Avoid the Platform Rut

It’s hard to believe, but one of the first (or even first) questions brands ask themselves and their agencies when it comes to social media is, “What should we be doing on Facebook/ Twitter/ YouTube/ etc.?” Social media has become such a buzzword amongst marketing teams that the questions around should social media be used by the company, what do we want to get from it and so on don’t even get asked and often don’t get answered until it’s too late. Instead of taking a strategic approach, social media becomes a platform checklist of marketing to-do’s.

This week Tumblr, the blogging platform and community network, announced that it reaches 120 million people every month and receives 15 billion page views per month. Users spend an average of 81.6 minutes on the site each month, which pales in comparison to Facebook’s 379 minutes. Still, it’s significant and growing rapidly. Another niche and growing website is Pinterest, a content curation service, has users that spend an average of 72 minutes with it per month. Those are just two examples. Other, more niche social networks like Path, Instagram, Reddit and others are gaining traction, users and user attention. This is only the beginning.

The landscape is changing… constantly. We can’t be lazy and just accept that there are mandatories when it comes to social media marketing. There aren’t. Everything is custom to the brand, the audience and the online conversation.

Do you find yourself in a social media rut, doing the same thing as everyone else just because you feel like you have to?

Be Where You Can Be Strongest

eMarketer reports that 70% of US marketers plan to increase their presence across social media platforms in 2012. Perhaps, this means a new presence on one of the standard platforms (e.g., Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn), but it also means that others will be putting a stake in the ground on other platforms.

It’s important to not spread your brand too thin across multiple platforms. The right approach is investing in where your brand has the most potential, whether that’s one platform or a few. Don’t spread resources out so thin if it means being present in several places but not finding success in any.

Insights Shouldn’t Be an Afterthought

What should be driving decisions, insights, often come too late. We start to look for them after a decision’s been made. For example, the decision is made to get on Facebook, a page is created and then the question is asked around what the brand should be doing there. This is working backwards.

We can’t make a platform work if it’s doomed to fail. The platform should have potential to connect the brand with its customers before marketers even get started.

Brands need to be experts on their customers, not social media platforms.

Let the customers do the work, reveal the insights and drive social media decisions. Follow them and anticipate their behavior by what you know about them. If they can’t get enough of your Facebook photos, there may be opportunity to get on Instagram or to create a board they can follow on Pinterest.

People will use the platforms that give them what they want. They’re not going to create profiles on these platforms just because they feel like they have to. Marketers shouldn’t either.

My PathWe’re Heading Toward Fragmentation

The answers are only going to get harder.

It seems that anyone and everyone is on Facebook. However, that’s not going to be the case forever. Many people are searching for alternatives. Facebook may be one of many platforms they use on a regular basis. However, other networks may be where they get more value. Path sets itself apart by being a more limited social network. You’re there to connect with the people you love, close family and friends. How many of us can say our Facebook connections are that tight? Path could be where people get more value.

The luxury of having a single platform to find just about anyone may be coming to an end. People are looking for alternatives and brands should too.