Marketers have to keep open minds about using any medium.

The past decade or so has provided huge fails and unprecedented successes. It’s difficult, if not impossible, to “pick” the next big thing for a client’s media mix.

When a social medium goes mainstream, it deserves attention.

There’s no waiver for skeptics. If it’s a cultural phenomenon – or has the potential to be – it merits consideration as a marketing tool.

Some Social Media Winners

When it premiered, Twitter took seemed to be a time-waster and depository for lunch commentary. It’s still both those things, but several million-fold more valuable as an engagement and research tool – not to mention some pretty entertaining late-night TV segments.

Instagram has long been a thing and just keeps getting bigger with marketers coming up with some pretty clever stuff.

Long dismissed as a “hookup” dating site, the Tinder app is growing into a legitimate advertising platform.

Some Social Media Losers

Then there’s the social media bone yard, filled with fads and big ideas that never panned out or have yet to prove relevant.

But, neither the winners nor losers are sure things. It’s impossible to determine which services will trend up or down and where they might end up over time.

So, How Do We Do It?

Professional marketers pretty much start out the same way anyone else does – by messing around with it. It doesn’t take much to sign up or download an app and start playing.

The approach is a bit different from that of the general public, though.

For marketing professionals, we’re not allowed to judge whether a platform like Snapchat or Periscope is fun or dumb, fad or dud. The process starts with objective experimentation. It doesn’t matter if we love or hate it. Let the masses determine that.

But, we don’t necessarily care about numbers. While active monthly users factor into media planning and social media strategy, it’s only a piece of the equation.

  • Who uses it the most?
  • Do they fit with a given client’s target audience?
  • What kind of potential do we have for quality engagement?

We might even try it ourselves.

We often preach that not all tech or every social medium is for everyone. Does it fit? We must ask the same question of ourselves.

For example, ABC recently added Periscope to the social arsenal to give a behind-the-scenes look at a client event.

This gives us first-hand experience and allows us to try best practices or establish some of our own for use in client strategies.

It really comes down to paying attention.

At its core, marketing is about problem solving. It’s an agency’s job to do the dirty work when it comes to the constant stream of new apps and social media.

Sometimes it’s making a mental note of some nifty tech or a good idea. Sometimes it’s becoming an early adopter.

New social media and features are forever propagating at a pace that can be overwhelming. At the same time, this fast-moving digital landscape affords us fluidity.

Pay attention to everything, especially results. If something’s not working, it’s easy to adapt or move along.


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