Where do your targets hang out?

I’ve seen a couple of discussions on social media and which network is right for a particular purpose just lately. It’s getting confusing, I agree – there are so many.

The first query came from a colleague in a start-up in which I’m involved. We use Yammer to communicate internally and he was asking why we didn’t just use email. There are loads of reasons; fully searchable communication that becomes a full-blown knowledge base over time is powerful for me and is also a reason to use Slack, Convo, Podio, Jive and any of the rest. It also encourages openness – yes you can send direct messages but the environment nudges you towards sharing.

For clients

Another colleague had a different dilemma. His client wanted some sort of engagement with their end users. The guy thought about a closed Facebook group or a closed LinkedIn group and all of the options listed above, but in the end he decided on Facebook.

This was probably a good option simply because he’d done the research and found that his targets were already on Facebook. They weren’t on LinkedIn. The number of people I’ve seen who decide they’ll start a particular group somewhere and then find it dies because the users just won’t decamp there is stunning. Always, always go where the market actually is and don’t assume they’ll follow you elsewhere.

Caution

This does come with a caveat, though. A few years ago LinkedIn had something called LinkedIn Events. You could publicise an event to all of your contacts, free of charge, and a number of event companies sprung up doing just that. No doubt the events themselves were excellent.

Over time, LinkedIn realised this wasn’t going to make any money and simply represented a cost. So the company announced it would be discontinued.

The uproar was as loud as it was predictable. LinkedIn, said one user, is deliberately destroying my business. This, said another, is what the social media networks are really like.

Well, yes. They’re like businesses, and if a part of the business is neither profitable nor likely to support another profitable area, it’s probably going to be axed. The lesson to learn here, whether you’re starting your own group on Facebook or setting up a Yammer group for someone else, is that you’re in someone else’s playground and you’re probably not paying for it. It’s their territory. Logically, if they want to change the rules, if they want to turf you out, if they want to make it a payable service, they have every right.

Maybe my colleague shouldn’t simply have decided “Facebook” – maybe “Facebook and here’s my plan B” would be better.

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