Racing to be first might not always be the best

I happened to read an earlier post on MSNBC featuring Mashable.com editor Adam Ostrow talking about how people can become overloaded by all the different web 2.0 startup applications emerging practically every day. Perhaps what I enjoyed best about this article was this quote that relates to all marketers out there that feel that they need to be a part of every social media site out there:

“There are two purposes to social networks,” says Jason Alba, author of “I’m On Facebook, Now What?” and “I’m on LinkedIn, Now What?” “One is for networking, and the other is to enhance your brand.”

Whether it’s Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, blogs, Myspace, Friendster (wait, who uses this?), Bebo, Viddler, YouTube, Squidoo, WhyGoSolo, etc., it’s not necessary for your company to be engaged in every single application. Sure, some of your competitors may be using podcasts on their site, but does it fit into your marketing strategy? Adding new features on your site and services are highly beneficial, but if you don’t know how to maintain this strategy or even have someone to oversee its progress, then you might want to scale down your efforts.

Okay, you might be asking “then why are you telling us to merge our marketing with the Internet?” Well that’s the best way to go. Don’t shy away from the Internet. It’s a very powerful tool to market your product, but at the same time, don’t go overboard and seek out every opportunity. For someone passionate in the digital arena, they would probably be interested in every application that came out and would want to explore it just to get a better understanding. But for a company, that would be ill-advised. You need to be sure where your audience is:

Credit: Outsell, Inc.
Web site
Who should join?
Membership
MySpace Everybody 110 million users
Facebook Everybody 80 million active users
ThomasNet Engineers 40 million user sessions
LinkedIn Professionals 23 million users
XING Professionals 5.7 million users
Sales Spider Business owners 2 million users per month
Plaxo Everybody 1 million monthly users
ITtoolbox IT professionals 700 discussion groups
Jigsaw Data Professionals 500 companies, 450,000 users
Ryze Professionals 120,000 users
Fast Pitch! Professionals 50,000 users

Just because your competitor is choosing to have a message board on their website, does that mean that you should too? What if they started using podcasts? Would it necessarily make sense? The next microblogging application may come out soon, but should you use it when Twitter or Plurk works for your business needs?

Don’t get me wrong, each company is different. Before you jump into the latest technology, make sure that you evaluate it to make sure that its services best serves the marketing bottom line.

By Ken Yeung

Ken Yeung is a journalist fascinated with the stories of the tech industry and internet culture. He's currently the Technology Editor at Flipboard, where he observes what's happening in the space while also identifying new topics of interest. In addition, he co-hosts the weekly internet show "The Created Economy," which focuses on what's happening to creators and influencers. Previously, he was a reporter for VentureBeat and The Next Web, covering tech startups, the industry's innovations and funding. Ken also has a newsletter you should also subscribe to called "Filed."