Late last year I posted a discussion about whether or not Pinterest will replace Facebook as a social platform. The post was meant to spark conversation. It’s interesting… whenever a new platform rises (like Pinterest or Google Plus), there is always chatter about whether it will bring down the big giants.
Lots of people try out the new kid on the block, and some become die-hard converts saying: “This is GREAT! I’ll never go back to _______ (Insert Facebook, Twitter, etc.)!” They may have been big complainers about the other platforms, just waiting for an excuse to leap away to something they perceived as a “better,” or they simply may just be intrigued by something new.
Don’t be fooled. It’s people who are social, and their activity is what drives the creators of platforms to innovate. Platforms cannot be “social” in and of themselves. When people or brands say they don’t like a platform, what I believe is really happening is that they’re either interacting with the wrong people or they don’t think they’re receiving value from those they are following. Social media is about us… not the technology that facilitates it for us. Social technologies are just tools to help us communicate with each other.
While it’s always a good idea to keep an eye on new platforms (especially high-performing ones), brands should be careful of falling victim to the “shiny new toy” syndrome that can fragment marketing efforts and drain resources. As with any marketing initiative, the benefits derived from using a platform depend on how well you can maximize its potential. Before dumping a platform for the next rising star, ask yourself these questions:
- Did I set S.M.A.R.T. goals at the outset? ( specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, timely)
- Is a large percentage of my audience using this platform?
- Am I following best practices in a social and platform-specific context?
- Have I maximized use of the tool-sets within the platform?
- How have I measured results, and how long have I been using these measures?
- Am I prepared to give up my momentum on this platform to “start over” with another, or do I have time/resources to do both?
It’s too soon to tell what will happen with some of these new toys—they’ve only been active for a relatively short period of time—whereas the big guns have had a few years of development time under their belts and reliable statistics on usage, demographics and patterns of success. That’s not to say you shouldn’t experiment with new ones, but be careful of throwing out the baby with the bathwater.
In many ways, the concept of relationship-building in social media can be likened to building a retirement portfolio. As any financial planner worth his or her salt will tell you, chasing the hottest stocks based on short-term performance isn’t the best plan, especially in a volatile market.
Since we’re building a “portfolio” of sorts with social, I’ll paraphrase a good financial planner’s top four pieces of advice, because they also apply to building Return on Relationship™:
- Don’t be reactionary
- Plan your strategy carefully based on your long-term goals
- Keep an eye on where things are happening, and tweak the plan as you need to
- Diversify your efforts based on a long-term view of performance
Yes, social media is still evolving—but don’t let a perception of volatility cause you to jump ship when a steadier hand at the till can improve performance. Listen, study, measure, tweak—and keep plotting a course that delivers value to your audience. Maximize the tools you’re already using, and your “returns” will grow.
As always, you offer wise words Ted. I get so frustrated with everyone touting the new TOY to use your word. Just when I’ve got the “Old” one down I have to learn Empire Avenue, Stumble Upon, Google +, or Pinterest. Yipes, gimme a break! PLEASE!
So true Bruce. But remember you do not have to go anywhere. It is all about where the people you communicate with do so. Because on the end it is not about the platform, but about the people.
I like this blog – strategy is key.
Love this thiinking. I feel new to all of this (this is what happens when one gets an iPad for Christmas), and it can be overwhelming to not only find your voice, but also your platform. Makes perfect sense to keep the focus on the SOCIAL, and let *that* drive my MEDIA.
Lori… simply be authentic, don’t just act it. This might seem obvious… but authenticity is on the verge of becoming just another buzz word in social media marketing. TRUE authenticity (not just using that word often in your tweets and posts) will set you apart in today’s highly competitive market. Followers are attracted to REAL, and can sniff out fake in a heartbeat.
The only way to be authentic is to BE authentic. Be yourself. As Dr. Seuss reminds us so eloquently… “Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.” REAL trumps PERFECT because REAL creates TRUST.