Social Media Strategy

Is Your Social Network a Puppy or a Dog?

social media puppy

Jay Baer Blog PostThere’s nothing better than getting a new puppy. He’s so exciting and vibrant and interesting and funny. It’s fun to think about what he’ll be like when he grows up. Everywhere you go people ask you about him, and look at him, and want to hold him.

And then the puppy does grow up. And you have to feed him and wash him and brush him and clean up after him. When you go to the park people don’t dislike him necessarily, but they don’t gravitate toward him because he’s no longer a special little puppy, he’s a decidedly less special dog.

If you and your company have never met a social network you didn’t embrace, and your home page is positively festooned with icons signifying your social media Manifest Destiny, I can almost guarantee you bought a puppy and now find yourself with a dog. Is Pinterest your dog? Tumblr? Google Plus? Linkedin company page? Instagram?

The seemingly limitless potential of a new social network creates a strong gravitational pull, and we justify jumping aboard by telling ourselves this lie:

“We’re already active in all these other places, adding one more won’t be a big problem”

But it is a problem. Every puppy you buy takes time away from the care and attention you can provide to your existing pets. Two recommendations:

First, do not get involved in another social network unless you have a defined plan for long-term success, and are adding resources in parallel with your expanded footprint.

Second, pulling back your borders isn’t a crime. If you’re feeling stretched too thin, it’s probably because you are. Yet, with the possible exception of MySpace and Flickr, do we ever see companies abandoning social outposts? Almost never.

You’ll have greater overall success if you have the time and creative energy to be terrific in fewer outposts, than if you have to take care of a whole pack of dogs.

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  1. says

    I agree 100%. Don’t make a mess of your Social Media Narketing by doing a poor job across all platforms. It is better to do a great job on one. I love the puppy / dog analogy. It is so true.

  2. says

    My dog turned out to be Facebook. As a B2B in a specialized niche, it took me a long time to admit that Facebook was a waste of my time. Everybody kept telling me I was wrong but when I finally got rid of the dog, I was able to pay attention to my more productive channels. Right on Jay, as usual.

  3. says

    Love the analogy here, Jay. I call this shiny object syndrome, but I think this description is spot on. I always tell companies to master one social network first before adding another one. And, of course, before you do, you need to make sure adding others even make sense for your business.

  4. says

    I typically use a “take care of your lawn” or front yard v. back yard analogy — but it often meets stares when I use these with city types in Cambridge/Boston. The puppy/dog imagery is much more universal. I like it!

  5. says

    The analogy and the idea behind this article is brilliant. It is so much true: “You’ll have greater overall success if you have the time and creative energy to be terrific in fewer outposts, than if you have to take care of a whole pack of dogs.” Focusing on just one (or two) social platform/s (and doing a good job there) usually brings more fruit than trying to focus in multiple areas. Great post Jay, thanks for sharing it with us.

  6. says

    Great analogy. Once your online following becomes larger, social media moderation becomes a more tedious task. To be able to keep up, businesses should assemble social media marketing teams.

  7. jeff gonzalez-beauty schools says

    It seems as social media followers become a larger group that monitoring every post becomes a fulltime job. The comparisons above really point out key items that will impact sooner or later with a larger audience.

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