So, you’ve made the choice to put your business out there on social media. Great! Now what?
Now you need to choose which forms of social media you’re going to use. You can use a property you own, like a blog on your website. Or you can create a business page on one of the many social networking sites out there. The question is which ones?
The simple answer to that is you want to be on the platform where your customers are. If you don’t know where that is, then it’s time to do some research.
1. Start with demographics.
Who is your ideal customer? These are things like age, gender, income, marital status, education, occupation and so on. Take the demographic elements that describe your ideal customer. That’s called a persona, which is a demographic sketch of your ideal customer. Then, look at where that ideal persona spends his/her time on social media. The Pew Internet Research studies can be useful for this kind of research.
2. Choose networks that fit your product or service.
This is going beyond the big platforms. Facebook is the “mothership” of social networks. Sheer numbers (1.35 billion people log into Facebook monthly) make it viable for almost everyone. But, Facebook has changed their business model. It’s now very difficult for companies to show up in users’ news feeds without paying for advertising. It can be done, but it takes a lot of work.
Does your business offer a visual product or service? Things like (but certainly not limited to) beauty, fashion, crafts, cooking or anything wedding-related. If so, you should consider Pinterest and Instagram as additions to your social strategy. Both platforms are image-based. Instagram boasts the highest engagement rate of any social media platform. Pinterest has a combined benefit of functioning like a visual search engine while still driving sales. Pinterest’s user base is heavily female, but men are starting to catch up. According to Ahaology research, men are 36% more likely to have joined Pinterest in the last six months than women. If your main customer perona is male, don’t automatically rule Pinterest out. Remember to check your demographics to make sure the site fits your business (see above). And, remember that women influence as much as 85% of consumer purchases, so women can use Pinterest to shop for the men in their lives.
3. Research your direct competitors
A thorough competitive analysis will yield a treasure trove of information. If you’re competing with a company for the same market, it’s a safe bet that you should be using the same networks as your competition. A bonus to this kind of research is that you can get an idea of what kind of content works, generally speaking, on those social platforms. You can take the basics and run with them as a starting point. You’ll still want to give your posts your own spin and voice.
4. Use the sites themselves as research tools
Search the social media sites themselves. A hashtag search of Instagram or Twitter can give you information about your customers and their interests. Facebook’s Open Graph search is incredibly powerful. It gives you information about your company’s fans, and also about your competition’s fans. The social media platforms built-in search tools are gold mines of information just waiting for you to use. The data you find can help you determine if that platform is the right place for you.