OMG! I Want That.

Social media tools are changing. New platforms are being developed. Competitors are leveraging new social platforms every moment. All of this makes it difficult to maintain a strategic direction as detours slap us in the face at every moment, and we find ourselves saying, “OMG! This could be huge for us.” The truth is… it probably won’t be.

Every day we are faced with the decision of where resources are devoted, and jumping from platform to platform and tool to tool is the easiest way to appear very busy without ever doing anything.

Success in the social space doesn’t come down to what brand is using a new tool first. It comes from taking a deliberate approach of testing the waters, determining resources and investing with care. That’s how you separate the real deal from a meaningless distraction for your business.

Test the Waters

Every tool is different. The communities come with their own cultures, the rules differ across platforms and the ultimate payoff for the end user is never the same. So learn the lay of the land. Jump in and participate... as a user. Talk to the users, and determine the emotional benefit of the platform. Is this something that your brand can be a part of? Is this an environment your brand can bring value in.

While you’re there… you may only be testing, but it’s usually a good idea to claim your brand’s username. For some platforms this is easy. For others, it’s more cumbersome and may not even be possible. Claim your brand’s name. Whether the platform will be used or not, you at least have the proper username.

Determine Resources

When the platform starts to feel like a viable opportunity, prove it. Use your audience and/or brand prospects to justify an investment in the platform. Do they use it? Will they? What does the platform offer them that they can’t get elsewhere? Basically, find information to justify a recommendation and clearly articulate the brand benefits.

That information will be critical for determining just how important of a role this platform can play for the business because the danger with moving from tool to tool is never investing enough in a single platform to make a difference. A new platform doesn’t always come with more time, money or people, so it’s important to determine if the new tool will replace some efforts that aren’t necessarily delivering or will be in addition to efforts that are. But those aren’t the only options.

You can stop. Some brands decide that now isn’t the right time for this particular platform, which is the right decision more often than not.

Invest with Care

When you do decide to invest, determining what to invest and how much can be a bit tricky because you have to give the platform a fair shot, but you also need to make sure it’s a viable tactic. Start with a trial plan with short-term objectives, invest a reasonable amount to achieve objectives and then measure against those KPIs.

An Opportunity to Be Tested

There will never be a shortage of opportunities for brands in the social space, but they should all be viewed with tempered enthusiasm and as opportunities that need to prove themselves. Brands that jump from tactic to tactic will never go anywhere, but brands that follow a strategy and evaluate platforms through that strategic lens will end up on top.

Industry trades and blog posts don’t make platforms great for businesses. Businesses do that. So don’t give into the hype. Be deliberate and be strategic.