I have to hand it to Google; it looks like they finally got their act together in terms of their approach to social networking. Granted, only time will tell if Google + will gain a real foothold in the social network space, but allow me to indulge in a bit of hypothetical thinking. Namely, what if the rise of Google+ eventually leads to the utter demise of Facebook & Twitter (much like the rise of Facebook led to the demise of MySpace)?
From a marketer’s perspective, that would more or less be uncharted territory. Here’s why:
MySpace wasn’t fully embraced by brands in the way Facebook & Twitter has, particularly in terms of devoting money, time, and resources in an effort to build a following. Back then – when MySpace was king – social media influence was not a full-fledged marketing objective the way it is today. Therefore, when MySpace faded away into irrelevancy, marketers didn’t have much to worry about. There was little inconvenience.
But think about the implications of having Facebook and/or Twitter fade away. All of those marketing efforts (and dollars) dedicated towards capturing Facebook likes and Twitter follows could potentially be all for not. Sure, brands could attempt to bridge the divide by providing incentives to existing Facebook and/or Twitter followers to attach themselves to new brand profiles in Google+. They could also mirror past Facebook and Twitter marketing tactics within Google+ in an effort rebuild the following and influence they enjoyed on the now defunct social networks that were once at the top of the heap.
But that seems to be a bit inefficient at best, and possibly a bit self defeating. After all, we are at the very infancy stage of social networking and the internet in general. For all we know, Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ could be relegated to “old relic” status in the coming years and decades, so it doesn’t make sense to just keep chasing the latest flavor of the month social network, especially when brand influence is at stake.
So what’s a self-respecting marketer to do? Easy. Focus on building followers and influence within your own domain so that you can own the data and the relationships into perpetuity:
- Build your email database and optimize your messaging strategy to foster an ever-growing subscription list and open rate
- Build your blog and optimize your content and engagement strategy to foster commenting and RSS subscriptions
- Build your mobile app and optimize the content to foster an ever-growing list of subscribers and active users that use the app regularly
- etc, and so forth
In other words, the best way to protect your social following and influence is to build it in ways that are immune to the shifting sands of time (and the shifting nature of social network supremacy).