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Executing a Social Media Exit Strategy
Posted on August 2nd 2012
It’s a fact of life. Everything comes to an end sooner or later. The same goes for social media campaigns and accounts. The trick is knowing when to pull the plug and move on to something bigger and better.
One of the biggest reasons to hit the delete button is to avoid a social media time suck that drains budget resources and doesn’t provide a healthy return on your investment. You also may find that the property has exceeded its shelf life and you’re not generating optimal levels of traffic and engagement anymore. Whatever the reason, you’re now faced with the decision of what to do and move on to something bigger and better.
Obviously, you’ll need to consider the platform carefully. Whether it’s a blog, community, microsite or social networking account, each will have its own factors to consider. But once you put an end to that social media fossil, chances are you’ll find more time and energy to focus on something new. The guilt and baggage from those dated social media accounts will free you to do more. So here are a few things to consider.
Dead Blogs and Communities Serve Up SEO Benefits
If you decide that it doesn’t make sense to sustain your blog, don’t delete it without careful consideration. Blogs, and online communities for that matter, are fantastic repositories of knowledge and opinion for readers seeking out specific content. Depending upon the subject matter, they could yield a wealth of information for many, many years. More than likely, your posts and the reader comments are attracting a fair amount of visitors on a regular basis. You may find that much of the content is still valuable and people are coming across it through their online searches and via your SEO efforts. Check your analytics to determine the level of traffic that’s still coming to the blog, as well as where your visitors are coming from (referral traffic) and the search terms they’re using to find your blog or community. This data could certainly help you shape future marketing strategies or even help you plan your next blog. Make sure you draft and publish a final post explaining the reason for the termination of the blog or online community and thank your readers/contributors for their participation. Don’t forget to include a link they can click to find your organization online, join an affiliate community or a recommended group on a social network like Facebook or LinkedIn.
Expired Campaign Microsites Leverage Inbound Links
Your company may have built an online destination with a very specific purpose in mind. These microsites are usually tied to a creative campaign to drive visibility around a product or service, promote an event, or may even have been used to hold a contest or sweepstakes of some kind. Even though the product has been discontinued, the event has passed or the contest has ended, you may still be attracting visitors from inbound links. Again, it’s about taking advantage of that web traffic (and your brand equity) so don’t cut off that funnel of interested visitors wanting to know more about your organization. Go ahead and tear down the site (make sure you archive your digital assets) but hang onto the domain URL (those are super inexpensive and worth the cost if it means generating an additional stream of traffic). Use a website redirect to your new campaign site, social media page or official web property to connect them with content that’s current. Of course, if you’re not generating traffic than it won’t make sense to keep the domain name. Hit the delete button on the whole thing.
Unattended Social Media Accounts Aren’t Exactly Social
It’s disappointing to come across a business account on a social network that’s been abandoned or doesn’t respond to comments or customer inquiries. Of course, there could be several reasons for this such as budget cuts, inexperienced community managers or a poor social media strategy (brand conversation monitoring is required for all social media programs). Unlike blogs and online communities, social networks operate on a real-time basis. They are meant to provide ongoing dialogue and can become stale and out-of-date rather quickly. If that’s the case, an exit strategy is probably needed.
I wouldn’t recommend deleting brand name accounts on social networks. I’m talking about branded vanity URLs such as pinterest.com/KLMConsulting. While it’s common for businesses to quickly jump onto social networks to secure their brand names (before cyber squatters beat them), the accounts shouldn’t resemble a ghost town with tumble weeds either. If you’re not ready to activate the account, try to make it hidden (Facebook allows you to do that with pages and groups). If you can’t do that, why not post an initial message stating the obvious – “Thanks for visiting our page, we’ll be launching shortly so come back soon!” If it’s a mature page and you’ll only be gone temporarily, then state that in the last post you publish or in the profile. At the very least this sets the tone and shows your commitment to transparent communications. It also tells the visitor that there is some strategy being developed behind closed doors.
Research from Burson-Marsteller cited that the average number of social media accounts is 33 per company. If you have secondary pages that aren’t performing or you simply can’t sustain or maintain the dialogue, then you may want to consider deleting those. Frankly, they could be doing you more harm than good. Most likely, these will be social media accounts that aren’t imperative to your business and do not contain your brand name in the vanity URL. If that’s the case, you’ll want to send a message to your fans or subscribers letting them know the end is near. Just do so with caution since social media accounts cannot be undeleted.