Web Media: Stock and Flow

2011 will be a year when social media becomes much more integrated with key business functions and many folks will find themselves managing an increased number of multiple accounts: from Facebook to HootSuite to Tumblr. So a common set of questions rolling into next year are: How do I best manage my various web media and my social media? Either personally or for my organization. Is there an over-arching strategy as to how I should act? Should I blog every day or should I blog once a week?  How active should I be in order to be ‘successful’?

Noah Brier at The Barbarian Group keeps a terrific blog. Recently, he had a great post which linked back to a thought that Robin Sloan over at Snarkmarket had made earlier this year. It talks about content creation in terms of a popular economics theory called, stock and flow.

From Robin:

“(In terms of economics) there are two kinds of quantities in the world. Stock is a static value: money in the bank, or trees in the forest. Flow is a rate of change: fifteen dollars an hour, or three-thousand toothpicks a day.

But I actually think stock and flow is the master metaphor for media today. Here’s what I mean:

Flow is the feed. It’s the posts and the tweets. It’s the stream of daily and sub-daily updates that remind people that you exist.

Stock is the durable stuff. It’s the content you produce that’s as interesting in two months (or two years) as it is today. It’s what people discover via search. It’s what spreads slowly but surely, building fans over time.”

I think that’s extremely centering.

A good strategy, as Noah and Robin both practice, is to put them together. Flow keeps you relevant and doesn’t make it so hard to draw attention to your stock once it’s ready. Keep yourself active. (It’s helpful to remember that 90% of the time any action from a tweet happens within the first hour of its post.) Then once you have stock, something of lasting value, you can easily plug that into your flow. Without good flow, whenever worthy stock becomes available people may not know the content is there and you have to re-establish your relevance–nearly impossible in a short time frame. All flow and no stock is pretty thin. And stock without flow may not achieve the results you want.

There is no universally correct method or frequency to produce your web media content. Blogs can serve as both stock and flow so it just depends on how you run them and what you’re comfortable with. The important thing is just to establish what your plan is to create both.

Thinking about media creation through the lenses of stock and flow is the best perspective I’ve heard in awhile and wanted to be sure to pass it along…

1 comments
Clay McDaniel
Clay McDaniel

John - Thanks for the post. In the opening paragraph, you touch on the challenge of managing numerous social network accounts, social media services, and social publishing software tools. It's worth noting that organizations have a different option emerging rapidly: standardizing their publishing and social account management on a single, SAAS based Social Content Management solution. Some of the early leaders in this field include Spredfast, ObjectiveMarketer, and Sprinklr. In addition, several of the early-entry consumer focused desktop apps which enable multi-channel publishing such as HootSuite, CoTweet, and Seesmic are pushing hard into the enterprise space with more robust solutions as well. Greater efficiency and ability to manage scale are coming rapidly to organizations willing to go for true cross-functional integration of social media with their PR, marketing, product, customer service, agency partners, and other teams. Content is always king, of course, but it sure helps teams focus on content that is clever, timely, and valuable when everyone can snap to a single social CMS tool on which all vested parties can collaborate, monitor accounts, and publish efficiently. Happy holidays to the DC team in Boise and all your blog readers. -Clay McDaniel