The Rise of the Borrowed Platform
The borrowed platform has roots in online message boards and early social networks. They're places where users could write and publish content online (anonymously, if they so wished) without the responsibility of having to build the platform or attract an audience.
Today, dedicated user-generated content hubs are allowing thinkers and writers to become online influencers like never before. With LinkedIn's annoucement, it joins the big three:
Quora allows experts to show off their knowledge directly with users who are asking questions. Medium is the "it place" to publish personal essays, musings and observations. Now, all LinkedIn users have the chance of seeing their posts go viral within the network.
Saavy marketers can use borrowed platforms to increase brand awareness and equity, but only with a clearly defined strategy in mind.
Where To Publish?
The inevitable question is now "where should I place my content?" Owned platforms provide the most control and leads to an audience of your design, while bearing the burden of promotion. Earned media mentions carriy with it many SEO benefits and exposes your brand to new audiences. Borrowed platforms do the same with a lower barrier to entry, but place the onus on content creators to deliver on quality.
Experts seem to agree that owned platforms should take precedent, with earned and borrowed actitivies sprinkled in. Quora represents an excellent opportunity for internal thought-leaders (non-marketers) to share their knowledge on behalf of the brand, while LinkedIn and Medium may be best suited for personal thoughts from the c-suite.
Exclusivety Breeds Quality
Blogs and new media outlets like Social Media Today, Search Engine Journal and the Huffington Post thrive off of external authors, but maintain strict editorial control over content. Search industry blog YouMoz does the same, with the added element of gamification, allowing users to promote content it deems worthy to the main Moz blog.
This modus operandi inevitably leads to only the highest quality content seeing the light of day - which is after all what we want, given that there's no shortage of content online.
There will always be a question of content quality on public, borrowed platforms. If you're asking yourself how LinkedIn will police content, the answer is: it won't. The community will. However, high-quality posts from little-known authors may still languish unread.
It's no surprise that the most popular posts and threads on Quora, Medium and LinkedIn were penned by titans in the industry like Dharmesh Shah, Gary Vaynerchuk and Pete Cashmore. Their already-established brands benefit from the additional exposure on heavily-trafficked borrowed platforms. Though a few unknowns may hit a home run occasionally, but you should resign to building up your brand up over the long haul. While the medium can boost an author, it can't always make one.
What about you? Will you try your hand at publishing on LinkedIn? Have you ever written for Medium? Let me know in the comments below.