Test, Test: Why Brands Don’t Need To Be on Every Social Platform

June 1, 2017

Bill Sussman

CEO at Collective Bias
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This article by Bill Sussman, President of Collective Bias, originally appeared on Forbes.

Twitter officially shut down the once-ephemeral video app Vine earlier this year after it failed to generate money. At its peak in 2014, marketers flocked to the app, paying influencers to make funny six-second video clips and share with their huge followings. But as platforms like Instagram and Snapchat released more innovative features, marketers set their sights away from Vine.

Remember Ello? If you’re scratching your head or have only a vague memory of it floating around your brain, you’re not alone. Ello is one of many flash-in-the-pan social networks that launched in 2014 with promises of being the ultimate “anti-Facebook.” At first, everyone wanted an invitation. But it quickly lost traction, only to fade into a role as a niche site for artists.

With the rise of digital and influencer marketing, many brands and marketing firms have been quick to announce that they have influencers/products for sponsored content available as soon as a new social platform is launched (or as soon as an established platform launches a new feature). Yet, the reality of digital marketing is that something can be white-hot one month and dead the next. We have uncovered difficulties working with certain products/platforms that don’t have the ability to be commercially viable due to a lack of proper measurement or reporting. Platforms like Snapchat may not provide enough transparency, making the reporting too manual and unreliable. With that in mind, here’s why brands don’t need to be on every platform right away.

Related Content: An Influencer’s Hands-on View of Instagram Pods

Without learnings comes a lot of wasted money and time. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to take marketing risks. Bypassing new platforms or platform features could result in undetermined possibilities. There’s the possibility of a whole new set of consumers that will resonate with your brand story. But when it comes to social and digital marketing, where you have so many avenues and platforms to share your story on, why wouldn’t you spend the time to thoroughly test the platform before launching campaigns on it? If you move full-steam ahead without testing, you’ll risk losing major resources.

Make A Plan of Attack

To find the results you need to verify whether a platform is worth being on, start here:

    1. Establish clear objectives for what you want out of the platform.
    2. Set a strategy. We have found it’s best to internally test first, client test second. Agencies and brands need the ability to control all variables during testing so you can understand pricing, process, performance expectations and pitfalls.
    3. Test, test, test. Align your testing goals prior to entering into a testing situation. If performance is key, look for products or opportunities that have some benchmarking available. If you are concerned with being first to market, look for partners who will guide you and share returned insights once the test is complete. It’s important to understand the stage of testing with any new initiative and be comfortable with unknown deliverables.
    4. Ensure the platform’s audience is the right audience for your brand. Will they engage the way you want them to? When testing new products, brands should be, first and foremost, concerned with user behavior on specific platforms. For example, if you are looking to jump into using video, Facebook will likely be the best platform to utilize due to the highly shareable nature of video content within the Facebook walls. When looking at audience demographics, consider user experience and engagement flow and then determine if that platform’s primary audience would be likely to perform the actions you’re looking for.
    5. Look at the type of influencers available on the platform. Do they make sense with your product/service? Does their personal voice align with your messaging?
    6. Compare the tests to other platforms you’re on. What works on one platform might not work on another. You’re only as successful as your data.

So, you’ve tested and tested the platform. What does the data say? How does being active on this latest social platform impact your business objectives? Is it sustainable? With Vine, no one was able to measure how it provided value to marketers, which made it unviable.

The key to successful campaigns on social platforms is data backing. It’s important that where content is being created and served up at scale and interacting at scale, there’s data to back it up. Creating benchmarks through testing allows you to understand the impact it will have on your business and show whether being on Facebook Live or Instagram Live or whatever comes next is worth it. If the platform doesn’t have available benchmarks, create your own. If there’s no way to understand impact, what’s the point? Work within that testing framework and you’ll actually deliver results.

As influencer marketing continues to get a larger position at the industry table, there will be a need for smarter tools and a consensus from the marketing industry on standardized definitions of metrics. Standardization allows the industry to grow, so that there’s no ambiguity in what a metric like an impression is or what value an impression provides.


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