Use Social Media to Power Up Your Marketing Strategy

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:

  • YouTube
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Instagram
  • Pinterest
  • LinkedIn
  • Reddit

Yes, I know there are many more, like  Snapchat, Tumblr, Twoo, TikTok, and on and on. But for now, let’s use the above list as points for discussion.

Know Your Customer to Market Effectively

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, 79% of internet users go to Facebook, and 75% of those spend more than 20 minutes a day. Women are more inclined to use Facebook (83% vs 73% men), and their average age is 18-49. (My experience is that that age may be somewhat older now.) Last time I checked, Facebook has over 1.9 billion users.

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 asserting 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.

Twitter. Over 100 million active users daily. Users are pretty evenly divided between genders; a few more male than female. 37% of Twitter users are between ages of 18 and 29, 25% users are 30-49 years old. Nearly 50% are urban or suburban. 56% make more than $50,000/year. Don’t use Twitter to market to 65-year-old ranchers.

Instagram. Owned by Facebook.  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 & TikTok.) 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, art, travel. You can link Instagram so that your posts automatically appear on your Facebook page as well.

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.

Know How to Use Social Media Effectively

Regardless of which social media you choose for your marketing plan, it’s important to remember these rules for their effective use:

  1. 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.
  2. Create fresh, valuable content, based on a content plan.  Merely promoting your latest accomplishments is not enough, unless it provides valuable information to your audience. You are playing the long game with social media; 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!
  3. Create brand awareness. Use to drive traffic to your website. Keep a consistent message about your brand. Use your keywords throughout.
  4. Be consistent. You are far more likely to gain followers, and shares, if you provide consistent, relevant postings. For example, if you are managing your author fan page on Facebook, then there is little likelihood that the latest cat video is helpful. Unless you write about cats.
  5. Interact. Whatever you do, remember that social media is just that–social. If your only postings are self-centered promotions, you won’t get many followers outside of your friends and family. Take the time to respond to other people’s posts–not just with a “like” or emoji, but with a well-thought out comment. Contribute value. 

Update, January 2020: Remember when kids were all over Facebook? Now it’s uncool. Parents crashed the party. Besides, there’s Snapchat, Instagram, and  now, TikTok. When it comes to social media, kids are early adopters. But do not dismiss TikTok because you think it’s for teens and tweens. It is already changing. Unlike other social media, you can get started with TikTok without signing up for an account. Just install the app, start watching, and you will quickly see why it can become very addictive. TikTok uses machine learning (AI) more effectively, in my opinion, than YouTube. TikTok starts out by showing you random short videos, some clever, some boring, some eyebrow-raising, and it very quickly applies its machine learning algorithm to knowing what interests you, and tailoring the “for you” feed to those interests, without you telling it anything, other than just watching.  You can imagine the power of an app like this for targeted advertising.