Everyone is excited about the power and influence of social media. Technology has facilitated a way for people to conduct real-time conversations from across the room and across the globe. Social media represents the opportunity for you to spread the word about your business to a huge and interested audience with ease and at your convenience at a relatively low cost. Social media is an advertising dream come true — when, that is, it’s used intelligently and responsibly.
Like all technology, social media is constantly evolving. And true human nature, people often become excited and overzealous at the prospect of using technology to connect with an even larger audience. It seems there’s a new social media site or trend coming down the pike every day. Some may enable you to connect more effectively with your audience, while others are merely gimmicks that will ultimately waste your time and that of your social media community. How do you know which trends are worth your time and effort to investigate further and which you can safely ignore? Here are some ways to help you filter out which to heed and which to let slide by:
- Stay true to your social media strategy. (You do have a social media strategy, right?) While it needn’t be a comprehensive plan, you should have a basic idea of why you're participating in social media, how you communicate with your community, what you hope to gain from it and some way to measure those elements. Staying true to your strategy represents integrity on your company’s part. Look for legitimate value to you and to your community before jumping on any new social media bandwagons.
- Beware of unrealistic hype. Listen with a critical ear to claims of incredible results and dazzling statistics. What are the trend’s proponents really measuring? Is that a metric that means something concrete for your social media campaign — or is it just an attempt at making something meaningless seem significant?
- Evaluate its potential for “spam” factor. Whether a new trend is effective or not, you don’t want to be guilty of spamming your community. Your social media fans do not appreciate hearing from you too often or you being too self-promotional. Remember, social media is about give and take within the community, so don’t let anyone convince you that more is necessarily better.
- Consider motive of those who are promoting it. Think not only about what’s in a social media trend for you — but about what may be in it for its promoters? Is there a chance that they are disguising an attempt to drive traffic to themselves as a beneficial trend for you?
- Consider your community. People appreciate consistency. They don’t want to jump through needless hoops, download programs or visit other sites just to connect with you. Your community is no doubt connected to you for the value you provide and not for your cutting edge tactics. Avoid any trend that will alienate, confuse or frustrate your loyal followers.
While it’s important to remain agile and current with your social media efforts, it’s of equal importance to avoid seeming flighty by jumping on every new trend. The wisdom is in knowing the difference between a substantial, useful, social media tactic and one that becomes a popular trend because it’s new and shiny. Careful consideration of your overall social media strategy and your online community will help you safely ignore those trends that won’t benefit your marketing efforts and adopt the ones that will.
Image by Flickr user Peter Kaminski