Let’s pretend it’s the summer of 2006. You’re the director of marketing for a boutique youth clothing line that targets high school and college students, and you need a relatively cheap solution to reach them where they interact online.
Your solution, and the solution of countless other companies, is MySpace.
MySpace was doing massive numbers and was still on the rise, and the return on investment for building your following there seemed great. You could improve your customer loyalty, and set yourself up to generate tons of repeat business.
We all know what happens next. In the span of one year traffic drops by nearly 50%, never to return again, and all that effort and money goes down the drain.
Here today and gone tomorrow is an unfortunately common story on the internet.
Remember when AOL ruled the web? Exactly.
If your brand is going to sustain itself online you have to use strategies that apply across all social media platforms.
When you have a platform-independent social media strategy you’ll need to modify some of the specific tactics a little bit depending on each platforms’ code of conduct and features. However, as long your overall strategy is based on sound social marketing principles, then when the next major shift in social network popularity happens you’ll still be able to sustain your online engagement with your customers.
Here are four key principles to consider when developing a channel-independent social media strategy.
1. Understand your business objectives.
Why are you on social media to begin with? Is it to provide customer support and problem solving? Or are you looking to improve your customer retention and grow your number of repeat purchases?
Once you determine why you’re on social media, it makes it much easier to decide what kind of content you’re going to create and whether or not a new social media platform is worth joining. All you have to do is look at its potential for delivering your message and meeting your social media goals, and if it looks like it’s a good fit create a page to test out.
Keep track of the results, and you can decide whether to keep it or close it down based on whether or not it continues to show promise.
2. Build your following across platforms.
Having your customers and followers subscribe to more than one social media profile for your brand is a great way to secure yourself against the potential downfall of a social media platform.
Customers and fans that are interested in your brand and its content want to connect with you in multiple ways and on multiple platforms, so give them the chance!
Make sure you let them know there are multiple ways to engage with you.
3. Produce content your audience couldn’t live without.
The key question to ask yourself about the social media content you publish is, “If we stopped posting today, would our fans miss us?”
If the answer is no, you need to do a better job of engaging with them and providing them with posts that are relevant and remarkable. If your posts are a central piece to their lives, they will be sure to follow you to whatever new social media platform is popular in the future.
4. Enable all-way communication.
It’s been said many times before but it bears repeating: social media is social.
That means it only thrives when communication goes in every direction. The objective is not just to have a one- or two-way conversation directly between you and your fans, but to also get your fans to engage with each other.
If you can develop a community around your brand’s story and the issues that are important to you and your customers, then once again your fans will follow you to whatever the popular social media platform of the future is in order to remain a part of the group.
As the power of technology continues to increase, so does the speed at which change happens.
Social media platforms will come and go, but if you build a comprehensive strategy based on solid social marketing principles, your customers, or at least your most important ones, will follow you. But they will only do so if your social strategy is fundamentally sound and can be implemented on whatever new platform shows up tomorrow.
So the big question is…. is your social media strategy headed for disaster or are you channel-independent?