Too many social media platforms, too little content

Jordan Furlong blogged yesterday about playing catch up with Facebook and the power of a blog. I agree with him that it is far better to try and maintain control of the platform through which you are generating your content. However, the trouble with that approach is that you still need to be found.

RSS/Google Reader have not taken off, and I have certainly read that more people now rely on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn for their content. And then there is Stumbleupon, another great source of material.

David Meerman Scott advocates keeping to no more than five platforms and has blogged about why he is not on LinkedIn.

Which comes first: the platform or the content?

I have mentioned the need to have a strategy for social media. Largely that has been focused on managing people, rather than the content. But it occurs to me that as well as your website strategy (assuming that you have one) you need to have a focused approach to:

  1. Market watching.
  2. Beta testing of new platforms.
  3. Cross-posting of your content.
  4. The number of platforms that you will work with.
  5. Deciding if different content will be targeted at different platforms?
  6. Who will manage the process?
  7. How will you measure success?

Right now I have the following platforms:

  • WordPress (this blog and the original self-hosted version);
  • TypePad;
  • Blogger;
  • Posterous;
  • Pinterest;
  • Tumblr;
  • Slideshare;
  • LinkedIn;
  • FriendFeed;
  • Google Reader;
  • Facebook;
  • Scribd;
  • YouTube;
  • Twitter (@Ju_Summerhayes and @0neLife);
  • Evernote;
  • Gist;
  • ExFm;
  • Stumbleupon;
  • Picassa;
  • Flickr;
  • Squidoo.

I have a job, as you can imagine, to keep the profiles up to date, and a number are beginning to wither.

I have the benefit of Google analytics and I do monitor that as well as Hootsuite, LinkedIn and TwentyFeet but, overall, I have clear idea where I want to go with my content and the best places to engage. Right now I am spending time on Tumblr, if only because I have fallen in love with the feel and look of the platform. I saw that Copyblogger put out a post how Tumblr had driven traffic to a website but that is not the reason why I am engaging.

In time, I feel certain that I will narrow things down considerably, and probably focus more of my time on the WordPress blog (still in development), YouTube and Scribd/Slideshare. I intend to produce higher value material, and scale back my blogging efforts (at least in terms of the number of times I post or the amount of words each blog contains).

In hindsight I wish I had been able to speak to me now in which case I would have said to stick to probably no more than two or three platforms and make those work before moving on to others: 20/20 vision and all that.

If you are thinking about climbing on the social media bandwagon then spend time thinking about your content, and how you feel you can best engage with your audience. Twitter is great for real time material but, the problem is, without repeat mentions, your material gets lost quite quickly. On the other hand LinkedIn, particularly the groups, tends to have much greater longevity.

Social media is a moving feast and you need to keep your efforts under constant review. Don’t lose sight of the fact that your business goals must dictate your social media efforts and not the contrary – tail wagging dog, no.

Crucially, in all your analysis, you need to keep field testing (“Ready, Fire, Aim”) your content. I have come across so many blogs where there is no engagement judging by the zero Re_Tweets, no +1’s and no Facebook likes. If you do find that the numbers go up on one post, there is nothing wrong with enquiring what it was about that post that your fans and followers enjoyed. Feedback is key.

And then when you have built up momentum, you can start on the arduous road of ROI. I say arduous road because inevitably it will involve you in some cultural issues as to how you capture the data about client instructions/wins. You need to start thinking how you will ascertain how that client came to you in order if you can measure if the effort was worth the candle.

I love social media. It is more than a job. In fact I don’t even see it that way. It is an extension of who I am. Perhaps that is why I have so many platforms. My curiosity always seems to get the better of me. Let’s hope they don’t release any more some day soon.

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