social media platformsWhile most social networks have value to someone, not all will be of value to you and your business.  To be of value they must provide a certain amount of ROI. Whether that ROI is the result of sales, 'likes', new followers and/or fans, comments and shares, for example, it all counts. On the other hand, when ROI is non-existent on a particular platform - you receive zero, zip, nada - is it time to disengage and quite simply dump it?

Tech evangelist and popular blogger Robert Scoble said "there is no alternative to constant, ubiquitous engagement" referencing participation in social media at the January 2013 New Media Expo in Vegas. That said, when is it time to sever a relationship with a social networking platform you perceive, or is, non-performing?

Not all social platforms fit the needs of a particular business. 

For example, LinkedIn may provide an audience of potential clients interested in your marketing or Internet services.  However Foursquare provides zero. Foursquare has proven a much better platform for retailers, doctors, dentists and other local service companies. Pinterest may be the perfect network for a biz selling products like art, gourmet food, apparel, shoes, for instance. That audience is generally less interested in Internet marketing and search engine optimization. 

Not sure whether to drop a social network? Here's 7 tips to aid you in determining when to cut the cord or dig in and save it:

1. Your audience has changed - For example, engagement on Twitter has seriously fallen off. You're experiencing fewer re-tweets and tweetbacks; your out of the twitterloop. Could you be overwhelming followers with sales pitches and they're dropping like flies?  Has your business evolved and you are providing content meant for a new audience yet sending it to your current, old audience? If you back off could you regroup? Or, when all is said and done, is it time to drop this network?

 2. Your social media goals have changed - Are you now trying to build your brand (LinkedIn), increase your audience (Facebook) or drive sales (Twitter)?  If so, it's time to reassess your goals, drop groups who no longer provide access to the audience who'll help you reach those new goals.

3. Fewer comments - This could be a reflection of your own lack of valuable info posted; lack of content which stimulates your followers and fans.  Even failing to respond to negative comments or addressing fan and customer problems posted can cause a precipitous drop in fans and followers interested enough to comment.  The question to ask yourself - If you're giving too little attention to this network why?  Are you bored; lack focus or time?  If you refocused and committed more time for posting and maintaining this network could it be turned around?

4. Once loyal fans and followers back off, drop out or disconnect - Even once loyal fans grow, change and leave groups or social platforms. The question to ask yourself is are you willing to work harder providing engaging content to bring them back into the fold, to re-engage them?  Would you take time to email old followers and discover why they dropped out.  Or, you could post a survey asking for help. If you aren't willing to go the distance, it's likely time to cut your losses and move on. 

5. Lack of followers - A lack of followers could mean failing to cultivate 'friends' and connections. On the other hand, it could simply mean people don't know enough about you; your 'about' section isn't complete. Does your bio reflect your current expertise? When all things aren't equal, it's easy for people to cast their lot with those whose info aligns with their stated expertise and goals.

6. Potential clients and leads, gathered from a particular platform, cancel or quickly drop out.  Are you providing links to pages on your site or blog which best reflect you and/or your products and services?  Is product or service info you post informative, yet clear?   Once you've done some research, asked the necessary questions and determine you're sending out the right info and signals, you may discover this particular social network simply isn't for you.

7. Lack of 'shares' - This could be the result of posting info and articles your followers have no interest in. Post a question, a survey, start a contest to discover what info they prefer. Is it articles, case histories, tips, white papers? Discover what they want and provide it and saving this social network is a strong possibility.

Still not sure which, if any, social networks to drop? Check out competitors. What platforms are they successfully using? Do they have a Facebook Fan Page? Are they using social widgets on their sites and blogs? Are they using new platforms you've never considered? What type of engagement are they producing?

Bottom line:

Know thy audience and choose social networks research shows they frequent; spend your time and focus on them. Make yourself invaluable by providing help and excellent content to keep fans loyal. Show your human face when posting and sharing; be relatable. Regularly reach out for new fans, connections and friends. And remember the old saw 'you get out of it what you put into it.'  Take the time to plant the seeds for social success in the proper places and reap the harvest of followers and fans who stay loyal and engaged.  

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