How Should Publishers Deal with Platform Overload?

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As a marketer for a media company, the world is your oyster. From SnapChat to Instagram and even classics like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest, you have a wealth of available options to bring into your distribution strategy. If you sit down and ask yourself which you’d like to pursue, you’d likely respond with ‘all of them’—each social media channel and social network brings a unique set of strengths and weaknesses to the table. Why not cast your net wide? The reality, however, is that your team has limited time in the day. And with so many social media channels available to pursue, you may risk spreading your efforts too thin. When it comes to distribution, ‘a little here and a little there’ just doesn’t cut it. You get more when you double down, learn the mechanics of each platform that you’re considering, and focus.

So how do you avoid platform overload and make sure that you’re focusing on the right channels? Here’s a simple framework to help you figure out where to prioritize your time and efforts:

Step 1: Revisit Your Distribution Goals

What are you looking to accomplish by being present on social media?

Maybe you’re looking to distribute your content to new audiences and promote more user-generated sharing. In this case, you’d turn to a channel like Pinterest where audiences are pinning and repinning interesting content to share with friends. Or maybe, you’re looking to create more brand visibility for some beautiful, inspiring photography that you’re publishing. In this case, you’d want to use a channel like Instagram that helps audiences discover interesting, bite-sized visuals. And if you’re looking to open more direct conversation channels with your audience? Turn to classics like Facebook and Twitter.

When building a social media strategy, it’s important to focus on the nuances. Ask yourself how audiences share content on these channels and how this user behavior maps to your content distribution goals? Your answers to these questions will help you identify and evaluate which social channels to pursue.

Step 2: Know Where Your Audiences Spend Time 

Social media platforms, at heart, are tools that enable conversations with audiences at scale. As a publisher, it’s up to you to find where pockets of readers are spending their time. Social media can help you provide an introduction to your media company and enable repeat engagement.

When building out your social media strategy, take time to conduct some channel by channel due diligence: understand each platform’s demographic composition so that you can ensure that you’re sharing your great content with the right audiences at the right time. Here are some resources that can help with your research: 

  • This social media intelligence report, maintained by Business Insider, can shed insight into how specific platforms are growing and changing, pointing to overall trends related to gender, income, and education levels.
  • This report covering the demographics of social media users, maintained by the Pew Center, to provide up-to-date fact sheets on how Americans are spending their time online.
  • This comprehensive analysis of social media usage as of 2015, created by Sprout Social.

When analyzing the demographics of social media usage, make sure to cast your net wide and cite a few different reports, as data can vary between sources. Compare the information that you read in your reports with your own first-party data to uncover areas of opportunity to pursue. 

Step 3: Examine Your Resources

You probably have big dreams for your social media strategy. And you should—if you don’t ‘think big’ with your marketing strategy, you’ll risk missing out on valuable audience acquisition and engagement opportunities. Not to mention, you’ll get stuck with the everyday mechanics of tweeting, sharing, and posting interesting content without doing the work that you need to do to analyze and build upon your results.

In an ideal world, you’d have infinite resources to manage your social media strategy. You’d have everything you need to build out your team, test paid channels, and implement tools. You’d be able to run consistent experiments across every social media channel out there. 

But you don’t have time to just cast your net wide and explore. You need to double down on the channels that are right for your brand and in sync with your team’s bandwidth. If you have a $0 social media budget, you may want to focus on channels like Twitter, for instance, where you can build a presence without needing to invest any advertising spend. If you do have a small ad budget, you consider running campaigns on channels like Facebook, which has been increasing its attention to its paid media business.

The bottom line is that you need to invest in the marketing efforts that you can do well. Ask yourself—what can your social media team do better than any other company out there, given the resources that you have? Don’t just go through the motions. Audience attention spans are spread thin, so whatever you do—do it well. 

Step 4: Prioritize

Your due diligence may lead you to the conclusion that you need to be on multiple social channels. If you fall into this category, take a moment to reflect—don’t rush your launch process. Instead, take some time to step back and reflect. Which social media channels represent your lowest hanging fruit? Which marketing opportunities will drive the best results over time? Take some time to give each social media platform the nurturing it needs to perform for your media brand. So how do you identify your highest-yield opportunities? Here is a list of ideas to get you started:

  • The social media channels with the highest concentration of people in your target audience
  • Networks in which your content is already being shared
  • Platforms that allow your existing audiences to engage with your content directly

Take a look at some of your marketing data, especially your referral traffic sources and sharing patterns around your most popular content. Survey your readers to see what social media networks they enjoy browsing. Craft your strategy from there.

Final Thoughts

There’s a subtle trick that can help you avoid platform overload: just focus on the channels where your audiences are already browsing and having conversations. Then, build out a presence on the platforms where you expect your audience to be devoting their attention in the coming years. Remember that social media, as a channel, is still in its infancy, with plenty of room to grow. Especially when it comes to publishing and digital media, it’s not ‘first to market’ who will always come out ahead. Be sure to take a step back to create a strategy that’s thoughtful and high-impact for your unique audience.

Personalize or Perish

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Article first found on rlitterst@hubspot.com (Rob Litterst)

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