The past year has brought about major changes to social platforms from Instagram Stories to Facebook Live to Snapchat Discover. Competition in the space is heating up as platforms work to match each other feature-for-feature while working to outpace each other in the process. The social space at the beginning of 2017 is very different than it was at the beginning of 2016, and you can be sure 2018 will be no different.
Still, many marketers have yet to experiment with many of these new features. Maybe because it’s risky. But there’s a risk in not experimenting. That risk is being left behind. After all, Facebook plans to be all video in the next five years. Marketers have to try because we’ve seen them—the brands that are still looking at social and digital like it’s 2011.
This doesn’t mean experiment for the sake of experimenting. It means being smart, moving deliberately and choosing your experiments and what you hope to learn from them strategically.
Understand What’s Worth Pursuing
Not everything deserves marketers’ already limited attention. Look and see if your audience is on a platform or using a feature. If they’re not there consider whether or not they will be there in the future. Maybe there are other benefits to this channel or feature outside of reaching the audience, such as SEO or content syndication. Experiments are not created equal. Choose the ones that offer a chance of helping the business and prioritize.
Know What You Can
Study. Look at how people are using the platform or feature. See if other brands are and how. What are they doing well? What’s not working? Try it out as a user to understand the potential value that can be provided by your brand.
Know What You Don’t Know
You won’t know everything. Benchmarks may not exist. Understand what you hope to learn. For example, does your audience want to interact with you in this way, did they show interest during your experiment, what content worked well and how does this compare to what you're currently doing? KPIs like views, time spent and others can be used to answer some of those questions.
Going in you may not have all the answers, but at the very least, have the questions you hope to answer to see if this experiment deserves further attention following completion.
Make the Case
All of the previous steps make this one that much easier because you are armed with information. You understand the potential opportunity, the role it can play with the audience and what you hope to learn. You should also be able to lay out timing, resources needed, budget requirements to make this experiment worthwhile and maybe even the risks as well as an approach to risk mitigation. This may require building a team and getting others behind the effort.
Execute and Regroup
The next step is execution and evaluating the experiment. How did it answer the questions you set out to answer? Is this worth doing more of? Less of? Never again?
Platforms aren’t going to stop experimenting and launching new features, and new platforms are going to come about. This comes at the cost of deemphasizing old features and, in some cases, old platforms. Don’t let your brand rest on its laurels. At the very least, don’t ignore something new. Ask what it could mean for your brand. If the answer is nothing, at least you’ve thought about it.