Look Beyond the Usual Social Media Suspects

Mike Samec
Mike Samec

Have you fallen into a social media rut? Do all of your client program recommendations consist of the obvious channels: Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and LinkedIn? These are excellent channels, each offering connection opportunities for businesses. But what about including other social media networks in your plans? Are they worth exploring? How do you recognize the next “big channel”? Here are a few approaches you might take.

The “Program-Plus” method. Start with the obvious blue-chip channels and set aside a small budget for experimentation. Once you have established your presence on the primary sites, add a new channel, allow it to run long enough to gauge its effectiveness and decide if you will keep the experimental network. You never know when you might find a small but passionate audience segment on a niche platform hungry for information shared where they prefer to find it.

The “fish where the fish are” method. Who is your target audience? Where do they spend their time? You can find out by surveying a portion of your audience or someone within the client’s organization may already be part of the niche community you want to address. If so, they can introduce you, saving you time.

Another option is to turn to social listening tools. Social tools can spot trends by channel indicating where the primary discussions are taking place for a particular topic.

Listening can help you stay on top of the evolution of important conversations allowing you to adapt activity and adopt channels where it makes sense to do so.

The “start with what you have” method. The content you already have may suggest networks. If you have videos, the obvious choice is YouTube. Have you considered Vimeo? Perhaps adapting the video to InstaVideo or Vine may be a way to reach a broader group? Pictures obviously are a natural fit for Instagram or Pinterest. Articles may well adapt to Reddit. The response from these channels may surprise you. To quote the Great One (Wayne Gretzky), “you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”

Regardless of method, you must measure. Regardless of the method you choose to start, you must consider how you will evaluate success. It doesn’t cost money to create a social media account, but that doesn’t mean that participation will cost you nothing.

The incremental cost to add another channel may be small but it will add up, especially if you’re devoting the necessary resources to nurture your site(s). Eventually you do have to draw a line. Here is a quick measurement plan:

1. Define your goals. Pick an area of focus. Most campaigns include some combination of Awareness, Consideration and Decision (generate leads, sell something, etc.), but one should be of primary concern.

2. Choose metrics that support your goals.

3. Identify the one key performance indicator (KPI) that ties the campaign to a business objective. For example, if customer service is your area of concern, a possible KPI might be call volume to your call center compared against your trending net promoter score.

4. Track response over time. By comparing response rates to messages on different sources, you’ll observe those that drive performance.

The cost/benefit litmus test. Pinpointing the return on investment (ROI) of social media is challenging. There has been a great deal of discussion about the topic, here’s one simple solution.

We owe it to our clients to hunt down the hidden gems and not to simply default to the usual suspect social media channels. Having a plan and a method of evaluation, you have the opportunity to find the right mix to reach your target audience. PRN


Mike Samec is director of digital strategy at Gibbs & Soell Business Communications. He can be reached at msamec@gibbs-soell.com.