There is an interesting and challenging balance act being waged by many brands (and individuals, for that matter) when it comes to the ever-changing social media landscape.
On one hand, there are the mainstream services that are straightforward to embrace because there have large user bases. These include Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ and Tumblr.
On the other hand, there continues to be new social media services that seemingly come out of nowhere to attract millions of users. This category includes Pinterest and Instagram.
And then there are emerging social networks such as Path, Fancy, Highlight, LocalMind and Forecast that have people excited but have yet to establish themselves.
What this means for brands is their social media strategies must be flexible, and they have to quickly evaluate new social media opportunities to determine whether they provide any value or a competitive edge.
Given this fast-moving landscape, here are five tips for brands looking to remain socially relevant, flexible and on the leading edge.
1. Consider the major social media networks as table stakes given this is where many consumers exist. A brand may not have to embrace all of them but it needs to have play where the “party” is happening. Bottom line: Determine where your target audiences exist, and then establish a presence to meet it.
2. Explore new networks and opportunities as they emerge. Who knew, for example, that Pinterest would become one of the hottest and biggest social networks after being quasi-stealth mode for a couple of years. Some social networks may initially not appear to have much potential but they should not be dismissed until some research has been done. At the very least, it makes sense to grab the user name just in case.
3. Determine if a new social network meets the needs of your target audiences in a new way. While your target audiences may not be there yet, a social media service could have all the ingredients to engage them at some point. It could be that target audiences simply need to be educated about a social media network.
4. If a new social media networks looks interesting, assess if you have the resources to add it to the mix. A social network may look good but if spreads resources too thin, it could do more harm than good. I’m a big advocate of doing less but doing a great social, compared with doing a lot of things in a mediocre way.
5. Don’t be afraid to swap out social networks to jump on a new opportunity. As part of monitoring social media activity, a brand can should be able to tell what network are working and delivering ROI, and those struggling or missing the mark. If a new social network appears to have a lot of potential, a brand shouldn’t be afraid to turf one of its existing social networks. This keeps existing resources aligned with the social portfolio.
What’s your approach to new social media networks? How do you assess whether they have potential?
More: Here are some thoughts from Mark Schaefer about how to stay ahead of “overwhelming social media change”.