Wikipedia defines social media as “… computer-mediated tools that allow people or companies to create, share, or exchange information, career interests, ideas, and pictures/videos in virtual communities and networks.” The most important phrase in this definition is “virtual communities and networks.” Here is a list of what I consider to be the most relevant social media to the entrepreneur:
Yes, I know there are many more, like Xing, Renren, Disqus, Snapchat, Tumblr, Twoo, Vine, Meetup, and on and on. But for now, let’s use the above list as points for discussion. (Contact Me for more information)
What do you know about your customer?
The Internet has given us the ability to reach, at minimal cost, billions of potential clients. And, it also provides the tools to focus on exactly those groups of prospects who might be most interested in what we have to offer. Knowing your target audience is key to knowing how best to utilize social media.
For example, are you a political candidate who is trying to get their message across to Millennials? Then post to the Ask Me Anything subreddit. (Bernie Sanders has. So has Ron Paul) Be forewarned: Reddit users are merciless when it comes to down-voting posts that are promotional without an immediate value-add. If you’re are looking for a social media platform with more forgiveness then head on over to…
Facebook. Many people dismiss Facebook as a time sinkhole populated by endless memes and reposts. The fact is that, according to the Pew Research Center, 71% of adult internet users go to Facebook. Women are slightly more inclined to use Facebook, and their average age is 18-29. (My experience is that that age may be somewhat older now.) Last time I checked, Facebook has over 1.4 billion users. But don’t take my word for it.
YouTube. The second most-often-used search, after Google, YouTube now has a collection of billions of videos. It reaches more adults ages 18-34 than any single cable TV network. But the overall demographic cuts across all age groups: Over 45 million visitors over age 55 visited in one month in 2015! What are they interested in? Everything, but especially cosmetics and fashion for women, sports and gaming for men. And everyone likes dog videos! Before you discount video as an option for your eMarketing strategy consider this: INC magazine quotes a report that asserts that sites with video engage visitors two minutes longer on average. That’s a very long time, considering the short attention span of the average online shopper/browser.
Google+. There used to be a joke in circulation that the average Google+ user was a Google employee. Even if that were still true, it’s nice to know, especially if you are renting out an apartment in Noe Valley! There is plenty of debate about whether G+ is a viable social media marketing venue. Over 90% of G+ accounts are empty. (Social Media Examiner) But don’t discount G+ as a marketing tool, if your target demographic can be attracted to a G+ community. And, the quality of interactions is certainly on average better than those on Facebook!
Twitter. Users are pretty evenly divided between genders; a few more male than female. Average age is around 30. Nearly 50% are urban or suburban. 54% make more than $70,000/year. Don’t use Twitter to market to 65-year-old ranchers.
Instagram. A photo and short video sharing app, Instagram had over 400 million users as of September, 2015, Instagram users tend to be young; over half are under 29. (This may be changing with the increased popularity of Snapchat.) Slightly more users are female. Instagram allows you to share posting on Twitter and Facebook. I have had good results using Instagram for products where images are important; for example, fashion and fabrics.
Pinterest. A social bookmarking site, like Digg or StumbleUpon, but unlike those, Pinterest is entirely visual. An obvious choice if your products have visual appeal, such as clothing, gifts, home decoration, etc., although even Ziploc uses Pinterest as a promotional tool! Users are predominantly women, over 60% of whom are between the ages of 18-55.
LinkedIn. A professional networking site with over 400 million registered members, LinkedIn is a powerful networking tool that connects professionals with one another. Mainly used to generate leads for employment within various business communities, “…98% of recruiters and 85% of hiring managers use LinkedIn to find candidates” according to Forbes. Another interesting fact: According to Pew Research, LinkedIn usage is high among educated, high-earners. Moreover, it is the only social networking site whose users are in the older (50-64 years old) age demographic.
Blogs. The list is long. WordPress, Squarespace, Posthaven, and many more. Blogger used to be at the top of the list, but many commenters note that Google does not provide the support it once did. I still use it, along with WordPress, and find that content from both show up reliably on search results.
Regardless of which social media you choose for your marketing plan, it’s important to remember these rules for their effective use:
- Have a plan. Know your target audience and which social media they use. Know that you will need to allocate sufficient time to use social media effectively. Do not use a “shotgun” approach to social media. It’s better to use one or two effectively than to use many sporadically.
- Create fresh, valuable content. Merely promoting your latest accomplishments is not enough, unless it provides valuable information to your audience. Don’t give up after a few weeks because you think you aren’t seeing immediate results. But do learn how to use tools to measure results!
- Create brand awareness. Use to drive traffic to your website. Keep a consistent message about your brand.