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Should I Stay or Should I Go? How to Decide Which Social Channels to Join — and Leave

Even if your company jumped in as an early adopter of social media, it’s likely your brand has been creating social content for less than a decade.

Now that channels like Facebook and Twitter are hitting their tween years, brands need to take a look at the channels they’re using and consider which ones are effective, which ones they should consider joining, and which ones they need to leave.

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But how do you make those decisions? It varies for each organization, but there are some common questions all marketers can ask themselves to determine if their brands should stay… or go.

If I go there will be trouble . . .

Though leaving a channel — or never joining it in the first place — could be advantageous, the last thing you want to do is leave if there’s value in still being there. So before you close up shop on a social channel, consider the following:

  • Is there SEO or brand reputation value? Even if your brand isn’t engaged with as much as you might like on a particular channel, there may be some value in brand reputation or SEO found there. For example, if you have spent years attaining a large Twitter audience, it may make sense to still have some sort of presence on the channel given the inherent SEO and brand reputation value that the Twitter account gives you — even if people don’t engage much with your content there.larger-jaybaer-tweet
  • Where is your competition? Is your competition killing it on Periscope? You may not want to depart the channel altogether and leave a monopoly for the rival brand. Just make sure you’re learning from the competition and improving on their efforts — not just watching them do better than you.
  • Do people rely on your channel? For many brands, social channels are about more than just messaging efforts — they’re also tools that allow for enhanced customer service. For example, if a consumer knows where to go to express a concern and feels confident that they can get a response from your organization, you have an opportunity to retain a user and build brand loyalty with your response. Even if your consumers aren’t sharing your content, your social channels give you the opportunity to continue to build relationships.

And if I stay there will be double . . .

Just because your organization has been on a social channel for years, that’s no reason to stay there. Ask yourself these questions:

  • Can we continue to support this channel? If you are like many companies, you’ve been busy the last few years collecting social networks the same way people used to collect Beanie Babies — without an abundance of thought or foresight. We all know what happened to Beanie Babies. Now, how about Meerkat? Or Vine? Don’t keep pumping money into something that will likely never give you a return on your investment.
  • Are we willing to devote the resources to doing this the right way? You can’t just throw more social channels at a junior-level social media associate or intern and expect your brand to be successfully represented. If you add social channels, add the staff to support them — or decrease the publishing you do on other channels. Whatever you do, don’t just lump “social media” into one pile and say that new channels can continue to be handled by the same staff. Something has to give.
  • Does this channel support our brand identity? Just because you are hearing about the merits of a social channel at content marketing conferences and on podcasts, this doesn’t mean that your brand is obligated to join or stay on a channel. If it’s not a good fit, it’s not a good fit, period.

The savviest marketers determine how well a channel enables their brand to tell its stories. A good example of this is how Lowe’s is using Snapchat to share how-to videos that users find valuable.

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American Express on Tumblr, however, might leave you scratching your head. For example, what does this post mean? Again, don’t be on a channel just to be there. It makes no sense. You don’t need to be among the vanguard on every new channel. Let others kick the tires first, then determine if you should join.

So ya gotta let me know, should I stay or should I go?

Now that you know the questions you need to ask and the nuances you need to evaluate, consider this a quick reference to help you make your final decision on the following channels:

Facebook

Stay or Go? Stay.

Why? Facebook is like the Walmart of the Internet. Even if you don’t like it, you kind of have to go there from time to time. Facebook may not be the top choice for younger generations, but an organization without a Facebook page would certainly be missing a large opportunity to share its messages.

Tip: Take advantage of the live video functionality on Facebook. You can bet that if Facebook is promoting something as heavily as they are promoting Facebook Live, your reach will only increase if you start to use it.

Twitter

Stay or Go? Go… unless…

Why? Twitter seems like it mostly consists of marketers trying to market to other marketers, and if that sounds like you, then stay. But Twitter’s inability to keep up with safety measures that protect users from harassment and ridicule is well-documented, and the channel’s slowed growth could signal reduced value of the channel.

Instagram

Stay or Go? Stay.

Why? Not only has Instagram grown into a favorite social channel among 18-29 year-olds, but it has also added to its ability to reach the younger generation by copying many Snapchat users’ favorite features.

Tip: Instagram Stories are consistently becoming more and more like Snapchat with one huge difference — they are much more brand-friendly. Test some of your Snapchat content in Instagram Stories to see what kind of engagement you get.

Snapchat

Stay or Go? Stay (for now).

Why: Snapchat didn’t get this big by accident. Having said that, Instagram Stories have unabashedly taken over a lot of the features that Snapchat once was the only home for. Give Snapchat a little time to see how they respond.

Tip: Have a place of business or a specific event that you want to promote? Snapchat makes it pretty easy (and cost-effective) to set up your own On-Demand Geofilter so those Snapchat users who are within the boundary of the filter can promote your business or event for you.

linkedin_logo_initialsLinkedIn

Stay or Go? Stay.

Why? If you are involved in B2B marketing, a LinkedIn account is a must-have. EMarketer reports that more than four out of five B2B marketers use LinkedIn to announce product launches — making it the number one site for B2B product launches on the web.

Tip: Reach out to people who have viewed your profile. There’s a strong likelihood they viewed you in the first place because you or your organization can offer them something they are looking for. Don’t be afraid to make the first contact.

Periscope

Stay or Go? Go.

Why? Made irrelevant by Facebook Live. It was fun while it lasted.

Pinterest

Stay or Go: Stay, as long as…

Why? You have relevant, well-packaged content for women. Otherwise, go.

Tip: More than 75 percent of the saves on Pinterest come from the 1 million businesses on the channel, according to SocialTimes. Use the new business profiles to customize your Pinterest account to promote what is most important to your business’s customers.

Tumblr

Stay or Go? Go.

Why? According to eMarketer, the platform is struggling. Unless it’s a perfect match for your target audience and brand identity, go.

Google+

Stay or Go? Go.

Why? Listen, I know. I fell for it, too. “It’s owned by Google, how could it possibly fail?” Well, we were wrong. All of us. Leave Google+ alone and just hope Google finally just lets the social channel die a dignified death.

YouTube

Stay or go? Stay.

Why? YouTube is still the best place for polished video content. But don’t put all of your video eggs in the YouTube basket. Nearly every other relevant channel has taken a bite of the video market share YouTube once had. This is especially true with the growth in the publishing of live videos.

Tip: Upload the transcript of your videos. This allows for better SEO and makes it easier for people to watch your videos when audio isn’t desirable.

Chad Buleen

About Chad

Chad Buleen is an award-winning journalist, the manager of social messaging for a large international nonprofit, a digital media enthusiast and father of four. Follow him on Twitter .

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