Originally posted on 1000heads.com
Continuing our newest blog series aiming to polish up your community management tactics, this week we’re discussing emerging platforms and some best practices for discovering as well as leveraging them effectively.
When it comes to social media, emerging platforms tend to vary significantly in terms of quality and value propositions. Often the result of a small, passionate team at an unknown startup, identifying what is actually relevant to your brand has become increasingly challenging. How do you know what is worth your time? Here are a few points that should help guide your thinking.
1. Look in the right places, reach out to the right people
You can’t rely solely on a Mashable or TechCrunch to keep you up to speed. Dig deeper. Challenge yourself to uncover platforms before they hit the tech press circuit. Keep a close eye on accelerator programs, hackathons and local startup Meetup groups for standout prospects. Reach out directly to co-founders over Twitter and offer to provide them with valuable product feedback. You’ll likely receive early-access instantly. Establishing a network of respectable early-adopters over time who share your hunger for innovation will obviously help you cast a much larger net.
2. Avoid shiny-object syndrome
Learn when to ignore the “hype” and always take a look for yourself before making assumptions. Understand that there is likely a hidden agenda and plenty of extreme biases in tech press regardless of how much credibility a publication or blogger may have. Do your own research and form your own opinions over time.
3. Think like a VC
Think about if the platform is truly a solid investment for your brand. Is this an actual product or simply a feature that is highly vulnerable to larger competition? Look beyond the current offering and examine the addressable market size. Feel confident that enough users will also appreciate the unique value proposition. Why will this be disruptive and to who? Discover key synergies with other platforms, identify potential suitors and anticipate an acquisition long before it happens.
4. Learn the signals to watch for
What sort of user traction has it received? Who are the co-founders and what else have they accomplished? Make use of Crunchbase and AngelList. Who led the most recent round of financing? Sequoia Capital or ScrubFund XYZ? Although it may not always be relevant, offering an API (or at least plans for one) can say a lot about the roadmap and vision. A thriving ecosystem of passionate developers leveraging the platform to innovate on their own is generally an ideal scenario.
5. Prove how it will impact business objectives
Most importantly, you must always attempt to find the best way to tie the platform to actual business objectives for your brand. This can often be a struggle initially, however, it will guarantee that you receive long-term buy-in from above. Get creative with your metrics. Consider how the platform helps to boost your efficiency or how it exposes your brand to key target audiences that can be translated into a high media equivalent value.
Never rely exclusively on others to push the envelope. Have the confidence to engineer unique approaches for leveraging new platforms and don’t be afraid to be the first one to jump in when it makes complete sense for your brand. You’ll likely be rewarded for your ambition and thought leadership.