social media strategy, social networks

Social Media Decision Trees: When To Dive Deeper

2 Comments 01 July 2011

Image courtesy of Daquella Manera, Flickr Creative Commons

My time is so stretched nowadays between personal life and professional life that when a new social platform such as today’s launch of Google+ comes around, I wonder: do I have time for yet another social network? Of course, I spent much of today hopping on and off of Google+ checking out what the other techies like me were doing with it, and exploring the Shiny New Platform. It really brought to mind how one decides which platform to dive deeply into and spend a lot of time on versus the platforms to skim or avoid. What we need is a well-defined decision tree for choosing where to dive deeply.

Every one of my experiences with a new social space involves at least these steps:

1. Think it’s the Next Big Thing so I have to

2. Sign up

3. Stumble around in the dark and try to understand the tool and whatever culture has been established

4. Pay attention to who is using it and how

5. Figure out the value to me (personally) and to nonprofit organizations (professionally), and dive deeper if need be

6. Think about the return on engagement

7. If I think that the return could be high, stick with it and create test scenarios

8. Evaluating the platform based on strategic objectives

Somewhere around step 6, I realized that I needed to create a decision tree.

Social Media Platform Decision Trees

It’s hard to know where to spend most of our limited time with social media. For now, Facebook is the “must be there” platform for nonprofit organizations, complemented by the use of it as the water cooler where friendships are made and maintained. But what about the next Shiny New Platform? It’s worthwhile to answer some gateway questions that will help you make the decision to dive deeper or not. Entry-level gateway decisions may include:

  • Is this where your target audience meets and engages?
  • Does the tool itself do what you need or want it to do?
  • Will it serve the goals of your organization or project objectives?

If you’re answering yes to all three, I recommend diving deeper and staying within it until you decide a.) It’s not the right platform, or b.) You need more information and activity on the platform to know how to proceed. You’ll have to dive deep, initially, to understand its real value and know if it is the right channel for you to use.

Once you’ve decided that a platform might be right for your company, further decision refinement questions might include:

  • How much time do I need to invest to see a return?
  • Does my organization have the capacity to maintain our presence effectively?
  • What metrics are built into the platform? If not, how would you begin to measure use, engagement, ROE?
  • Who in the organization is the right person(s) to own this?

I’ve created a basic decision tree to illustrate some of these social media platform decisions:


I have to make the time for initial exploration on every Shiny New Platform. My goal is to try to understand its potential value and perceived value as quickly as possible. I’ll be doing this with Google+, and hope to publish my initial thoughts on it next week.

What is your decision tree? How would you refine this social media platform decision tree?


  • JackHumphrey

    One adjustment might be in order to first step:  I’d have to add “Is this where I can pick up intel, as a blogger, thought leader for a community, to use for content, teaching, passing around the rest of my social net?”

    That part, for me and surely other bloggers, has to be considered.  But it doesn’t fit everyone.  That’s just an adjustment I’d have to make to the decision tree and that one, currently, is why I’m interested in G+.  

    Since the masses aren’t there yet, the first decision in your tree (for Google+) would be for most people who don’t cater to geeks, a definite “No.”


    Debra Askanase Reply:

    Jack, great adjustment! Thanks for adding that.



Debra Askanase is an experienced digital engagement strategist, non-profit executive, and community organizer. She works with mission-driven organizations to develop digital strategies and campaigns that engage, create trust, and move stakeholders to action. Debra speaks at conferences worldwide on the intersection of technology, social media, and nonprofit organizations.

Follow Debra

Subscribe via email




© 2020 Social Media Strategy for Mission-Driven Organizations.

Site by Arrow Root Media