How do you know when it’s time to add a new social media channel?
We recently encountered this question at BTI when we created an Instagram account for the Finger Lakes Regional Tourism Council (FLRTC). FLRTC already had a Facebook, Twitter, and Flickr, but no other visual-based platforms. As the representatives of a scenic and diverse region roughly the size of New Jersey, Break The Ice Media knew this was a bridge we would have to cross soon. So how did we decide two weeks ago was the right time to take the plunge?
We answered “yes” to all of the following questions.
You can use these same questions and best practices to find out if adding a new social channel is right for your social media strategy plan.
Is there a need?
Defining “need” within social media is a challenge, but with Instagram, we started by looking at hashtags.
#FLX has 71,815 posts
#FingerLakes has 163,873 posts
The rate of use for these hashtags showed that people were using them. And if people were using the hashtags, then other people were searching for them. As we know, 48% of Instagram users rely on the platform to find a new travel destination, and 35% use it to discover a new place. So we could tell that people were looking to see what the Finger Lakes had to offer, and sharing their time in our region with their friends and followers.
This also showed us that although it was a fairly popular hashtag, it didn’t have hundreds of thousands of posts- which actually worked in our favor. FLRTC wasn’t joining Instagram to build an unknown destination from the ground up, but also hadn’t waited so long that it didn’t matter who represented the region. We were giving a face to an already established trend by adding this channel.
Are your peers there?
We wouldn’t want to build a channel that didn’t align with the goals of partners and stakeholders- which in this case are the 14 counties represented by the FLRTC. As a large and diverse destination region, being as visual as possible is our best asset. 8 out of the 14 counties in the Finger Lakes were already on Instagram. Since most visitors don’t consider county lines when traveling, one comprehensive and cohesive channel to showcase the entire region is a benefit to everyone.
Additionally, comparable destinations throughout New York, like the Adirondacks, Niagara Falls, and Long Island were on Instagram. So ask yourself, are your peers on Instagram and are they fulfilling a need that could also be filled by you?
Will there be engagement?
This can be a wild card, and hard to predict. Two days after we created the account, we were getting tagged in photos by people who didn’t follow us. If we had any doubt that we weren’t fulfilling a need, it was absolved. 3 weeks after creating the channel, we average 1.16 comments per post.
How can you be sure there will be engagement? (You can’t). But you also have to give people the chance to engage. Engagement can be as complex as leaving a comment or following a link, or as simple as liking a photo, or following the account.
Finally, do you have the time?
Successful social media channels take time. There’s no way around it. Do you have the time to create a new channel, curate (good) photography, build a base following, find the best hashtags, post at a time that maximizes engagement, and answer questions and comments? If the answer is no, then you already know whether you should add a new social media channel or not.
There is workaround for this when it comes to Instagram however- destinations can stage “takeovers” of their channel by a partner, or member of the community. Visit Ithaca’s entire Instagram channel is a collection of takeovers by residents, and is full of secret hiking spots, insider tips for the best pizza in town, and an ever-changing lense through which the city is viewed (it’s great).
Of course, if your current channels are thriving, there isn’t always a need or a necessity to add a new social media channel. It may not even be necessary for your organization. But if it’s time to expand your social reach, think strategically, and have fun with it too. Social media is built for engagement and enjoyment- don’t make it too much work.
For inspiration, you should follow the new Finger Lakes Instagram account!
Are you ready to add a new social media channel, or want help with existing ones? We’d love to help!