By: Zach Parcell
Social media, when used correctly, can be a valuable resource to a business of any size and shape. Social media helps you reach a very targeted audience each and every time. The obvious platforms like Facebook and Twitter have a very large overall database of people and with the right tools and strategy can prove to be very effective. Strong social media campaigns should also include plans for any other social media platforms. A plan doesn’t have to mean you sign up for an account and take part in that network though — there is nothing wrong with saying a network isn’t the right fit for you.
Over the past year it seemed as if a new social network debuted nearly every month and it was common to see business jump on it right away and try to establish a following on this very young platform. Putting time and resources into trying to build a following on a brand new social network will likely take time and resources away from your already established networks.
A few networks that come to mind right away are Pinterest, Instagram, and Vine. Admittedly, I’m not a Pinterest user. My wife uses it all the time and loves it. The majority the things she repins are from other users and not necessarily from brands. I’ve yet to find a true successful social media plan for businesses when it comes to Pinterest. Sure, it has worked for a few, but those have either been really large brands or something with a very niche audience. Plus, that niche audience is likely female.
Instagram and Vine have really led the pack in my mind in both brilliant social media use and horrific social media use. Whenever someone tells me they want to get their brand on Instagram I always ask what they would share. Often times I hear about an upcoming event they are a part of or a campaign they are currently running. Ok, great. You have content for the next week or so. I always follow up with a question about what will they share after that. Typically I get the response of “we’re not sure.” That tells me they aren’t ready for Instagram. You need to make sure you know what you’d share at least a few times in a week. The only way Instagram is effective is if you are consistently active on Instagram. Without a consistent plan the growth will be slow and frustrating. Plus, nothing is worse than finding a brand’s Instagram page and seeing they haven’t published a photo in weeks. I’ll admit, if you find my personal account on Instagram I don’t share as often as I should — likely because I spend too much time on my brand’s account. Speaking of which…when will we be allowed to switch accounts on the Instagram app without needing to log in and out? Ok, I digress. First world social media problem.
As I was saying, there is little doubt that Instagam could work for a brand though. Ikea’s Russian division launched a website within Instagram. Instagram account ikea_ps_2014 with the use of tags operates exactly like a website you’d find online, but does it all within Instagram. It’s brilliant. It isn’t just a brand sharing photos of their products. It’s interactive and something that keeps you locked on their images for a while. No, you don’t need to go to this extreme, but it does show that when done correctly, it can be useful.
Just because a social network exists, doesn’t mean you need to be on it. Don’t be on Instagram just to say you’re a part of it or to share a photo every now and then. What is the benefit to it? What kind of commitment will it take from you to make it work? Is your core audience also on this new network? Do you have a long term plan for what you’d share on the new network? If you do have a plan and it is where your audience is, then it might not hurt to sign up. If things don’t quite line up right for you, then it might be worth passing on for now. Focus on what is working for you and concentrate your efforts there.
Social media can be a very valuable tool, but it takes time, effort, and a plan to make it truly successful. Be careful not to spread yourself too thin in areas you don’t need to be.