When It Comes to Social Networks, Choose Wisely My Friends

By Megan McMahon Last month, I stated that there’s more to social networking than just Facebook. Hopefully by now, most of you can agree with this statement. But there IS such a thing as agreeing with my statement so much so that you want to get your brand on every social network that ever existed. Well slow down there enthusiastic brand manager! Not every social network is for everyone or every brand. If you’re a brand that’s willing to put themselves out there and test things, more power to you BUT please do not expect that every single social network is going to work magic for your brand reputation. Nonetheless, there really is more than just Facebook out there but really deciding which networks to be on can be challenging. Here are 5 questions to ask about your brand before you dive into the world beyond Facebook…

1. WHO do you want to reach? Each social network has a distinct set of individuals using it. Naturally Facebook basically owns the world with upwards of 850 million users. But the smaller networks have certain people using them. For example, Foursquare swings mostly urban adult. Slideshare on the other hand might stick out to the older demographic who just want to learn about a brand’s background. Figure out WHO you’re trying to reach, and do your research on the social networks these people are using.

2. WHAT is your brand personality? Every social network has a certain personality to it just like your brand should have a personality to it as well. How your brand wants to be perceived by the public should greatly influence what social networks you get into. If your brand wants to go viral and have (for the most part) one-way communication to an audience, StumbleUpon might work! But if you want to keep the conversation going with fans the place to be is Facebook, Twitter, or even Google+!

3. WHERE are you? (aka are you a location?) The answer to this one is easy: if you answered NO to “are you a location” then you should NOT be on SCVNGR. As I stated in my previous blog, SCVNGR works so well for Buffalo Wild Wings because their customer interaction takes place on site. Location based services are tough to get to work when you don’t have a physical location that people can visit you at. The Coca-Cola’s and Wheat Thin’s of the world just can’t compete with McDonald’s and Macy’s in this realm but hey, if you’re willing to take the risk, go for it!

4. WHEN (or how long) do you want your message to be seen? The message that your brand is trying to get across via social networking will determine which social network would be best. It might be too soon to tell but right now it seems as though Google+ is the place to go for long lasting content and conversation building. Facebook was the go-to for this but with the changes to the News Feed this is definitely shifting. Coming up with the type of content you want to share as a brand on social networks is important BEFORE jumping into StumbleUpon to try and spark a conversation immediately with a new fan, which I don’t recommend doing at all.

5. WHY? Yes, simply just WHY. Before you get into ANYTHING on social, have a strategy. Once you build the road map for where you are, where you want to go, and what you want to achieve figuring out which social networks are best for your brand will come easily. Starting out blindly on social media is where most brands fail. Whether it's the big picture goal or the day to day plan, have a strategy for everything.

When it comes to deciding what social networks are best for you, just ask the 5 W’s and do your research. Having a plan and a reason before jumping in will lead to success!

How have you determined which social networks to join either personally or for a brand? Have you seen any unique campaigns from brands on a social network that you normally wouldn’t expect? Let me know in the comments!