There are far too many new media platforms coming out every day. The success of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or YouTube may have you convinced that the next big thing is right around the corner, and you need to be a first adopter in order to gain instant ground.
But we’re warning you: hold your horses! Audition new apps and services with a skeptical eye and you’re less likely to get burned when the new spangled apps fail (which they often do, actually).
We’ll tell you what you should look out for, and how you can adopt a vetting process that will screen new apps quickly and easily; so you can know with greater accuracy which new services and tools will work for you and which you should avoid.
Most of all, we’ll talk about how you should center your critical resources around “digital mainstays” that will last as long your business does.
Don’t Get Excited Too Quickly
It’s easy to get excited too quickly when you see how many people are downloading and playing with a new app.
And it’s reasonable to want to get in on the action.
But don’t let your emotions get in the way of your goals. Do your market research, and listen to your findings.
While struggling to adapt your business model to a new platform, you may alienate your core audience.
Unless you’re sure that the new app is going to provide you with a radical return on investment, your best bet is to ignore it and stay on your current target.
Remember How Many Apps Fail
It’s easy to forget how many new apps and services fail almost instantly. But as an entrepreneur you could learn valuable lessons from these disasters.
Remember Friendster, MySpace, or Digg? You may have even used these services at one point and lost interest like so many others.
Remember Jelly? Probably not. The people behind Twitter brought this new app to the market, it quickly gained users, and was just as quickly forgotten.
The failure of Jelly makes an interesting case. It demonstrates that even with all the backing, all the resources, and all the clever design philosophy at their disposal, the app still failed to gain traction with users who were so quick to download.
Imagine how much time you would’ve wasted trying to adapt your business model to these obscure platforms.
Even Google’s own social media offering, Google+, has joined the ongoing list of failed social media projects.
There’s a Much Better Way
Here’s a radical alternative to being a first adopter: invest in the things you know will stick around as long as you do.
Invest in the resources you control directly.
It’s not surprising that your digital mainstays will most often center around your website.
These mainstays can be everything from a blog, a forum, email marketing campaign, content offerings like video or image galleries, or even your own social media platform (using the BuddyPress plugin for WordPress).
Many business owners use Facebook groups to stay in touch with their customers. This makes sense considering how many people use Facebook. But one policy or algorithm change could send your customers running or, at the very least, make your job more difficult. (It happens all the time.)
But imagine if you could keep those customers on your site longer, get more return visits, or have them subscribe to your email list. It’s worth the effort if only to have more diversity in your marketing efforts and to protect yourself.
Basically, you control your own website hosting, which means you make the rules.
Audition New Platforms With Skepticism
You wouldn’t let strangers walk in and run your business, would you? You’d only want to hire people who have gone through your interview system and demonstrated their competence.
So why would you take on a new media platform simply because other people are doing it?
There’s no denying that if your business reaches a mass large enough to warrant spilling over into third-party media platforms that you should investigate them (and perhaps invest some effort into them).
But you should only invest if you’ve run these new apps and services through your own vetting process (as if you were hiring a new employee):
- Has the app clearly demonstrated a value that will serve you or your customers better?
- Will this service help you attract new customers? (Is there data to support this claim?)
- How much money, time, or energy is required to adopt this new app?
- Will the app provide a return on investment?
If you’re not asking these basic questions when adapting your business to a new app, be careful, you might get burned.