Social media… the 300 pound gorilla in the room that generates questions such as “why aren’t we doing more with this?” and “shouldn’t we be on this platform?” Comments like “XYZ brand is on it – we’re falling behind!”

Sound familiar? You’re not alone. Participating in social media has evolved from a novel curiosity to standard procedure at a dizzying pace. In the home improvement and building products space, it has completely transformed content delivery to consumers.  Homeowners — armed with a laundry list of articles and an Ideabook on Houzz, packed with inspiration — expect brands to keep pace and to anticipate their specialized content consumption habits. Those companies who desire a seat at the table must remain ahead of the curve and deliver relevant content, seemingly on demand.

However, despite all of the advancements and new platforms at our society’s fingertips, here at Kleber & Associates, we often witness the same naïve response from certain brands as we did when Facebook and Twitter initially gained traction in the mid 2000’s.  We call it the “Monkey See, Monkey Do” approach – if a competitor joins XYZ, they in turn, MUST join XYZ too.

We get it… the pressure to make more sales and keep up the pace is something all companies face. However, jumping blindly into a particular social media platform can be a losing proposition.  Just as you wouldn’t start selling a new product without extensive market research, assessment, engineering and sales support — neither should you launch a new social platform without first answering 3 questions: Why are you using it? What is your end goal? And, can you sustain the platform in a robust fashion for the long haul?

Simply put, you shouldn’t be on a platform unless it makes sense for your business. How can one know if their social media strategy makes sense? When Kleber & Associates approaches our clients to recommend a launch campaign upon a particular social media platform, we conduct a simple exercise.  We ascertain the following criteria and assign a weight to each – totaling 100. The more weight assigned, the more the platform becomes a priority for the brand. With this evidence, we can better assess what the brand can realistically support… verifying that the platform aligns well with the company’s goals while providing the marketing team with the guidance, tools, and (in most cases) specialized content, to ensure success.
Consider these questions for use in ranking a social platform:

1) Alignment with Company Goals
How well aligned is this community to project corporate goals and objectives?

2) Market Positioning
Does this platform allow us to position better in the marketplace or channel?

3) Expected Reach
How popular is this Social Media channel? Will it provide significant and relevant exposure to attract the type of new customer we desire?

4) Customer
Will this initiative help us better service and retain or renew our existing accounts?

5) Resources – Financial
Do we have the financial resources to support it, particularly if we are considering advertising?

6) Resources – People
Do we have the skills, content, budget and bandwidth to support it?

Keep in mind, this exercise alone should not answer the question – it’s merely a starting point towards a larger discussion. We also stress the need for homework to continuously research the individual platforms… as changes are happening daily to the Google algorithm and other platforms as well. For example, LinkedIn has scheduled a significant change to take place in late April, 2014, when they plan to retire their Product & Services tab from all company pages, impacting millions of LinkedIn members.
With 26 years of public relations and advertising experience, Kleber & Associates makes it a priority to stay ahead of the curve with new social media platforms in order to counsel clients on how to approach them. With this “look in the mirror” exercise, it’s easier to determine if the company is truly ready, or even needs the platform to achieve its overall goals.  Remember, approach social media just like a new product – do your due diligence up-front, don’t be a monkey!

Kleber & Associates is an Atlanta-based integrated marketing communications agency serving the home and building products industry for 25 years. Visit the Kleber & Associates website for the latest news and information about marketing for home and building products for consumers, architects, builders, remodelers, designers and manufacturers. Through our marketing, advertising, public relations and digital marketing expertise — we build better brands that build a better home.