It’s an exciting time for social media to say the least.

From Pinterest’s buyable pins to Instagram’s revamped ad platform and Facebook’s instant articles, there’s no denying these updates are creating a lot of buzz in the marketing world.

And rightfully so.

With the expansion of capabilities among social platforms, many marketers are starting to think about incorporating new channels into their strategy they might not have considered in the past. This is especially true on channels like Pinterest, where there is a direct line to sales.

Which brings us to an important question: When should marketers invest their time and money into social media channels they haven’t explored?

One of the biggest mistakes to avoid is investing in a channel because “everyone is on it.” It’s natural to experience F.O.M.O., but before you give your marketing team the green light, make sure you identify the business case, and answer the questions below.

Is your target audience on that channel?

Too often brands are jumping on social media channels without clearly defining a strategy and a reason for having a presence on them. There’s nothing worse than seeing a brand’s page where the last activity was weeks (or months) ago, and the content on the channel doesn’t fit. And on top of that, there is little to no engagement because the audience being targeted isn’t there.

With that being said, make sure you do enough research to understand the following demographics:

  • How many active users are there?
  • What ages use the channel the most?
  • Where are they located?
  • Are they primarily male or female?
  • What is their income and education level?
  • Is this channel effective for B2B/B2C?

If the audience isn’t there, don’t waste your time. It’s better to be really good on a few channels instead of mediocre across many.

What does success look like?

Lets assume you’ve done the appropriate research and decided that this social media channel is a good fit for your business and audience. What’s next?

Identifying your goals and KPIs.

This is a critical piece of your strategy and will be the indicator of progress, success and areas for improvement. Make sure they align with overall business objectives.

Start by clearly defining why this channel is important, and then outline what exactly will be your measure of success. Is it awareness? Engagement? Lead generation? Driving traffic to your website? You get the point.

Do you have an individual strategy for the proposed channel?

All social media channels are not the same. Sure, everyone knows this, but too often marketers still take a “one size fits all” approach. You’ve seen it before: Company X develops a new piece of content and pushes it out across all their social media channels with the same exact messaging at the same time (#fail).

Please don’t pick up this bad habit. Not only does it look lazy, but it’s not going to be effective.

Take the same approach you did with your audience to better understand the behavior on each channel.

Here are some things to pay attention to:

  • What are the best times during the day to post?
  • What type of content does your audience want to see on this channel and respond to? (Hint: It won’t be the same for LinkedIn and Facebook)
  • How often should you post on each channel?
  • How do people prefer to engage with your content?
  • Do you see better performance by adding media to your posts? I have a feeling you will.

Understanding these key questions will help you develop a tailored strategy for each channel.

Quick Tip: Take advantage of the insights and analytics each channel provides to find answers to these questions. For example, Twitter updated their analytics to include more audience insights.

Do you have the resources to effectively manage your channels?

Social media is not a part-time job. It requires a resource that can give your channels the attention they deserve.

Let me put this in perspective. 72% of people who complain on Twitter expect a response within an hour.

Are you prepared to act this fast? If not, you might want to rethink how you’re currently supporting this role.

On another note, it’s important to remember that social media is a conversation. Yes, deploying the right content at the right time is a huge part of the job, but engagement and interaction is just as important. And this takes manpower. Don’t let your social program run on autopilot.

The social media industry continues to evolve at a fast pace. While it’s important to keep up with the latest updates and trends, it’s critical you have the basics nailed. And by answering the four questions above, you’ll create a strong foundation.