How to Tackle a Constantly Evolving Social Media Landscape

You’re not alone if you feel like every time your company gets comfortable with a new social platform, it’s replaced by something shiny and new.

It was approximately one decade ago when Facebook started its meteoric rise and phased MySpace out of the national conversation. Back then, the process took years, but now, it seems like there’s a hot new social media platform every few months. You’re not alone if you feel like every time your company gets comfortable with a new social platform, it’s replaced by something shiny and new.

The anxiety you may fear over adapting to something new is natural, but with social media channels, it’s best to get over your fear and embrace these tools for the unique opportunities they provide to engage your audience visually and improve your storytelling skills.

With the proper research, testing and commitment, there’s no reason to fear the adoption of a new social platform that can strengthen your brand and create new ways to enliven the customer experience.

Embrace new media’s challenges and opportunities

There’s always going to be a learning curve when you master a new platform, especially if its interface and tools are unfamiliar territory. However, that’s no reason to fear its integration. Remember, although there will be hurdles, exciting new possibilities abound.

One of the most common challenges has to do with the evolution of social media itself. Companies are expected to engage with the user as they always have, but in an increasingly smaller space and shorter time frame. On top of that, consumers have more social media outlets to check than ever before, making their time on any one site increasingly fragmented.

Feeding further into this concern, social content is now more specifically tied to a particular platform, requiring marketers to invest extra time to produce unique content for several different outlets. You can’t just tweet out your Snapchat stories or post Instagram screenshots of your Facebook updates and expect to succeed.

But it’s not just the format that changes from one platform to the next–the audiences for each are unique, too. An article that your LinkedIn followers love, for example, might bomb on Facebook or Twitter. This is why your top priority should be educating your team about your clients and their desired audiences. Once that’s understood, selecting the appropriate social media platform will be simple.

At Mitchell, we initially underestimated this difference, but once we discovered the necessity of tooling our message and storytelling specifically for each audience, we found social media success.

Start in the shallow end of the pool

If you think the popular marketing channel you’re currently using is working so well that you don’t need anything else, think again. By being proactive in trying out new platforms, you’ll save resources and stay ahead of the curve.

Don’t be afraid to test out possibilities to see what kind of growth is possible. Try using tools such as SpyFu or WhatRunsWhere to determine what innovative new services your competitors may already be employing. By taking the time to familiarize yourself with the unique attributes of the service, you’ll be prepared to optimize your investment once you commit to a platform.

So how do you know when to stick with a platform and when investing in resources isn’t likely to pay off? Consider the following before moving forward:

  • The service’s standing in the social media landscape: Stories like the diverging fortunes of Twitter and Snapchat have important ramifications for businesses using the services.
  • The audience you hope to reach: If 90 percent of your customer base is older than 40, you’re probably not going to get much out of Snapchat, as the majority of its users are in the 18- to 24-year-old range.
  • Your specific goals for marketing on the platform: Once you understand the purpose of the initiative, you can analyze the tools and costs associated with achieving the desired results.

View new platforms as an opportunity, not a burden

Ultimately, it’s important to remain open to new experiences and not settle for antiquated methods, especially when faced with damning evidence of their ineffectiveness. Customers are constantly looking for new ways to engage with brands, and the technological possibilities created by social media are making it easier for consumers and enterprises alike.

As long as you understand the potential challenges, test various platforms for compatibility with your audience and goals and understand what makes each service unique, you can ensure that your organization is always ready to incorporate the latest and greatest technological solution.

Sarah Clark is the president of Mitchell, an award-winning public-relations firm that creates real conversations between people, businesses and brands.

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Image of confused man with smartphone courtesy of Shutterstock.