Ever since social media became a significant part of the marketing picture, there is one thing that we have seen repeatedly – a sense that companies and are feeling overwhelmed at how quickly platforms change, launch, evolve, and die. Since I started blogging and tweeting, I’ve seen Twitter and Facebook change significantly. I’ve seen the rise and fall of Quora. I’ve seen Pinterest and Instagram take over the marketing world, at least for a short time, and I’ve seen Foursquare devolve from the hottest new thing to something considerably less hot. As a marketer, it’s my job to keep track of these new platforms. If you are a VP of Sales and Marketing, you probably do not have the bandwidth to track everything that is happening in the world of social media.
When we are short on time, we are more prone to take short cuts, especially if we want to promote the impression that we are staying ahead of the curve. Therefore, when a new social media platform starts to get a lot of buzz, it’s natural for a lot of companies to simply jump in and say, “OK, we’ve claimed our real estate.” The results of this kind of strategy can be haphazard at best. How many abandoned blogs, Twitter accounts, and Facebook pages do you see on a regular basis? Even more to the point, as we’ve talked about before, jumping onto a new platform without a plan in place can yield results that are disastrous for a company’s credibility.
How can you approach the overwhelming number of new platforms that the online world reveals every year? Here are some suggestions we pass along to our clients.
1. Do the research: Learn about the capabilities this new platform offers. Is this something that your company would easily be able to incorporate into your overall marketing plan?
2. Follow the buzz for a few days, weeks, or even months: Even though it’s tempting to jump onto the bandwagon as soon as it pulls into your driveway, our advice is usually to wait a few days. Case in point – Vine. Everyone was extremely excited about the new platform, but shortly after it launched, it became home to 6-second pornography videos rather than what was intended. If you had already invested a lot of time and effort into adding Vine into your marketing strategy, you’d have found yourself, perhaps, doing a fair amount of back-pedaling at that point.
3. Determine how this new platform could complement your other efforts: Don’t just add individual platforms in a vacuum. How will this new platform integrate with other marketing tactics you are investing in? Will your messaging remain consistent from one platform to the next?
4. Determine if you have the time and resources to use this new platform properly: There are always pesky questions when a new platform surfaces. Who at your company will be in charge of your marketing efforts on that platform? How much of their time should be spent on this new platform? What other areas of your marketing plan will be sacrificed to make room for the new effort?
5. Have a plan in case something goes wrong: Most online platforms open the door to things potentially going wrong. On Facebook your page can get inundated with negative comments. Your Twitter account can get hacked, your blogs can get trolled, etc. What is your plan of attack if something bad happens on this new platform? Does everyone understand that?
Even though it is time-consuming to go through this thought process, we feel (strongly) that it is well worth it to avoid potential heartache in the future. It is a strategy of caution, but caution can pay off in the long run.
Image Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/johanneslundberg/4749264031/ via Creative Commons