Right now, I am pretty much signed up to every social network, from Facebook to Pinterest and all the way through Linkedin, Google+ and Twitter, I am even on Path and I don’t know anyone in my close circles that has even heard of it. You may wonder why I do this to myself and the answer is sort of simple: “There is no better way to have an informed opinion about a product than by using it”.
I also find that, with every new platform, new technology is created, technology that can be integrated to your site through APIs to deliver a more customised user experience. With every new social network launch also comes the questioning of its use, audience, functionality and longevity by people that sometimes haven’t even tried to join. The basis of most claims tend to be visitor statistics provided by the most obscure of sources, often misinterpreted or skewed to make a statement.
Two of the most recent cases have been Google+ and Pinterest. The first one is seen as a geek haven, full of students and developers and techies in general but the point that seems to be stressed the most is that G+’s audience is chiefly made up of men. On the other hand, Pinterest shows a skew towards a female audience, a focus on image based sharing and an already monetised platform.
So, what’s the big problem with this? Why should a skewed audience be considered inferior to one that fits all profiles? From my perspective this is a show of laziness in trying to figure out the best way to approach them and make the most out of their particularities. If, as a brand, you are staying away from a platform because you don’t know how to use it yet, you are trying to get to grips with it or your budget doesn’t allow you to put resources into that area then fair enough, I believe this is absolutely valid, but to forecast the demise of a network based on the specialisation of its members is extremely short-sighted.
The proliferation of social networks is a sign of the times and will continue for as long as people have the need to talk to other people with similar interests, to join communities, to communicate and to share. This isn’t going away and social media strategies that just “stick to Facebook” will miss out on the richness and engagement available through other channels.
Keep an open mind and try things out, in a controlled manner if needed be, but don’t miss out on an opportunity to engage and to make the most out of technology that is being made freely and readily available to you.