Since experimentation costs time and money, even in the best cases, it’s critical to remain pragmatic when approaching new platforms. While experimentation is key, publishers who strategically approach new platforms and products are bound to see greater returns than those who post non-cohesive scattered content across a wide range of platforms.
Often, it’s beneficial not to be among the first to dive deep into a new platform. There’s enormous value in experiencing a platform heavily as an active user before setting up a branded account.
“At The Huffington Post, we’re super scrappy when it comes to testing new platforms and products,” says Kiki Von Glinow, director of growth and analytics. “For us, it’s important to approach these new audiences in a way that’s authentic and native to the given experience, so often engaging with the communities as if we are a regular member of the ecosystem without all the bells and whistles actually allows us to do a lot of great testing and pivoting without the overhead. Once we find a topic or tactic that really resonates on a given platform, then we’ll think more about building it out and investing resources.”
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“Don’t overreach,” says Stephanie Haberman, director of growth at Vocativ. “Just because everyone else is jumping on a platform, that doesn’t mean it makes sense for you, or for your audience. When you have a lean, scrappy team, like most do, you can’t be everywhere. Remember who, and where, your audience is. Cultivate that, then grow when you’ve reached critical mass and they’ll follow you.”
Elana Zak, multiplatform editor at CNN Money, echoes this sentiment. “We’re constantly told our users are on every social space — Facebook, Snapchat, Line — and we should meet them there. But for some publishers, especially more niche ones, it isn’t valuable to be on every platform,” she says. “If your readers aren’t on Snapchat, don’t kill yourself trying to fit into that ecosystem. You’re wasting resources that could go to finding your readers where they actually are.”
That said, once a new platform is identified as a target you don’t want to wait too long to pounce. There are benefits to being early. It can show platform representatives that you’re a believer in the product and the company, which may make them more willing to work with you or build products to help you. For instance, publishers who were early to Twitter, such as The New York Times, were marked “suggested follows” for users and saw huge audience growth.