Five golden rules for deciding on any new social network

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First it was Facebook and Twitter, then came Google+ and now Pinterest. How are you supposed to know whether your business should adopt every social network that pops up? Follow these five golden rules…

Anxiety is what I hear from business owners whenever a new social network becomes popular. They’re already pulled into so many directions in their business and now they have to decide what to do with ____________ ( insert the social network of the moment, currently Pinterest).

Business owners need to make a sound decision about investing in any new social network. This decision needs to be made without the hype, fear or the anxiety of missing out.

Here are the golden rules for evaluating any new social network.  They are timeless and they can be applied each time a new network comes to town. And believe me, there are many more to come.

1. Research user profiles and compare with your target market

It’s very important to know who uses this social network.  You can learn so much about a network, even without using it by using online tools such as presentations, white papers, research and infographics to learn more about the demographic data of this network and compare it with your target market to make a quick assessment.

For example, in this infographic about Pinterest you quickly find out that 80 percent of its users are female. If your products are mainly bought and used by males, there may not be an imminent business value in using Pinterest for your business.

2. Spend time familiarising yourself with the network or get a guided tour

I’m a big believer of trialling any new social network, firstly for personal use. Only after first-hand experience can you start to form an objective opinion and discover features or new uses relevant to your business. Unfortunately, you will have to be patient and engage with the network for a period of time to make the right assessment. Twitter is a great example, as it can provide businesses with wonderful  opportunities but it takes a while to get used to and recognise the benefits. Many businesses will drop out before they’ve reached this point.

If you can’t experiment with the network personally, find someone who understands your business and who uses the network professionally to give you a guided tour. This way, you can quickly understand how it will or won’t work for your business.

3. Assess your resources and decide on the investment

Let’s be honest here, you’d like to have a go at everything but time constraints mean this isn’t practical. Before you decide to invest in any new social network, it’s best to take a look at what you have. Do you have time? Do you have an employee who can do a good job with this? Do you have money to spend on related tools, software or professional support? Do you have the desire and motivation to support this investment?

It’s vital to look at what needs to be done and decide on the next step. Some tasks are better delegated or outsourced and some are even better cancelled all together if the level of investment is too high or it isn’t the right type of investment for the moment.

4. Decide on your goals and key timelines/milestones

Any business decision made around use of a social network needs to be clearly mapped out within your business. Even if you’re approaching it as a small experiment, it’s essential to decide what you’re trying to accomplish. What kinds of results would make you happy? When would you know a) it is working and it’s time to invest more and b) it isn’t working and it’s time to pull the plug. Will these decisions be based on KPI’s such as leads generated, database growth and website traffic? The big picture decisions will flow on from these answers.

5. Act fast, think of the opportunity costs

We are living in fast-paced times. Opportunities are grabbed by not the smartest or the best equipped business, but by those who move in fast – including your competitor. Being involved in a network can have many business rewards, but market recognition and PR opportunities are mostly enjoyed for the early adopters.

A prevailing business philosophy of today’s market is to not be concerned with being perfect or fully prepared. Many businesses make quick decisions and if that decision is to move forward, they’ll continually improve and adjust on the way. It’s more important to make this decision early on, regardless of the nature of that decision.

These five golden rules will be here for you every time a new social network appears or becomes popular. Keep this post close to your bed or bookmark it in your iPad and laptop. Re-read if you find yourself in a state of anxiety about how to deal with new social networks.

  • http://www.AkosFintor.net Akos Fintor

    Great tips.

    I’m not sure if Pinterest is for me though.

    • http://cenkbaban.com/ Cenk Baban

      Thakn you Akos.

      Glad you say that about Pinterest, because it is exactly the purpose of this article: To help you in making that decision. Today Pinterest and tomorrow whatever the new social network that becomes popular.

  • http://www.mosaictec.com Sarah

    While there has been a lot of buzz about the value of Pinterest for business to consumer companies, I haven’t seen a compelling reason for B2B companies to join this social networking site en masse. The same way a visual site like Tumblr isn’t going to aid many B2B companies, Pinterest does not have much to offer a company that does not thrive on pictures of products. For now, Twitter and Google + will continue to be the dominate networks for B2B brands.

    Sarah
    Mosaic Technology
    http://www.mosaictec.com

    • http://cenkbaban.com/ e.g. John Smith

      I am with you on that Sarah. It is all about finding out about any new social network so that you can make a decision similar to yours based on your business requirements.

  • http://blog.hudsonhorizons.com/ Rania

    Great article! If your business wants to know how to capitalize on Pinterest’s explosive growth, here’s a great article on Pinterest SEO for businesses: http://www.bit.ly/GBhFrc

  • http://www.wrdconstructions.com.au/blog Tash Hughes

    While I agree with your points – it’s a great way to make a decision on what suits your business – I can’t see that many time-poor business people can put that much effort into a platform that may well be of no value to them. I know it is the research and trial stage that is very time intensive so I do a more superficial check of the platform to decide if it is even worth a thorough investigation. If not, I usually note a second review a bit later when the platform has developed a bit more.

    Likewise, jumping in fast may work well in some businesses but if your target audience does not get in fast there is probably no need for you to rush in either. I think your first point is the most critical – determine who is using that platform and compare that to your own audience.

    Thanks for the in depth decision making process.

  • http://www.visibletechnologies.com/ Jack Martin

    I think a big part of this is analyzing whether you have the resources to add another social network, like you said. I think it’s a much better strategy to do fewer social networks, and do them better. Often times, an industry’s fanbase will be obviously more prevalent on certain networks, which makes choosing pretty easy.

  • Clayton Auclair

    If you’re into social networking, you might want to check out this new one that’s starting to pop it’s head out lol http://www.Formvote.com

  • Hattie Sturgill

    This new network is pretty good for getting honest feedback from friends, etc. Check them out http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rTXst44fqJU