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When a social network has reached the popularity of Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest, making the decision to invest time and energy into it is easy. Most companies like to wait until they see other businesses have success on a social network before deciding to make the plunge. It’s completely understandable. You don’t have the resources to market on every new social media platform that pops up every day. On top of that, the list of failed social platforms is long, which isn’t helping.

Waiting for new social media platforms to become popular may sound like a good idea. But the truth is being an early adopter has its advantages, one of which being much less competition. When you start a new Twitter profile or Facebook page, there’s a good chance your competitors are already there and reaching your target audience. Now you’re competing for their attention. But if you start a Snapchat account on the other hand, you’ll probably be one of the first companies in your industry on the app, so it’s a lot easier to gain the unique audience.

The first challenge is spotting emerging social media platforms that will be worth your time and effort. Then as a trailblazer, you have to figure out how to utilize the platform within your marketing strategy.

What to Look For

Pinterest launched in 2010, but most businesses didn’t join in until a few years later. But there were certain companies like Wholefoods and Etsy that began pinning way before it was mainstream. What were they able to see in Pinterest that others weren’t?

Let’s take a look at Etsy’s demographics:

Etsy Demographics

Then we can compare those numbers to Pinterest’s:

Pinterest Demographics

Notice the similarities in gender, education and location. Etsy’s target market was on Pinterest so it made perfect sense to integrate it into their strategy.

The takeaway from this is you need to know your target market. Create a customer avatar that you can refer to when looking for new social media platforms to use. Once a new social network draws your interest, explore it. Here are some key factors to look for:

  • Are people actively engaged? If the answer is no, it’s probably not worth your time.
  • Who’s the most active? Just like the Etsy and Pinterest example, you want to make sure your target audience is actually using the platform.
  • How are people using the social network? Knowing how people use the platform (for leisure, communication or general entertainment) will help you create an effective marketing strategy.
  • What’s the climate? You have to know the environment and culture fits your brand. It may be structured like Facebook, or more of a free-for-all like Reddit.
  • Are their communities? It’s nice to have smaller niche groups within a social network to help you connect with your target customers. Think along the lines of Google+ Communities, Subreddits and Facebook Groups.

Answering these questions will give you an idea of whether or not a social network will be a good fit for your business.

How to Become an Early Adopter

Having a strategic approach to new social media platforms will put you in a much better position for success. Here are some simple tips to prevent you from falling flat on your face or missing out on the next big social network.

1. Claim Your Profile

You might be at a point where you think a social network looks good, but you aren’t sure whether or not you want to fully invest the time. Even if you’re marginally interested in trying a new social platform, setup a profile. You don’t have to go all in and be active every day like you are on your top social channels. Just take a couple of minutes to create an account on new platforms.

Not only will this allow you to claim your brand’s username, but it’ll also give you the opportunity to dip your toe in the marketing waters a bit. If the social channel starts to take off, you’ll be one step ahead. If it doesn’t, then at least you haven’t sunk too much time into it.

2. Promote Your New Social Profiles

Once you’ve made the decision to actively engage with a new social platform, your next step should be to let the world know you’re there. If you’ve established a following on other social networks, ask your followers to join you on the new one too.

The Lancashire Police is using this strategy to grow the department’s Instagram page. The official Twitter page has over 75K followers, and they’re using that following to push traffic to the Instagram account.

Another good option to build your initial following is to find those you’re connected to on your other social media channels on the newest sites. Most new social networks have this feature built in because it creates faster growth.

Instagram Find Friends

3. Get Active

After you’ve committed to a new social platform, you need to be active. This allows you to build your account up as an authority that’s worth following. When new users join, they’ll be looking for established accounts as they start to explore.

Create a social media plan around the new network. Most social networks don’t give you analytics at first, so you might need to develop your own key performance indicators (KPI) and metrics that you want to track. That might mean number of followers, comments or shares your posts get. The metrics you choose will depend on the social network.

Being active doesn’t just mean sharing content. You also have to interact with other users even if they’re not necessarily your target audience. It’s similar to being the person at a party that walks around and works the room. You have to make your presence known and you’ll become much more memorable as a result. Here are some ideas to help you start engaging with other users:

  • Re-share others’ content: Most social media platforms have a feature that allows you to re-share other users’ content like Retweets on Twitter. This is a great way to  get noticed by other users while sharing more content.
  • Vote/Like their content: Whether we’re talking about likes on Facebook and Twitter or a +1 on Google+, nothing shows your appreciation for other users like giving their content your vote of approval.
  • Reply: Commenting and replying to other users is one of the best ways to engage on social media, yet so few companies do it. Taking the time to leave a thoughtful reply can help you stand out and build connections.

New Social Media Platforms to Watch

Now that you know how to take advantage of being an early adopter, let’s look at some of the top new social media platforms that your business should start looking into.

We Heart It

we heart it

We Heart It is like a cross-breed of Pinterest and Instagram. Instead of Pinterest’s boards, We Heart It has Canvases and Collections. You won’t find infographics and recipes here though. Images that get shared on this platform are more like what you see on Instagram with quotes, photography and selfies. And the platform is open to businesses, which is a huge plus. Starbucks, MTV, Chobani and several other large brands have already jumped on the We Heart It ship.

Ello

ello

In a lot of ways, Ello is like the anti-social network. The founders have pledged to keep the platform ad-free forever. They have even made it a point to mention that Ello is not about posting where you are and who you’re with. Instead, it’s a place to connect with creative people and draw inspiration. You can post videos, audio, GIFS, images and even blog posts. The fact that Ello is so anti-adverting might turn off some businesses, but there is still plenty of value to reach specific audiences.

Medium

medium

With the explosion of content marketing over the past couple of years, Medium is in a great position to really take off. The social network is a microblogging platform that helps you establish yourself as a thought leader and share great content. Unlike networks such as Twitter or Tumblr that have a lot of content curation, Medium specifically focuses on original content. If your company has been looking for new platforms to publish content, or if you’re trying to get higher level executives involved in your social media strategy, Medium could be a great option.

Hyper

hyper

A good way to describe Hyper is Instagram with more structure and organization. Instead of posting your photos to your profile where only your followers can see, your posts get published to specific categories. Posts can be voted up or down similar to Reddit’s system, which can give your content more visibility. Hyper is nice for local businesses because you can use geotagging to attract users close to your business. The downside to Hyper is it’s only available for iOS users at the moment.

Snapchat

snapchat

Snapchat is right at the point where businesses are just starting to realize its potential. This is great because it hasn’t been saturated with marketers. In the early stages, Snapchat was looked at as an app for sending pictures and videos discreetly. Users can send images or videos to each other but the catch is that they self destruct within 10 seconds or less. The app evolved to allow for more permanent content with Stories and other features that make it great for businesses.

There’s a good chance that most of your competitors aren’t using Snapchat, but your customers are mostly likely on it. Take advantage by setting up your profile as soon as possible. Read through our Snapchat Guide to get started.

Break free of the habit of waiting for social platforms to become extremely popular to join. Become an early adopter of new social media platforms like the ones we’ve mentioned, and use our tips to increase your chances of success.