If you build it, will they come?

A problematic misunderstanding once existed in social media: If my brand is “there,” I am successfully using social media. Most brands now understand that simply opening a Facebook profile is not going to garner fans or revenue without strategy and talent. But all too often, brands still insist on having an account on every new network.

Social media managers should be knowledgeable on new trends, apps, networks and tools. But that information can be harmful in the wrong hands. So often, management and marketing teams – with good intentions – put pressure on social media managers to dive into the next network without considering brand implications or relevancy. A successful network launch earns publicity, and those who are typical users of social media are quick to pressure change within their organizations. This is a time to stop. Breathe. Talk it out.

Pinterest is a great example of this issue. It has a magazine feel that most networks lack. Pinterest blew up practically overnight in 2011 and has features like a dollar sign in the corner to tell users that they can buy the product they pinned to their “Garden Season!” boards. But for businesses that do not sell home goods, women’s clothes or kid and craft supplies, the market on Pinterest is barren.

Like any media channel, marketers should step back and consider relevance. Is this network appropriate for my brand? Are my target markets using this network, or will they? Is this network worth investing brand resources, time and money into a launch campaign and sustained support? Answering these questions can help a team better understand the long-term implications of adding social media networks.

Although social media seems like the “Field of Dreams,” opening a free account and managing it adds to social media managers’ workloads, challenging them to create strategies to engage customers. In some cases, the value in engaging a new community is worth the effort. In other cases, the time and energy invested might not be worth the outcome. Don’t feel bad sitting one out if the social network is not right for your brand. You will be saving time and resources for future opportunities.

Melissa Nodurft is a communications specialist at Milwaukee-based ASQ.

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