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Before You Open Another Social Account, Read This Checklist

We talk about social here a lot. It’s hard not to, because it makes up such a huge part of our marketing world.

But that world changes so fast! It always seems like just as soon as you’ve gotten into a groove with your social strategy, a brand new social app shows up. Suddenly, everyone’s talking and blogging about how cool and exciting it is, and you’re wondering if your brand is getting left behind.

Let’s call it Social Media Marketer’s Fear Of Missing Out (SMMFOMO). And now that we have an official diagnosis, it’s time to talk about the cure:

A healthy dose of social skepticism.

Some might argue that it can’t hurt to have a social presence on every channel. It’s just more exposure for your brand, right? Not necessarily. The harsh realities of managing too many social accounts can wind up diluting your brand’s impact and inadvertently harming customer perceptions.

So before you download the latest social app and start building your profile, make sure to run through this checklist and see if it checks out:

Does my customer persona live here?

Acquaint yourself with the typical user profile of every new platform. Snapchat, for example, is extremely popular among 18-24 year olds — and on any given day, Snapchat reaches 41% of all 13-34 year olds in the US. These young Snapchat users love to share their “stories” in the form of photos and videos modified with words, graphics, and ever-changing filters. And while there are outliers to every demographic rule, it’s safe to say that if your customer base is over 40 and doesn’t tend to like using video, you won’t be able to reach them on Snapchat.

Go where your customers are. That way, you’ll always have an audience.

Does the platform fit your brand voice and style?

By now you know how your brand looks and talks, so you should be able to imagine how it would be perceived in each app’s unique social structure. For example, if your brand reads youthful and quirky, it’s probably going to seem immature and out of place in a hyper-professional setting like LinkedIn. Likewise, if your brand is mature and intellectual, it’s probably going to stick out like a sore thumb in the filtered eye-candy landscape of Instagram.

Your brand doesn’t have to fit in everywhere. In fact it’s better when it doesn’t, because that makes it all the more authentic.

What does success look like on this platform?

Is success lead generation? Post reach? Conversions? Frequency of engagement such as likes and retweets? Spell out what your specific brand goals are in advance, and start tracking success right away so that later you can justify keeping the account or cutting your losses.

It helps to think of the social process as akin to building a brick house: you have to do it one brick at a time. That is, it takes time to do it right. Give it at least a year on each new platform before you decide whether your brand is truly successful there or not.

What does content creation look like?

How many times per week will you post? What percentage of posts will be original and what will be curated (retweeting or reposting others’ original content)? Of that original content, what does it look like — photos, videos, animated gifs? Who on your team will be in charge of designing or creating the media — and do they have the time for the added work?

Additionally, remember that while you can repackage some content to share across all your social networks, a larger portion of your content should serve a purpose that’s unique to the platform. After all, that’s why you have the platform, right?

What’s my spend for this account?

Take a hard look at your budget and see what you can pay to play on the new app — because you’re probably going to have to pay to leverage any kind of traction.

Advertising costs vary considerably from platform to platform, and some ads will be more expensive than others (Snapchat, I’m looking at you). But when you’re just getting started from zero, paying to boost your posts is a great way to put yourself in front of new followers — especially with the algorithm-weighted feeds that platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are rapidly adopting.

So, do your research and make sure you know if you can afford to experiment with with a new social platform.

Do I really have the time to manage another account?

With any new social account, you need to:

  1. Research and learn about tips, tricks, and best practices unique to the platform
  2. Develop a plan, a strategy, and an editorial calendar
  3. Build out the account profile to match your brand
  4. Follow/friend the right influencers
  5. Post both original and curated content several times per week
  6. Start conversations, join conversations, and otherwise engage followers
  7. Reply to mentions, comments, and DMs within a max of 24 hours
  8. Keep up #5-7 consistently for the life of the account, as well as periodically revisiting #1-4

That’s already a lot for one social account. Now imagine doing this three or four times over! (And forward this list to your friends the next time they suggest that all you do is “play” around on social media all day.)

If you’ve read through all of the above and your new social platform didn’t tick all the boxes, run for the hills. Because it all comes down to the bottom line, and the bottom line is that it’s not worth it to spend your time on any social platform that doesn’t give back.

I’m curious, how many social accounts do you manage? Let me know in the comments below.

Image credit: Evil queen by Greg Guillemin

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