I confess to being rather anti Google +.  I already work hard to maintain strong networks on the likes of Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, whilst also doing things for work on the likes of YouTube and Slideshare.  So I need another social network to worry about like a hole in the head.  With Google likely to throw all of their weight behind Plus however it seems that it will be here to stay, or they'll be damned trying.

Now my question is, when do you decide to invest your time and effort on a new platform?  Do you wait to see if it takes off or do you try and establish some first mover advantages and get in there early?

Here I'm going to outline 5 potential ways you can tell if joining the new kid on the block is going to be worth your time.

 

  1. What's their target market?  Most new social networking sites have a target demographic.  It shouldn't take too much research to find out what this is and then ask yourself whether this market fits with your own.
  2. How much time will it take to become established?  Some social media afford you the luxury of getting immersed quite easily, whilst others require many hours.  How long will it take you to create your profile?  How long to become established as a worthy player?  How much time will you need to devote to managing your new community?
  3. How do you plan to use the new community?  The answers from the first two questions should give you an idea of how you can use the new community.  Will it be for a particular product for instance?  Maybe you'll use it as a customer service channel?  Ask yourself how this fits into your overall marketing mix.
  4. How will you define success?  Whilst ROI shouldn't be the focus of your community building efforts it is still important to know why you're there and what you hope to achieve.  As with many new ideas it is best if you set small goals initially for a pilot launch and build from there if those goals are met.  That way you have a proof of concept and can attract larger internal resources.
  5. Is the platform likely to be around in a years time?  The likes of Facebook and LinkedIn are well established so you can enter them with confidence.  Google have already scrapped a number of social media efforts so there must exist higher risk with Google +.  You need to know if your efforts will be wasted and if the site will have longevity.

For most companies, and most social media departments, there will be limited resources, be that in time or money.  So you need to focus your effort where they will achieve the best results.  That will mean not plunging headlong into every social network that hits the market.  Hopefully these questions will help you to prioritize your time.

How do you decide whether to enter a new social network?