What has the Fall of The Roman Empire got to do with Social Media? Is this another of those weird analogies that “guru’s” like to throw around? Possibly, though I hope you will see the connection in the way I do. Over the past few years those of us who advise others on how to get the most from marketing through social media channels have agreed that the model which works best for all size businesses is the outpost model. I referred to it as the hub and spoke model others use different terms but we all mean the same thing.
The Collapse of The Social Media Outpost
One of the major contributing factors to the fall of the Roman Empire was its size. It became too big to be sustainable. The Roman’s had outposts at every point of the known world. Communication became harder and harder, supply become harder and the trade that was supposed to flow back to Rome started to diminish. So focused on their outposts were they that they ignored what was going on in their own Capital. In the end the model collapsed. Roman was over-run by hoardes that didn’t rely on developing large empires but instead existed in small groups that were more sustainable.
So how does this affect Social Media? The truth is that the model that so many of us have been promoting is about to collapse. There are just too many outposts. Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, Google Plus, Pinterest, Tumblr, WordPress, Forums, Email, and endless other places to establish an outpost, all with the same end to drive traffic back to our Capital.
Retreating From Your Social Media Outpost
Look at your own statistics, how many of the various sites that you have established as an outpost is actually generating significant traffic? Why are you still there? The low numbers tell you that the people interested in you aren’t there, you are either doing a poor job of maintaining your outpost or you just aren’t providing the locals with what they want. Either way you need to get out before it becomes obvious that you can’t sustain that outpost. In a recent post Chris Brogan says:
2012 is the year where social media oversaturation hits hard. We will scale back on our participation in social networks, and we will most certainly scale back who we choose to follow as sources.
He is right (he usually is), and if that is the case then that scaling back by users means that your content is going to get even less eyeballs at your outposts. Your empire is about to be over-run by hit and run hoardes who are better able to leverage those particular outposts than you are. So why wait for that to happen?
Deciding Which Social Media Outpost To Keep
I am not suggesting you abandon all your outposts, but take a good long hard look at all those outposts you have established and see how often you are posting – not automatically cross-posting from other places, but actually generating original content targeted at that particular audience. If the answer is “not much” then that outpost probably needs to be abandoned.
Just because new sites appear doesn’t mean you should immediately establish an outpost – try instead to see if there is a real fit for your business. Currently lots of people are trying to shoe-horn Pinterest into their marketing mix – for some this will become another cross-posting, under-supplied outpost that will die off in a few months. For others it will become a major driver of traffic, allowing them to remove other outposts that are not performing as well. But simply building an outpost for the sake of it is not a strategy for success.
Which Social Media Outposts can you let go of?