From time to time I look at a client’s audience and realize it is far too broad for just one social channel. This often happens with travel, destinations, trending products and seasonal variances that can attract a broad demographic.
Frequently, the solution is to pursue a multi-channel strategy. But much like the AMC Gremlin or a “Saved by the Bell” reunion, brand fragmentation typically has a negative connotation. Mention the term, and an army of marketing hipsters will unleash their commentary about "extraneous silos" and "over-compartmentalization.”
Let’s say you’re hosting a party in one room for two different sets of friends. You plan on keeping your “cheese platter and wine” friends on one side of the room, and your “chicken finger and craft beer” friends on the other side. As you spend the evening running from one side to the other, you have to continually re-think your conversation topics and brand pillars.
You might also want to consider an antacid before going to bed.
A similar problem happens in social media when you try to connect with disparate audiences through a single channel. You publish a lot of half-assed communication that never truly engages either side. Then you end up at the bar after work, crying into your craft beer and wondering why no one recognizes your genius.
Off the top of my head, here are a handful of the incredibly varied audiences you might speak to:
- Lesbian and gay
- The elderly
- Pet owners
- Extreme sports
- Tweens and teens
- Business travelers
- Luxury travelers
- Time-sensitive, trend-based products, events or seasonal directives
If you can get all these cats in the same bag and speak cohesively, you're either a GOD or completely fooling yourself into drinking far too much of your own Kool-Aid.
You might remember that we recently talked about how social channels can be like the bar scene. Each of the segments listed above has its own unique scene, content and social structure. As you construct a RICH social graph for your potential audiences, it's important to create the best environment to nurture that conversation. And you can easily create a unique Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest Board, YouTube channel or Google+ page to speak to each collective.
I'll be the first one to tell you that if you can service all your audience with one location – you’re golden. But the fact is that many large brands risk losing part of the conversation by trying to get everyone to like one another.
When you launch your multi-channel strategy, I recommend introducing the concept slowly (or launch with your audience defined), and with a great deal of buy-in from your existing community. Make it special. Invite people with similar interests to participate in more appropriate conversations based on their likes and interests.
Seems fair, right?
What you don't want is to simultaneously deploy a dozen channels that no one uses or understands. OR WORSE – overload yourself with too much conversation (as a community manager) that you cannot handle.
Therefore, you should plan for both scenarios during an expansion rollout. And don't give up on a channel just because it doesn't turn into gold within the first 24 hours. Remember how long it took for people to simply adopt your social messaging within your current graph. As you grow, it will take time AND unique content in each new channel.
Good luck! I can’t wait to hear about your successes with multi-channel social. And I’m also waiting for my invitation to your party. Don’t worry about me, because I’ll be comfortable on either side of the room.