One aspect of marketing that is now inherent in all business strategies is social media. According to a recent Pew survey, 7 out of 10 Americans currently use some social media app. And whether you like it or not, people are probably talking about your business on social media. Do you want to be part of that conversation? It’s up to you.
So often we think of social media as a sales vehicle – get lots of friends or followers, and then sell them your product. But social media is about building relationships, and if you don’t do that, then your tweets and updates will be like shouting into the wind.
So what should you focus on? As always, the answer is: It depends.
You first need to take a look at your target audience. You should have done this when creating your personas for your marketing plan. Some of the most important questions you need to ask yourself are:
- How old are they?
- Are they male or female?
- Are they high-income or low-income?
The answer to this question goes a long way toward determining what network you’re going to use:
If your audience is 18-29-year-olds, you might want to use Facebook (81% adoption rate), Instagram (64%) or Twitter (40%). If your audience skews older – say 50-65 – Facebook (65%) is your best bet.
Younger people tend to use the newer social media platforms such as Instagram and Snapchat. Most older people – about 80 percent – don’t use Instagram or Twitter. However, YouTube is used by almost everyone, and Pinterest runs across all ages as well (although females use it more than males).
B-to-B or B-to-C?
Another question you need to ask is whether your business caters to consumers or businesses. If you’re B-to-B, then you have to be on LinkedIn, the social media network for professionals. Also important is Twitter; according to a report by the Content Marketing Institute, 87% of B-to-B marketers use Twitter. B-to-C social apps include Facebook, Pinterest and YouTube.
Social media apps compared
Here’s a rundown of each social media platform and what they’re good for:
- Facebook – It’s the 800-pound gorilla among social networks, and for good reason: According to Zephoria Digital Marketing, 2.27 billion people are on it, and 1.1 billion use it daily. Chances are, your customers are on it.
People ages 25-34 are most likely to be on Facebook, and older people are flocking toward it as well. More women than men use it, but all other demographics – location, education, income – are across the board; nothing stands out.
Use Facebook with caution, though: Company pages aren’t as useful as they were in the past. If you post something to a page, you’re lucky if 10 percent of your fans see it. You’ll have to pay to “boost” the post to get it to show up on more of your fans’ feeds. And some businesses have had limited success getting advertising to lead to conversions, even though you can get very detailed with audience segmentation.
- YouTube – Like Facebook, YouTube is huge, and no demographic stands out; everyone uses it. Create your own channel and start adding your own videos. You can get a professional to shoot the videos, but that can get expensive. You can film simple how-to videos with a mobile phone or DSLR, and if you sell software, you can even screencast a demo of your product. Don’t forget to use it on your website, too. You can easily embed YouTube videos on most web publishing platforms.
- Twitter – It’s a fast-moving platform, with 6,000 tweets sent every second. The audience tends to skew younger and more urban; more college graduates use it, as well as people with higher incomes.
You need a monitoring tool to see if your business is being mentioned, and respond quickly to complaints or requests. It can become a valuable customer service tool for consumers, and you can also build relationships with your customers. But it takes time to develop that audience base. Send out quality tweets, follow your fan base, and join in the conversation.
- Instagram – One of the fastest growing social media platforms, Instagram is based solely on photos and images. Like Facebook, it has more female users than male, and the audience skews toward 18-29-year-olds.
If you have a business in which images play a large role in getting business – interior design, construction, beauty, travel – Instagram is the place for you. Create quality posts, follow your fan base, and use hashtags for people searching for your particular topic.
- Pinterest – Females outnumber males by almost 3 to 1 on Pinterest, so keep that in mind. College graduates tend to use it most. One interesting stat: according to Blue Corona, 87% of pinners have purchased a product because of Pinterest. Again, use this if your business needs to tell its story in images.
- LinkedIn – The only true B-to-B social media platform, the demographics tend to skew toward middle-aged college graduates who make more than $75,000 a year. Companies are involved in LinkedIn, as well as most professionals. Get involved in some of the user groups related to your profession, contribute to those groups, and update your status often, and you’ll see your influence grow.
- Snapchat – If teens and college students are your target audience, you can’t overlook Snapchat. According to Pew, 78% of 18-to-24-year-olds use Snapchat, and 71% visit it several times a day. However, it can’t really drive traffic to your website. If you’re looking to increase brand awareness, look at Snapchat closely. Learn how it works, and create a strategy around telling stories and engaging with users.