Stop running to new social networks

Take a breath, brands. Stick to the big platforms.
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· 4 min read

This week in Elon: The Washington Post reported that over a third of Twitter’s top 100 advertisers are doing their best Elvis impressions—they have left the building. That got me thinking about the conversations happening inside marketing conference rooms. I can hear your wonders, marketers. What about Mastodon? BeReal? Hive Social? Is it time to try one of the newbies?

I’d say no. If you’re gonna abandon ship on a social network, don’t do it for an unproven social platform that’s barely made it out of the gate.

New social networks require new best practices

There’s no greater timesink than learning a new social network full of new best practices, made especially painful since so many networks emphasize unheard of innovative twists on social media. Social media managers are already massively overworked managing the current networks—you cannot justify tossing another social platform on their plates when every other platform’s performing well.

If you can easily repurpose content for a new social network? Fine, you can consider it. That’s an efficiency, like how brands can easily make TikToks and Instagram Reels simultaneously.

But even then, those new social networks may not have scheduling tools like Buffer or Sprinklr to schedule content. There won’t be plug-ins to analytics platforms yet like Sprout Social or HubSpot. Working on a new social network can be a completely manual process that may actually take more time than any of the existing social platforms.

There’s no real benefit to being first

Bobby Axelrod said it best: “Being early is the same as being wrong.” The fictional hedge fund CEO from Showtime’s Billions was no social strategist, but his thinking still applies.

No one’s following your brand because you’re the first brand on a social network—no consumer’s ever thought that way. Sure, you could argue new networks aren’t as content oversaturated as the big guys, but again, you’re a brand. We don’t anxiously await your arrival. Being the first brand to make content on a new platform is a PR headline, not a social strategy.

A Social Media Newsletter by Jack Appleby

Waiting is good—necessary even. Wait until the networks grow. Watch how early adopters approach the platform. Most importantly, remember there’s no such thing as being late to a social network—you’re not missing the boat, you’re just making sure it won’t sink.

That said, it is worth “parking” your name on that social network. I have no plans to use Hive, but you can bet I grabbed @jappleby to reserve the right + make sure no one impersonates me. When I was at agencies, we’d always run to new networks to secure our names, juuuust in case. Your brand doesn’t wanna end up like Eli Lilly.

Scale matters

Elon loudly boasted about Twitter’s user numbers since his takeover, tweeting that the bird app added 7.1 million daily active users since October 2 to hit an all-time high this week of 213.8 million. Regardless of anyone’s feelings toward Musk, the dwindling staff, or brand safety, we can’t ignore that Twitter’s still a massive social network.

Twitter’s at 450 million monthly active users. Instagram? 500 million daily.

BeReal has 10 million daily active users.

Mastodon just hit 1 million monthly active users.

Hive Social just hit 1 million users.

These new networks are tiny. They’re microscopic in comparison to Twitter, TikTok, and the Meta-owned social networks. That means an incredibly low ceiling for content performance—there just aren’t enough people on the platforms to justify the blood, sweat, tears, budget, and staffing it takes to properly start attacking a new social network. It’s bad math.

If you truly want to abandon one of the major social networks, doubling down on a different major social network is the move. Focus even more on that audience you’ve already built—not starting from scratch on a new network with very few users. In the current economic times, effectiveness of advertising + staffing spend is essential, and there are much safer bets on established platforms than new platforms.

A Social Media Newsletter by Jack Appleby