Yesterday, I read an interesting piece from Forbes.com titled “A Eulogy for Google Plus.”  (side note: Here’s a good overview of Google+ (and the demo site for Google+).  You may also want to read about its exciting and rapid growth during its first month as well as its reportedly slumping user activity.)  After reading the story, I was left with a few thoughts:

  1. The author (Paul Tassi) makes some interesting, spot-on critiques and observations of Google+.
  2. His premise that Google+ is dead is likely way overblown.

But there was one additional thought I couldn’t get out of my head: if a social media platform can be launched in late June, heralded as the greatest thing ever, and then proclaimed to be “dead” merely six weeks later, how in the world can a business expect to keep up these changes, incorporate them into their digital marketing and find success in the social media space?

So Many Networks … What’s a Business to Do?
At Dijital Farm, we believe that a solid digital footprint is one of the most important things a company operating in today’s business environment can have.  That footprint (the sum total of a company’s presence on the Internet) can help or hinder the search for new customers, depending on how it is constructed.  And social media is a big component of that footprint.  But with the rapid rise and (supposed) fall of a service like Google+, it can leave many businesses feeling a little bewildered about what social services they should incorporate into their digital marketing strategy.  I’ve had clients ask “should I have a profile on <latest social media platform> for my business?  I’m not sure if it is worth my time and effort and I don’t think anyone really uses <latest social media platform> anyway.”

I’ve heard that question asked about Facebook (700 million+ users), Twitter (175 million+ accounts) and even LinkedIn (100 million+ users).  And I believe the answer, for business owners is found in two places:what are your business objectives and where is your target audience?

Business Objectives
It almost goes without saying, but if you are a business owner, you should know why you are in business.  (side note: if you are unable to articulate that in a meaningful way, then you might want to postpone the discussion about which social network is right for you!).  Business objectives tell us which direction we should be moving in and help you measure success.  When it comes to social media platforms, ask yourself these questions:

  • Will this social media platform help me achieve my business objectives?
  • Is this social media platform a logical fit for what my company is trying to do?
  • Can I reasonably expect to start/participate in a conversation in this social media platform about my business objectives and the changes I’m trying to bring about in the marketplace?

At first, these might seem like easy questions to answer, but take another look at the 3rd question.  Social media is about conversation– two-way conversation.  You have to be willing to engage in give and take with your customers/target audience in social media.  Will this social media platform allow you to do that?  If so, then move ahead.  But if it doesn’t, then you likely need to take a pass.

Where is Your Target Audience?
There’s an old advertising maxim: “wherever your target audience is, you need to be there also.”  Seems like common sense, right?  Unfortunately, many businesses do not stop to ask themselves this critical question.  It is easy to get caught up in the excitement of the latest social media craze and feel like you’ve got to head over there and start spending your time and effort to develop a presence.

While I do advocate that you go ahead and create an account to claim your space/name, you would be better served by checking with your target audience to find out if they are spending any time on that social network.  How can you do this?  Here are a few thoughts:

  • Ask them!  Social media is a great way to take the pulse of your audience.  If you’re already on Facebook and you’re considering establishing a presence on a new social media outlet, ask your fans on Facebook if they use it.  The same goes for Twitter.  And LinkedIn.  And just about any platform out there.
  • Spend a little time on the new social network.  The best way to determine if a new network might be helpful is to go and hangout there for a little while.  You’ll learn a lot by listening in to what others are saying.  A word of caution: don’t setup a company account while you’re initially scouting out the network.  Go as an individual.  It will be easier to listen and (if you choose) to engage with others at the beginning.
  • Find out who they are trying to reach.  New social networks pop-up all the time and they are usually built around a niche audience.  Find out who the network is trying to connect and make sure it is a good fit for your business.
Of course, these are just a few suggestions for you to get started.  By far, the best counsel I can give is patience and try to gain as much perspective as you possibly can.  And, be cautious about someone proclaiming a social network to be the greatest (or worst) thing ever created in the history of all mankind!  They may be right, but they could just as likely be wrong!

About Jon Parks and Dijital Farm
Dijital Farm is a digital marketing consultancy based in Raleigh, N.C.  Jon Parks, in his role as Lead Dijital Strategist with Dijital Farm, helps companies evaluate their digital footprint and develop strategies to improve their footprint and strengthen their business.  Find out more about how Dijital Farm can help by contacting Jon today via e-mail at jparks@dijitalfarm.com or by phone at (919) 901-0485.

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