Social media column: Why you need a marketing test kitchen

With all the shiny new things in marketing today, it can be hard to not be overwhelmed. From Facebook live video to Snapchat, we constantly are bombarded with examples of marketers doing cool things with new forms of content and media.

It can be easy to fall into the trap of checklist marketing — checking all these shiny new things arbitrarily off a checklist, regardless of what makes the most sense for your business.

Employing more forms of marketing and media doesn’t necessarily mean that you are marketing more effectively. A presence on every social network and creating every form of content isn’t essential for every brand.

More isn’t always better. Sometimes more is just more.

Keep Your Head Out of the Sand

But you can go too far with the whole “less is more” thing, too. While it’s true that, as a marketer, you don’t need to do everything — moreover, most simply can’t from a resource standpoint — that doesn’t mean you can hide with your head in the sand.

Take Snapchat, for example. It’s hard not to feel like you need to check this exciting new network off your list. As a consultant, it’s been one of the biggest questions I’ve heard in meetings: “What about Snapchat? Should we be doing something there?”

You can’t ignore the stats. More millennials are using Snapchat than other social networks. For the first time in their decade of tracking social media use in the United States, Edison Research’s most recent Infinite Dial study shows that Facebook is no longer the top network in every demographic.

Just a couple weeks ago Snapchat surpassed Twitter in daily active users. Make no mistake about it, Snapchat should be on your radar as should several other shiny new things.

But what should you do about it?

Your New Motto? Experiment

If you shouldn’t do everything — but also can’t afford to avoid new forms of marketing — it’s fair to ask what exactly you should be doing. As someone who enjoys the task of meal planning and cooking (short answer: I find it soothing as it’s creative and doesn’t take place in front of a screen), I’m a huge fan of America’s Test Kitchen cookbooks, shows and digital content.

The name says it best: America’s Test Kitchen is devoted to testing everything in the kitchen from recipes and ingredients to pots, pans and other tools of the trade. For example, they experiment with all the taco recipes to find what works best. (Theirs does — it involves coriander and cider vinegar and will change the way you make tacos.)

As a marketer, that’s what you have to do. A network such as Snapchat or a popular form of content may or may not make sense for your brand.

To determine this, you have to have an understanding of what everything does and how it works. Which seasonings add flavor and depth. Which networks create awareness and which ones drive leads.

Your brand may not be active on everything, but you need to test it out personally. Even if it’s just lurking on Snapchat or listening to a lot of podcasts.

You may not end up cooking everything, but you have to try as many of the ingredients as you can in your marketing test kitchen.

In the words of Cole Porter, “Experiment. Make it your motto day and night. Experiment. And it will lead you to the light.” Isn’t that what we’re all looking for? The light to help us make sense and make the most of marketing today?

You can only find the best path forward if you continue to experiment. Make it your motto as a marketer.

Nick Westergaard is founder of Brand Driven Digital, [email protected],@nickwestergaard

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