the value of networksGuest post by Harrison Kratz

Unless you’ve been under a rock since the beginning of 2012, by now you’ve heard of little thing called Pinterest.

While I haven’t given in to the craze yet, it’s impossible to ignore its meteoric rise in the world of social media, not just within our industry but in mainstream adoption.

Social Media and marketing teams have been scrambling to figure out a strategy for Pinterest, and rightfully so – it’s a force to be reckoned with from a branding and a business-driving perspective.

This is also a good time though for said teams to re-evaluate their adoption of new networks into their overall strategy.

Here are some questions to ask yourself as you develop a strategy for social networks, both new and old.

Compare audiences

Is your audience part of the network? Are they active? This question should not only alter your strategy but could effect whether you’re going to be present at all.

I manage a community for an online MBA program; potential MBA candidates aren’t really on Pinterest yet, so there really isn’t much reason to put stock into a strategy at this point and time.

However, a fashion or retail company has to be on there because their audience is active and present on the network.

Does your brand message fit the network?

Even if your audience is on a certain network, it’s very important to listen and understand the tone of conversation before jumping in.

You could find out that your overall brand message doesn’t even fit the nature of the network. If that is the case, it’s best to re-evaluate and weigh the costs of altering your overall message for a network, or if success can be found by sticking to your preexisting messaging.

How close to your bottom line is the network?

I still believe that social media is about relationships and engagement, but we are far enough along in this medium to understand how to drive quantifiable results that influence a company’s bottom line.

That aspect of marketing should influence your adoption of a new network.

There should be an understanding about how your presence will influence the bottom line and help drive results for the company as a whole.

How will you define your presence?

Good communications professional don’t just look at a network and are satisfied with just being present. A good communicator look for ways to define the company’s presence vis-a-vis its competitors and to get the most out of their engagement in a creative and distinct way that is clear to their audience.

So ask yourself: do I have an opportunity to differentiate my brand’s voice, and how can I clearly display that to those on the network?

Will this be a supporter or driver?

This question shouldn’t steer you away from a network but it can definitely influence the time and resources you invest in addition to the strategy you develop.

Some networks support a brand’s mission and some are drivers of the business.

For my community, Facebook is a supporter of the brand, but Linkedin is a driver of business and leads, because that is where our target market is interacting the most.

Each network is different for each brand. It’s important to figure out where the new networks fit into your mix.

Image: michael.heiss via Flickr, CC 2.0

Harrison KratzHarrison Kratz is the Community Manager for MBA@UNC, a top online MBA program from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He sticks to his entrepreneurial roots as the founder of the global social good campaign, Tweet Drive. You can connect with him on Twitter, where he’s @KratzPR.