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Social Media – the 5 Platform Rule(?)

There is a wonderful infographic that is on the blog of Brian Solis showing the social media landscape.

So far it has been retweeted 113o times and if you go to the next page of the link, it has received over 2ooo likes on Facebook.

I do not intend to pick it apart but you will see a similar list of platforms if you hit most share buttons that are now starting to appear on websites and blogs.

The point is that whether it is micro-blogging, social bookmarking, B2B networking or whatever label you wish to use, there are far too many platforms to make sense of the landscape. And, unless you are possessed of a crystal ball, there is no way of knowing if any of the platforms will be around in the next 12-18 months.

When I first stated to look at my own digital portrait, I was quickly seduced by the number of sites, each one claiming to be better than its nearest competitor. At one time, I probably had over 20 profiles that I was trying to maintain. Indeed, if you look hard enough you will see that I have 4 blogs: 2 WordPress, Blogger and Typepad. Right now all my energy is going into the content of this blog but I have not given up on the other 3. I also have 2 Tumblr pages, Posterous, Facebook, Tumblr, YouTube, Picassa, Flickr, FriendFeed and others that I have lost track of.

Going forward it is my intention to cut these down; or at least restrict the content to those that I think have the most applicability to my target market of professional practice (mainly law firms, lawyers, barristers and accountants).

David Meerman Scott has previously said that he has a rule not to go wider than 5 platforms, and in particular that he has no intention of going on to LinkedIn. This approach has certainly worked for him judging by the number of followers he has on Twitter and the attention that his site gets.

Have you got a similar rule – the 5 Platform Rule?

Apart from the obvious time commitment in feeding each platform with remarkable content, there is also the pressing need to keep the profiles live and real and in sync with your brand.

Far from me to be prescriptive, but if I were starting again, I would focus on:

1. A blog;

2. Twitter;

3. LinkedIn;

4. Facebook; and

5. YouTube.

You could certainly, if you were looking at social media from a corporate perspective, drop Facebook and replace it with Slideshare, Scribd or a social bookmarking site. The thing is you need to consider how your audience is likely to best interact with you. Don’t start on the premise that just because they are not on one of the platforms is a reason to give up before you start; but do think through how you can adopt your outbound material to enter into a social dialogue with your clients or referrers.

If all this seems too much like hard work then just go the organic route but be prepared to do some regular pruning to avoid the creep of too many platforms causing you to be distracted from doing something that will earn attention for you or your brand.

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