Guest post by Harrison Kratz
Unless you’ve been under a rock since the beginning of 2012, by now you’ve heard of little thing called Pinterest.
While I haven’t given in to the craze yet, it’s impossible to ignore its meteoric rise in the world of social media, not just within our industry but in mainstream adoption.
Social Media and marketing teams have been scrambling to figure out a strategy for Pinterest, and rightfully so – it’s a force to be reckoned with from a branding and a business-driving perspective.
This is also a good time though for said teams to re-evaluate their adoption of new networks into their overall strategy.
Here are some questions to ask yourself as you develop a strategy for social networks, both new and old.
Is your audience part of the network? Are they active? This question should not only alter your strategy but could effect whether you’re going to be present at all.
I manage a community for an online MBA program; potential MBA candidates aren’t really on Pinterest yet, so there really isn’t much reason to put stock into a strategy at this point and time.
However, a fashion or retail company has to be on there because their audience is active and present on the network.
Does your brand message fit the network?
Even if your audience is on a certain network, it’s very important to listen and understand the tone of conversation before jumping in.
You could find out that your overall brand message doesn’t even fit the nature of the network. If that is the case, it’s best to re-evaluate and weigh the costs of altering your overall message for a network, or if success can be found by sticking to your preexisting messaging.
How close to your bottom line is the network?
I still believe that social media is about relationships and engagement, but we are far enough along in this medium to understand how to drive quantifiable results that influence a company’s bottom line.
That aspect of marketing should influence your adoption of a new network.
There should be an understanding about how your presence will influence the bottom line and help drive results for the company as a whole.
How will you define your presence?
Good communications professional don’t just look at a network and are satisfied with just being present. A good communicator look for ways to define the company’s presence vis-a-vis its competitors and to get the most out of their engagement in a creative and distinct way that is clear to their audience.
So ask yourself: do I have an opportunity to differentiate my brand’s voice, and how can I clearly display that to those on the network?
Will this be a supporter or driver?
This question shouldn’t steer you away from a network but it can definitely influence the time and resources you invest in addition to the strategy you develop.
Some networks support a brand’s mission and some are drivers of the business.
For my community, Facebook is a supporter of the brand, but Linkedin is a driver of business and leads, because that is where our target market is interacting the most.
Each network is different for each brand. It’s important to figure out where the new networks fit into your mix.
Harrison Kratz is the Community Manager for MBA@UNC, a top online MBA program from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He sticks to his entrepreneurial roots as the founder of the global social good campaign, Tweet Drive. You can connect with him on Twitter, where he’s @KratzPR.
I thought this was a terrific post, Harrison (as you know!). Don't know if this is supplementary to, or included in the subtext of, some of your points, but I think something else we need to consider is, on an internal/staffing/management level, which are the networks the people who will be managing them gravitate towards?
Because (and bear with me here) using a social network successfully means being smart, strategic, creative and energetic with it. Which means the people managing it/doing the hard work have to really like participating in that network... and everyone has different preference. For example, you could have someone who hates LinkedIn - which could be a significant driver of business - and therefore manages it apathetically... see what I mean?
Great post Harrison! I especially liked this point, "will this be a supporter or driver". Figuring out the time and resources you should invest in a particular platform is going to vary per organization and it's definitely an important factor.
YourSocialFans.com can help you attract thousands of followers that you can keep informed about any of your product or service offerings instantly. By bringing you a targeted crowd of buyers all you need to do is give them an offer they can’t refuse! Branding is also another successful tool Twitter can provide for your business. As more and more people become followers of your page it builds trust in them and they are more likely to buy from you than your competitor, because they have been following the brand and it’s a brand they trust.
I think that is why I am more present on some social media outlets than others. As a business you have to really evaluate if that network truly matches what you will be putting out there anyway. Like you mentioned Fashion is huge on Pinterest, but another subject might not be. It also helps to make sure that the product or message you decide to market actually provides a want as well. I can post pictures about cars all day, but if half the audience is female it might not work. I don't want to waste my time putting so much work into a network and not get any feedback. Some networks feature certain products prominently while others don't stand a chance. You really have to just use your own methods of measurements to see what works and what doesn't. Great post Harrison.
Our social media rep recently put together a social media plan for leadership at our company. When we were discussing the networks that made the most sense to populate, we came to the conclusion that Google+ did not have customers who fit our brand.
On the other hand, there are four or five other networks we can use to grow and build our brand.
For me, Twitter has overtaken Facebook as an outreach tool. If I ever step further into design, maybe I'll take up Pinterest.
Good article, friend.
I appreciate your point that we should first check things out before jumping in. Because what if the water's too hot or cold for our purposes? We're all wet, so we may as well swim--but it's not going to be much fun.
I think that's why there's still such a dense cloud of marketers circling around Pinterest. Only a few have found an opening and swooped in; most of us are still trying to figure out if and where we fit. We may have learned our lesson from the free-for-all that was G+.
These are great reminders for companies and institutions interested in incorporating social media into their communications strategies. I think the "shiney new object" syndrome takes over and causes leadership to expect that they have to be everywhere socially without evaluating the value and relevance first. Thanks for sharing your insights!
@Daniel J. Cohen Thanks for the comment! Google+ is always tricky... We've adopted it, but mainly from a SEO point of view since the engagement potential just isn't there.I agree - Twitter is definitely better for outreach but Facebook is still a great place to build and highlight your community.
@ShakirahDawud Pinterest is so interesting in the sense that there is a lot of potential because of the community but it requires a different approach from marketers. I think the hands-off approach works best if you at least provide he tools that allow pinterest users to spread your content within their community.
Thanks for the comment!
@Krista Thank you for the comment! "Shiny new object syndrome" - I love it :)
@Shonali @HarrisonKratz Undoubtedly. There are some G+ fans out there for sure. And I really like what some of them do with it. I have a good buddy who does beer tasting hangouts with his parents and brothers in Minnesota every Sunday. The functionality on those things for small groups is really great.
There is another guy I like who goes by Jordan Peacock that posts a lot of different articles, opens up +1 voting and distills the piece that gets the most +1s... So the crowd is sort of voting on the topic of a written lecture. Academic, high brow... and neato.
There may be a way for me to use it on an individual client level too... just not quite there yet (if only I could clone myself!). It just hasn't really "hit" with the audience I play to at work on a daily basis.