November 20, 2014

Social Media Strategy: How to Find Your Audience

By Lewis J.

Let’s say that you are a small business owner. Business is good, but it could be better, and you want to find a way to increase sales, find new customers, and promote your company. The solution seems obvious: social media. Half of all Americans and one quarter of the global population have social media profiles, which is why so many companies use it to promote their products and services, create favorable public perception, and attract new business. Best of all, its costs are low, allowing you to compete on almost equal terms with your competitors, regardless of their size. 

Beginner Errors

It’s common for businesses to overextend themselves when moving into social media. They establish accounts on a wide range of platforms (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram) and start pumping out material – posts, tweets, articles, and pics – without creating any appreciable results. Their content doesn’t draw fans, no one shares their posts, and it doesn’t bring in any new business. They become tired of updating their profile and eventually dismiss social media as commercially irrelevant, a passing fad with no return on investment.

Strategizing About Social Media

A select number of companies understand that effectively engaging with social media requires careful planning. The content you release and the platform you release it on have to be considered. Not all social media networks are created equally, and neither is the content that appeals to them. You need to target the social media site most popular with your customers and design content specific to it. Once you have successfully established yourself on one platform, only then should you consider branching out to another. 

Finding Your Audience

Before you can connect with your customers on social media, you need to understand who they are. Ask yourself, who are my customers? Who’s buying my products? Who would I like to buy my products? Where do they live? How old are they? What’s their gender? Their income? Their education level? You are the best starting resource in this endeavor. As a small business owner, you interact with your customers every day. 

If you want to dig further into your target demographic, there are also resources available online that can help. Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+ all have professional business groups. They are a great way to track trends in your industry. Sign up and find out what people are saying and what they’re sharing. For more personalized advice, visit professional internet forums such as Quora, VanillaFormums, and AnswerBase. They’re a great place to gain insight from professionals within your industry. Find out what strategies they’ve used in the past. What have they done that’s been effective? 

If you are still struggling, there are also internet marketing firms such as Mention, MightyBell, or CrowdRiff that can help you uncover your customer base. They monitor online trends, locate consumers, identify their shared interests, and assist you in creating content.

Finding Your Platform

Once you have established your target demographic, you need to decide which network you’ll use to connect with them. Not every social media platform appeals equally to every demographic. There are significant differences even among the most popular.

1. Facebook: the most popular social media platform across all demographics: age, race, education, income, and location (urban vs. rural). Appeals slightly more to women than men. Notable for having a high number of senior citizens.
  • 76 % of female internet users have a Facebook account.
  • 66 % of male internet users have a Facebook account.
  • 45 % of internet users 65 and over have a Facebook account.

2.  Twitter: particularly popular with people under 50 and city-dwellers. Has a racially diverse readership.
  • 50 % of internet users 18-49 tweet.
  • 37 % of internet users in the cities and suburbs tweet.
  • 29 % of Black internet users tweet.

3. LinkedIn: most popular with affluent, college-educated adults. Appeals slightly more to men than women and is the only social media platform more popular with people over 30.
  • 38 % of internet users with a college degree are on LinkedIn.
  • 38 % of internet users who earn $75,000 or more are on LinkedIn.
  • 51 % of internet users 30-64 are on LinkedIn.
  • 24% of male internet users are on LinkedIn.

4. Pinterest: significantly more popular with women than men. It is also popular with affluent individuals and people under 50.
  • 50 % of internet users 18-49 are on Pinterest.
  • 33 % of all female internet users are on Pinterest.
  • 27 % of internet users earning $75,000 or more are on Pinterest.
  • 8 % of male internet users are on Pinterest.
5. Instagram: extremely popular with racially diverse groups of young city-dwellers.
  • 40 % of urban or suburban internet users use Instagram.
  • 37 % of internet users 18-30 use Instagram.
  • 34 % of Black internet users use Instagram.
  • 23 % of Hispanic internet users use Instagram.

For a complete rundown on social media demographics, read the Pew Social Media Update 2013. It contains everything you need to know to find your customers online.  
Once you’ve selected the right site, the next step is to sign up and start creating content. We’ll discuss that more thoroughly next week, beginning with Facebook.

Have a question that I didn’t answer? Leave it in the comments!

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