It seems like a brilliant new social platform or web tool pops up every day – new ways to connect, new ways to promote your brand to just about everyone out there. But that doesn’t mean that every one of these tools is right for you or your business.
Case in point – Groupon has been touted as the next best thing since sliced bread by everyone, it seems, from social media and web experts to friends. Everyone raves about this collective buying service that allows groups of consumers to purchase discount deals. And Groupon certainly exhibits success – launched in 2008, it now covers over 550 cities around the world, has had its traffic grow from 2 million unique visitors per month to over 15 million, and boasts an annual revenue of around $2 billion.
Here’s the thing, though – I recently read a great article about a café owner who had just tried Groupon for her business. She describes it as “the single worst decision” she’s ever made for her business. It turns out that the discounts and process she had to go through didn’t make sense for her type of business, and she suffered a lot of headaches and even some losses. She goes on to explain how she takes full responsibility for her decision, and that maybe she didn’t do enough homework, etc. But the thing is – Groupon didn’t live up to the hype for her business at all.
Another case is Foursquare. Launched in 2009, this social networking concept allows users to utilize their mobile devices to interact with the different environments they encounter as well as with their friends and followers. As of April of 2011, Foursquare reported over 8 million users. My business partner, however, recently interacted with one of the leading social media experts about Foursquare – and he said he was retooling his usage of it because of complaints from his followers.
So what do we learn from this? First, that the jury is still out on even the most popular new social or web tool. In the first year or so of development, it’s usually never a good idea to jump on the bandwagon until some results are seen.
Secondly, we should always keep in mind that a tool is a tool. There is no silver bullet, and as social expert Jay Baer says – a communications plan based on tools is doomed to fail. An integrated marketing communications strategy is the best method – it allows you to communicate messages about your brand effectively by using multiple, proven tools and platforms. So, just because a tool is the latest one, it doesn’t mean it’s the right one for you.