By now, your company likely has an established presence on the 800-pound gorillas of social networking, Facebook and Twitter. Maybe you have even developed custom Facebook apps or are using Twitter as a customer service tool. You've created policy around the use of social networking and have budgeted staff and other resources around social business initiatives. In short, you've got it going on and can sit back and relax a little.
Not so fast. There are dozens of social media sites popping up every day. Not all of them are worth your time and attention, but the ones that are catching the eye and the mindshare of your customers and business partners are the ones that you need to have not only on your radar but in your test lab (even if that test lab is a couple of socially savvy employees setting up accounts and seeing what's what).
The BrainYard has compiled a list of six social media sites that companies should consider the next frontier of social networking. Some are familiar and rising in popularity and/or usefulness, others are less well known, but quickly gaining traction. We recommend that companies experiment with presence on these sites and start to develop a blueprint for how they could be integrated into social media marketing, customer engagement, and customer service initiatives.
When deciding which new platform or platforms to embark on, there are some questions you should be asking. Most importantly, are your customers and business partners on the platform? For example, if your customers are mostly older and male, then Pinterest--which is currently leaning decidedly younger and female--may not be the right social platform for your business.
Next, is the platform's community active? You might determine that a social media site's demographics match perfectly with the customers you have (and the customers you want to have), but if you hear crickets chirping when you go to the site, move along. It's likely not worth your time or money.
This brings us to the next question you should ask: What kind of resources will be required for my company to develop presence on the site? Will you need to delegate a person or people to the site? Will extra content have to be created? Will developer resources be required?
Speaking of resources, before jumping into a new social media platform, you'll want to determine what kind of ROI you can expect. Return may come in many different (and sometimes unexpected) forms, including referral traffic to your website, direct sales, increased brand awareness and decreased help desk calls.