There’s a new social media platform and everybody’s talking about it. Should your brand be there to capitalize on it?
This article is what people in the digital marketing world call “evergreen content” – there will always be a new social media platform surrounded by hype, but the basic questions your brand should ask itself don’t change. With finite resources, an investment in a new social media platform needs to justify the costs in time and money.
Brands need to ask themselves the who, what, when, where, why, and how of any new app that comes along before diving in.
Who? Consider All Your Stakeholders
People form the basis for success with any social media channel – both those behind the feed and those viewing it. For a sustainable social media strategy, you should ask yourself these questions:
- Is our audience there? (you need a critical mass to be successful)
- Does our team have the bandwidth to take this on? (leadership consistently underestimates how time-consuming it is to manage social media well – be careful not to burn out your people)
- Do we have an internal champion? (you need someone to learn the nuances of the platform and translate them into an evolving content strategy while also avoiding the pitfalls)
- Do we have a succession plan? (in the event of staff turnover, your organization needs to be able to access the channel – this likely means not only the login/password but access to the two-factor authentication method as well)
- Would it be easier/more effective to partner with an influencer? (sometimes the best opportunity for a new platform isn’t to own your own presence – growing an audience from scratch is grueling work)
What? Map Out What This Social Media Channel Will Be Used For
Operationalizing a strategy for social media content is tough, and the platforms are always hungry for more. Consider this:
- Do we have something of value to contribute? (self-promotion is not a content strategy)
- What resources will it take? (you may be better off focusing your attention on improving an existing channel with those resources)
- How frequently will we produce content? (growing an audience will invariably require your brand to produce content of value regularly – social media timelines are always hungry for more)
- Are we just going to replicate what we’re already doing elsewhere? (if you are, skip it; in fact, if you’re doing this for any of your legacy channels – you should have a serious conversation about deprecating some of them)
When? Examine the Timing for Adopting a New Social Media Platform
With social media, timing is important for so many reasons. Some fizzle out completely. Most tend to only facilitate organic (unpaid) reach and engagement during a window of time early in their lifespan (before the volume of content and pressure to monetize the audience reduce those opportunities). Here are some ways to frame the thought process:
- Can we get early/beta access? (being one of the first brands at the table provides outsized opportunities because the audience isn’t overwhelmed with content – yet)
- Does it still have organic reach? (when new platforms launch, reaching new audiences without paying for it is still a possibility; eventually, however, all platforms end up restricting organic reach because of the need to manage the volume of content and monetize the audience)
- How quickly do we need to produce results/grow a following? (you aren’t likely to see results immediately – it will require time and patience, likely measured in quarters or years)
- Should we wait until the platform matures? (most often, the answer is yes – as with all “shared” platforms, your entire investment could disappear if the app’s VC funding does)
Where? Study the Landscape to Ensure This Social Media Platform is a Good Fit
We are awash in places to invest our time and attention – consider these questions to determine if the new platform is one of them:
- Do we already have a channel that offers this (or similar) functionality? (the major social media players are certain to duplicate the features of any new platform that threatens to lure their audiences away – you might be better off using the new features with the audiences you’ve already cultivated)
- Is this a safe space for brands generally? (some platforms attract audiences that are more hostile to marketing or which do not have strong safeguards for managing engagement – stay away from them)
- Is this a safe place for our brand specifically? (if your brand has any reputational challenges, evaluate whether this platform caters to an audience likely to exacerbate them)
Why? Scrutinize Your Goals and Objectives for This Social Media Platform
Your success depends on your ability to be honest and circumspect when answering these questions:
- What is our [SMART] goal? / What bottom-line outcome do you need to impact? (some platforms don’t enable the sort of transactional content that facilitates sales – think of the early “link in bio” days of Instagram)
- How will we measure success? (“awareness” doesn’t cut the mustard anymore)
- Does the platform offer analytics for measurement? (“you can’t manage what you can’t measure” – W. Edwards Deming)
- Are competitors using it (well)? (this can be a barometer for measuring opportunity, but it can also indicate that the window of opportunity has closed)
How? Take Into Account the Practical Execution of a Strategy for This Social Media Platform
So many brilliant strategies can fail in the execution of the tactics. To avoid becoming another casualty, make sure you can answer the following:
- Does this platform offer paid opportunities? (unless you have a consumer-facing brand that provides products/services that customers yearn for, you have very little likelihood of building an audience without paying for the privilege)
- Are there profiles/content options for brands (or only individuals)? (the answer to this is often “no” – so you’ll struggle to inform your audience of your products and important details like your locations)
- Do tools exist to help manage engagement on a large scale? (assuming your efforts are fruitful, you can be crushed by the challenge of managing customer engagement at scale if the only option is tapping out responses on your mobile device)
- Are there intellectual property challenges for content creation? (platforms whose content runs on the reuse/remixing of content created by others are a nightmare for brands, which run far higher risks of copyright/trademark infringement suits than individual users)
Unless you can field a decent answer to each one of these questions, your best option is probably to sit out the newest hype-worthy social media app. One of the single most difficult challenges of digital marketing is maintaining focus with so many shiny distractions vying for your attention.
Don’t worry though – if the past two decades have taught us anything, it’s that another new app is currently being coded in a dorm room or coffee shop. You’ll have many more opportunities.