a service that aggregates and displays others’ online activity into a single interface for consumption and response. In contrast, a lifestream can not only pull in activity — it can also push activity out to other sites. Twitter, for instance, is a socialstream: it pulls Tweets from your friends into a single interface. (See Figs. 2 and 3.) You can post your own Tweets to the stream, or you can simply read others’ Tweets. TWeeT TWeeT a socialstream pulls in online activity, but a TWeeT lifestream can also push it out twitter stream © Weber Shandwick 2009 As you can see, because Twitter is a socialstream, individual Tweets are pulled into a single interface, like so: fig. 2 - the socialstream flow fig. 3 - a twitter user’s home page Lifestream | September 2009 4
  5. 5. Many lifestreaming services not only pull in content, but syndicate content to other sites as well. Therefore, a lifestream does not replace a socialstream, but integrates and enhances it, as shown here: STORY LINk PhOTO BLOG a lifestream POST does not replace a socialstream lifestream © Weber Shandwick 2009 OTheR FACeBOOk TWeeTed STATuS WALL POST LINk uPdATe LINk fig. 4 - the lifestream flow Many lifestreaming services can not only serve as a place to publish original content, but can push that content out to your social networks of choice. For example, if you post multiple photos to a single entry on Posterous, the service creates a link for your page, and — if you choose to link it up with Twitter and Facebook — it will: • A dd the Posterous link to Twitter, along with the post’s headline, in a published Tweet. • Automatically create a photo album on Facebook with the pictures you uploaded. Lifestream | September 2009 5
  6. 6. Lifestream content Aggregate content Syndicate from social content media You to social profiles media profiles Socialstream content © Weber Shandwick 2009 fig. 5 - the lifestream/socialstream cYcle Whether a lifestream or a storystream is the center of your social media presence — it’s not an either/or question — a lifestream can centralize your socialstreams, and a socialstream is a way to repurpose and republish your lifestream. Original content can start from a lifestream or a socialstream, but it all becomes part of one’s digital existence, which can be documented with a lifestream. a lifestream can centralize your socialstreams Lifestream | September 2009 6
  7. 7. creating a brandstream A brandstream is a lifestream for a company or brand. Brandstreams help companies tell their stories more effectively and distribute content on the web. Whereas a lifestream typically has one author, a brandstream — depending on the size of the company — may have multiple authors. Brandstreams can be used both externally and internally, and can be authored by several groups or departments within a company, including: • Communications team • Product development group • Company executives • Customer service team depending on who runs the brandstream, its focus can be on anything from product news to customer service issues, to thought leadership. however, it must be focused, and depending on audience needs, its author(s) should be an active part of the social web. If the site’s authorship lies away from the company’s communication team, it should still serve a major role in the brandstream’s planning stages. types of brandstreams There are four categories of brandstreams: © Weber Shandwick 2009 CORPORATe MIxed BRANdSTReAM BRANdSTReAM eVeNTSTReAM FuN & STORYSTReAM BRANdSTReAM Lifestream | September 2009 7
  8. 8. CorporAte BrAndstreAM Companies that are new to social media may benefit from a brandstream. Because of its immediacy, a brandstream can function as a more emotionally engaging version of the typical company blog. It can be a valuable way to aggregate and publish all sorts of news and information about the company and its leaders. The following may be incorporated into a corporate brandstream: 1. Company announcements. Press releases and other news can be posted in blog form on a brandstream. Most lifestreaming services allow for on-site commenting, which can continue a conversation. Product releases, announcements and updates can also be included on a corporate brandstream. 2. uarterly and annual reports. A brandstream is an easy way to collect and publish a company’s Q quarterly and annual report calls for people to listen to and/or download. 3. Company “X” in the news. If the company makes the news, or if one of the company’s leaders is quoted in an article, you can provide a link in the brandstream. Promote the fact that your company is smart. Promote the fact that your leaders are smart. If your company makes the news in a negative way, a brandstream will give you a forum in which to post a response. If you go this route, be sure to post your response quickly. Whenever possible, use multimedia to give a face and a voice to your company. 4. ndustry trends. If you see any articles or reports detailing a recent trend in your I business, write up a point-of-view document as quickly as possible and post it to the brandstream. 5. ompany thought leadership. If you have an employee or executive who is C revolutionizing your company or industry, write about it. Interview them. Post some audio and/or video. Once again, put a face on your company. Lifestream | September 2009 8
  9. 9. provide content that your customers and audience can relate to Fun brAndstreAM do you want to give consumers and prospective employees a peek into what life is really like at your company? If this is the case, you may want to loan the brandstream keys to your employees and give them free rein to talk about whatever’s on their mind: a new hire, an article on their favorite blog — anything. The key to maintaining a successful fun brandstream is providing content that your customers and audience can relate to. If your customers feel they have a connection with your brand and the people behind it, they may be more likely to do business with you. Therefore, fun brandstream posts should be a bit personal. After all, employees make a company special. (The Tweetdeck brandstream is a great example.1) The following may be incorporated into a fun brandstream: 1. hotos, videos and audio from company events or around the office. P Make your customers feel like they’re behind the scenes at your company. 2. hat your employees are doing, thinking, reading and watching. If you have a W company social bookmarking account on delicious, or if your employees are sharing links, post them on the brandstream to share with your audience. 3. Customer-centric content. Companies that have a customer base of rabid fans may benefit from acknowledging their supporters through interviews, profiles and other editorial content. A good example is uSA Today Pop Candy blogger Whitney Matheson’s “Reader of the day” posts.2 4. socialstream content. Tweets from a company or employee Twitter account, YouTube videos and other content can all be aggregated on your brandstream, either as a new post3, or in an integrated widget. Lifestream | September 2009 9
  10. 10. MiXed BrAndstreAM Mixed brandstreams are a combination of the serious and fun sides of a company. They are a place for company news and information, and a place for the company to let its hair down — a bit. Components of both corporate and fun brandstreams may be incorporated into a mixed brandstream. eventstreAM & storystreAM An eventstream is a lifestream created for a particular event, comprised of multiple posts that tell the story of that event. eventstreams can be either personal or professional, and can be managed by single or multiple authors. A storystream helps bring to light, through a chronological narrative, a particular issue, concept or process over a more significant period of time than an eventstream typically covers. There are several differences between eventstreams and storystreams: 1. duration. An eventstream is usually shorter than a storystream. 2. requency. An eventstream usually comprises many posts over a short period of time. With a F storystream, posts may be much less frequent. An eventstream can be created for A storystream can be used to document any type of event, including: the following: • Conferences • A particular issue in the news, such as • Concerts breast cancer research • Picnics • Training for a marathon • Protests • A woman’s pregnancy The terms eventstream and storystream are used interchangably in some circumstances, such as when they are used to chronicle a multi-day conference, or when they are used for journalistic purposes.4 Lifestream | September 2009 10
  11. 11. conclusion Lifestreams and brandstreams are connected to, but distinct from, socialstreams. And there is a service to fulfill your particular need. If you’re looking to publish a lot of content, you may want to use a service like Posterous, Storytlr or Tumblr, which allow for both short and long posts and have the ability to include multimedia content (e.g. photos, video) on the page. On the other hand, if you’re looking to aggregate your external content (blog posts, Tweets, etc.) in a single interface and export it on a single feed, FriendFeed may be a good choice. Facebook’s large user base and the ease of user interaction make it a good option for people or brands who want to communicate with others directly on the feed, and don’t consider content publishing a priority. If you don’t think your audience is lifestreaming yet, there’s a good chance it will be soon. A lifestream or brandstream might not be right for every company and every brand. To determine how and if you should apply this type of communication to your brand or corporation — and ensure that it’s aligned with your audience’s interests — follow these three basic steps: 1. etermine your needs. Are you looking to communicate directly with your current d customers? Are you looking to bring in new business? Your business needs will help shape the type(s) of content you need to produce. 2. determine your format. Are you looking to publish more original content? Aggregate other content into one stream? A lifestreaming service may be well-equipped to display your content, original or aggregated. 3. determine where the content will live. Will it live internally or externally? Will it live in an internet press room? If you create a brandstream blog, how will you promote it? In order to pick the lifestreaming service that’s right for your brand, you must first determine your objectives. Work with your company’s communication and web professionals to determine your needs and find the site to help you accomplish your goal. 1. http://tweetdeck.posterous.com “Tweetdeck’s Posterous” 2. http://blogs.usatoday.com/popcandy “Pop Candy” 3. http://pomwonderful.tumblr.com “Pom Wonderful!” 4. http://austinheat.posterous.com “A day in the Sun,” Austin American-Statesman Contact: daniel honigman 312 988 2428 dhonigman@webershandwick.com Lifestream | September 2009 11

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