Welcome to the Kleber & Associates blog! Here’s the latest on The Number 1 Rule for Social Media Strategies

This blog was written by Tracey Fienen, one of Kleber & Associates’ summer interns who, being one herself, has unique insight into young consumers and the way they use social media.

A few months ago I had a conversation with my roommate/best friend. We were talking about life after college and vowed to remain in touch with each other (as all best friends do). There was one comment in particular that is especially relevant to social media strategists and is the inspiration for this post. During the course of conversation, one of us said: “When Facebook goes out, we need to make sure we are both on the next networking site.” Both of us agreed with the statement without much thought.
Sometime after this conversation I was talking to another friend and mentor about the prior conversation. When I told him the above comment, he remarked that it was interesting I had said “When Facebook goes out”…not “if.” Being older than I am, he said that his generation would never think like that. To generations who grew up without the internet and social media, change is much more of an “if” question. No one ever thought about “when” TV would be outdated or “when” newspapers would become a thing of the past. In reality, no one even gave much thought as to “if” these forms of mass media would ever go away until recently. But now my generation is not only asking these questions, but we are helping accelerate the rapid change in the communication process by adopting and creating new technologies at an increasing rate.

My generation has grown up with computers, the internet and social media. We have lived through Windows 95, 98, ME, XP, Vista, 7, and soon to be 8. There have been 14 editions of Microsoft Office released since I was born. The iPod Nano has been redesigned 6 times and everyone I know had a cell phone before their 18th birthday. My generation lives in a world with so many social networking websites we can’t keep track of them (I actually tried to get a count of how many there were – I lost count around 250). Most of us will admit that the number of friends we have on Facebook probably isn’t a true count of the friends we know in real life. My generation knows that there will always be change; there will always be another update or version, and there will always be a new gadget or website.

So what does any of this have to do with social media strategies? One word. Adaptability.

My generation grew up with change. We know it. We expect it. We don’t ask “if” something will change; we ask “when” it will change. Marketers, too, should be asking this same question. When Facebook is out, when twitter is dead, when Foursquare is just for stalkers, where will you go? This should be the foundation of any social media strategy. Companies should be ready to adapt at any time. They should be prepared to abandon today’s social media hot spot in search of tomorrow’s. And not only should you be prepared to change your strategy, you have to be prepared to learn new technologies as quickly as your customer will. A good social media strategy should start with the belief that the strategy will constantly change and adapt to the media that is most relevant at that particular moment.

Adaptability also means being prepared to change the way you use existing technologies. Just because users continue using Facebook, doesn’t mean they continue to use it in the same way. Facebook has undergone several major changes in its short history including facelifts, programming and terms and agreement modifications. These have all changed the way we use Facebook, and it should have changed the way your company uses it.

And when Facebook and Twitter go out, don’t view it as lost resources. Don’t think you wasted the last few years on a platform that is now gone. As long as you keep adapting alongside your customer, resources are never wasted. Keeping up with your customer is the first step toward engaging them. Your customer isn’t going to slow down and reject new technology just because advertisers don’t want to move on.

And if you’re wondering what the future of social networking may look like, check out The Google+ Project. I can’t say that Google+ is going to replace Facebook someday, and I can’t say whether or not Google+ will even prove to be a good idea, but I can say for sure that “when” my Google+ invitation arrives, I will be checking it out.

Change is inevitable. Your customers (my generation) know that and are ready for it. Do you know that? Are you ready for it? Are you asking what you will do “when…”?