Is it worth jumping on a new social media bandwagon?

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It can be tempting to jump on the bandwagon as soon as a new social network starts generating buzz online.

However, here are a few things to consider before devoting your entire social strategy to the ‘next Facebook’.

Every now and again, a new social network will start to take the internet by storm, with droves of influencers, brands and publishers piling onto the service in the hopes of getting in on the ‘next big thing in social’.

After all, you never know when one of them could turn out to be the next Facebook – or Twitter, Instagram, Vine or Snapchat. It’s tempting to try and look like a trend-setter by getting in on the ground floor.

ello          yo

But when was the last time you signed in to Ello? Or thought about Yo? These trendy new social networks enjoyed a huge spike in popularity and funding when they were first launched, but have since faded into obscurity.

Depending on the way you make use of a new social network, it can be a novel way to make an impact with your brand and connect with your consumer base, but there a few things to consider before you jump feet-first onto the bandwagon.

A Google Trends graph showing interest over time in the search term 'Ello', between July 2014 and February 2016. The graph shows consistently low interest with a large spike around late September/October 2014, gradually fading away over the following months.

Ello was the hottest thing around for a few weeks in September/October 2014, but interest in the ‘anti-Facebook’ social network has decisively faded away since.

Learn the lay of the land

Take the time to get to grips with a new social network’s unique features, and consider how you would apply them to your brand or business.

Every hot new social network has a particular appeal that gets users signing up to it. For example, Ello was anti-commercial, which meant brands needed to use caution when considering their strategy.

Successful brands on Peach have mastered combining words and images in a savvy way.

Don’t just see it as a new outlet for reposting material from your existing social channels. Unique, tailored content will have more of an impact and give users on the new platform a reason to follow you over there.

Think about who the early adopters will be

Consider the new site’s userbase; are they your audience? While there don’t seem to be any hard statistics out there about who early adopters of a new social network are likely to be, it’s possible to make an educated guess.

The first to sign up to a new social media platform will usually be digital enthusiasts and tech influencers. Many will be young people, but just as many tend to be members of the previous generation who have seen many a digital innovation grow from the ground up and are used to getting in at the beginning.

The type of platform can also be a big factor in who its early adopters will be.

Ello’s minimalist style and focus on visuals led to the site becoming popular with photographers and design enthusiasts, while Pinterest’s earliest users were notable for being the exact opposite of the tech crowd we expect on most social platforms.

A screenshot from the social network Ello, showing a beautiful piece of artwork from a site user featured prominently as the page header. Below, a curated feed of "Trending" posts shows various artistic photographs posted to the site by Ello users.

Ello’s simple style and focus on visual content has attracted a community of art and design lovers

With a relatively small pool of users and a minimum of ‘noise’ for your message to get lost in, the early stages of a social network can be a great opportunity to make a big impact. But if the demographic you’re trying to reach isn’t on the platform, you’re better off focusing your efforts elsewhere.

Brand verification

This is a simple, but important factor to consider: does the platform have a verification system (like Twitter’s ‘blue tick’ and Vine’s green ‘V’ badges) to distinguish you from imitators?

As Mike O’Brien pointed out in his article on Peach last month, brand and business verification on social media is important for consumer trust, as well as to ensure that brands have an authentic voice on social platforms.

Newer platforms often won’t have such a system in place when they’re starting out, so consider letting your followers on other channels know about your presence on the new site – or lack of – and keep an eye out for impersonators.

A screenshot from the Peach app listing the accounts a user is friends with or following. It shows the users Merriam-Webster, The Huffington Post and Team Peach, followed by Taylor Swift at the bottom. The text underneath reads "Waiting for Taylor Swift..."

Did I just friend request Taylor Swift on Peach? Probably not…

Don’t ignore your other platforms

New social networks can seem like a blank slate with endless possibilities, and experimenting with them to find what works is definitely a good idea. But make sure you’re also taking the time to make your established social media presence as effective as it can be.

Considering how a new social platform fits in with your wider brand presence and image is a good way to accomplish both of those things at the same time.

Take Red Bull, an early adopter of Instagram, which uses the platform to enhance its high-octane, adrenaline-fuelled brand image with stunning photos and innovative video content featuring death-defying stunts.

Or Nestlé Drumstick, which created the first branded Periscope stream depicting what people were doing to celebrate the first day of summer.

A screenshot of Red Bull's Instagram page, featuring a grid of photographs and video thumbnails of people sailing, rock-climbing, snowboarding and taking part in other extreme sports.

Ultimately, social media is about building and connecting with communities, and to do that well, you need to focus your efforts on just a few. Above all, don’t try so hard to have a presence everywhere that you aren’t present anywhere.

When used effectively, new platforms can be a great addition to your existing social media strategy, even when they don’t last. Just don’t expect all of them to be the next Facebook.

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