So, marketing compatriots. Let me ask you: what are you plans for MySpace this year? Or Orkut? What role does Friendster play in your brand strategy? While you may be giggling about the ridiculousness of those questions, you might have taken them quite seriously a few years ago. As an aside, I remember that when I met with the MySpace folks at the height of their popularity I was surprised both by the outrageous demands they were making and by their refusal to acknowledge that nothing seems to last forever in the digital world. Oops.
The business planning cycle tends to begin at budget time and if you’re a media or marketing person you’re often asked for a fairly detailed plan of attack. I always prefaced my presentation with a broad disclaimer. “What I am presenting is accurate and true for right now but I can’t promise you that it will be the best plan of attack in a month and certainly not in six months. I can live with the budget requests I am making but please allow me flexibility with respect to the channels and media we use.” Most of my bosses were great about that.
There is no way a social media plan you’ve developed a year prior is accurate. As with the examples above, circumstances change. While I don’t believe most companies can support a major presence on EVERY platform which emerges, I do believe that it’s important to be aware of all of them and to test. It’s really OK to cross-post great content every so often! Those tests need to be done with your key performance indicators in mind, and if an emerging platform doesn’t give you the ability to measure them, it’s probably not worth your time. What’s very important is not to dismiss anything as “a fad” or “for kids.” Remember that Facebook began as something for college kids and once it opened up the brands that were early adopters had an advantage (well, at least they did until Facebook destroyed a brand’s ability to engage their fans easily without paying).
The message today: don’t follow the plan; let the plan follow your customers. Those plans should be etched in sand and not in stone. Are yours?