Social Media. Its been the new marketing ‘thing’ for quite some time now and from what I hear it’s not going away.
When the social media networks first came out, many marketers touted the fact they were free as the holy grail of online marketing. But as time wore on, we’ve realized the real investment with social media is time.
And of course since time is money, social media is not free.
What’s so hard about social media?
The hardest part of social media is not getting started on the platforms or building a following – it’s making sure your valuable time is not wasted with the wrong network and the wrong market.
How can you leverage social media for your company when there are so many platforms out there – all with their own features and audiences?
The right tool for the job.
If you were a used car salesman – cold call sales wouldn’t be effective for your product. People want to be able to see it, touch it, look under the hood and take it for a test drive.
You’d be better served with a visual type of marketing such as taking an ad out in the local newspaper – with a big picture of your car and an attention-getting figure for your great prices.
The same goes with social networks – they’re set up in different ways and have features which differ from each other, making each suited to specific types of products, services and messaging.
Wasted efforts = wasted money
If you’re focusing your time and money on the wrong social network, you won’t see the kind of results you would if you targeted correctly for your business type, target market and style of marketing.
On social networks there’s a phenomenon we call passive audience. This describes the majority of followers, fans, etc on the networks – so even though they ‘liked’ you – they won’t actively engage with your content.
Getting your audience to take the step from passive, to active audience is the hardest part of marketing on social media – and it takes the most amount of research and effort on the part of a small business.
Lasers locked on, target acquired.
You wouldn’t adopt a spray and pray attitude to your traditional marketing – so why would you do this in social media?
Spreading as much about your company and service across multiple accounts and networks, just hoping something will get shared or be viewed more than three times is not effective.
You need to focus your time and efforts to the social media network most suited to your brand and products. This will give you the best return on investment for your time
So which network is right for me?
Finding which network is right for you is easier when you know the main features, audience, and benefits of each network – we’ll break this down below for you.
Twitter has risen in popularity over the last 2 years – with a sharp increase in the number of male users aged 18-29.
Overall, Twitter users tend to be urban dwellers who have graduated college and have a slightly above average income. The majority of Twitter users (77%) are located outside of the United States.
Use Twitter if your product or service could be construed as ‘cool’ with the male aged 18-24 crowd or if your marketing tactics include creating funny or shareable videos or bitsized pieces of content.
Don’t focus on Twitter if you aren’t able to easily sell out of the country, or are selling services which aren’t easily used between cities or locations.
In the past it’s been touted as the most effective network for social marketing but has become less so over the last two years since they started introducing pay to promote features for business pages.
Facebook has a higher number of female users (77% of women compared to 66% of men) and while usage in the 18-24 demographic is 87%, the usage among older markets is higher (73% of people aged 30-49 and 63% of people aged 50-64).
If your product or service is geared towards women, aged 30-45 who live in the suburbs of United States, then Facebook is your ideal platform. Facebook users are way of being sold to since the platform started out as a way to keep in touch with loved ones. Your best marketing strategy is to provide useful and handy tips or tricks which can be easily shared and consumed.
Don’t focus on Facebook if your business is primarily aimed towards other businesses or towards professional men.
Always hailed as the social network aimed created for business – it’s no surprise Linkedin remains decidedly geared towards these demographics. Evenly divided between men and women (at 28% and 27% respectively), the individuals which use LinkedIn have a higher annual income, are older and have completed more higher education than members of other social networks.
The drawbacks of LinkedIn is people’s inherit perception of it as a job related platform. There usually isn’t a lot of liking or following going on here and in order to market to these people you would need to create posts on your business page and pay to promote them or use their new ad targeting system.
If your service is better geared towards businesses, or if the people you need to target are higher up in a company’s hierarchy – then LinkedIn is the way to go. Overall the investment in time and money is greater for LinkedIn but since the market has a higher ROI, you could balance out in the end.
Before Facebook bought Instagram it wasn’t taken very seriously as a platform with much success in the social marketing field. Since then, an influx has increased it’s user base to almost 300 million users and it’s fast becoming a great tool for targeting younger audiences.
Average age on Instagram is 18-29, with almost 53% of young people having an account. Average income earned is less – with 28% of users having an income less than $30k. There is a slight inclination for users to be female (29% compared to 22% for males) and over 28% of users live in urban settings.
The barrier to entry is rather low due to Instagram’s simplicity – to get started just grab your smartphone and go. Instagram is designed to be consumed on a smartphone, so the only realiable way to interact with it is to download the app and start posting.
If you have a product based, highly visual company targeted towards young, urban women – Instagram is the way to go. This platform does well with contests for sharing images and following to be entered, with looser guidelines on contests than Facebook currently has.
Often touted as the housewives social network – the reasoning (while a touch insensitive) does accurately reflect the demographic of Pinterest’s main users.
Over 42% of women have a Pinterest account and of these women, 34% of them are aged 18-29. Pinterest users differ from other social networks in the fact they are skewed to the rural areas and have a much higher income (over 30% make +$75k).
When Pinterest first came out it wasn’t easy to see how a company could be effective with it but over the last year they’ve increased the friendliness of their platform with the creation of business accounts and the ability to promote posts to increase their views.
If your services or products are geared towards women in the home then Pinterest should be your main social network. It’s very visual so be prepared to create compelling images and perhaps spend a bit of money to start promoting your posts as you get traction.
Wow. That’s a lot of networks – how do I choose?
With all marketing, it will really depend on your target market. If your product is geared towards cool, younger women – Instagram and Pinterest are your best bet.
For younger males – Twitter.
For older professionals – LinkedIn and Facebook.
Examine the target markets in each before you invest too much time or money in them – spend a day doing research on the top posts pages in each network and figure out how you could tailor your own offerings to be successful.
If your company doesn’t fit the model then don;t waste time trying to force it – once you’re successful on one or two platforms, it’s easier to branch out but trying to make it on all at once is setting yourself up for failure.
When you’re getting started with social media, pick 2 networks to focus on and no more. Don’t spread yourself too thin and set yourself up for failure right out of the gate.
Allow yourself time to get really comfortable with each one. Learn the lingo and how it’s users communicate – the best marketers on each platform are ones who fit right in without forcing the conversation to fit their needs.
Overall the highest hurdle in social media is people being naturally more aware and adverse to being sold to. They are more suspicious of sponsored posts and ‘have their guards up’ so to speak, for marketing tactics.
For this reason, we need to evolve our marketing tactics to focus on building a community and a rapport with your followers. Deliver consistent and high quality value, with no strings attached and focus on keeping your name top of mind when they do think of your services or products
It can be done – and it can be done well.
Social media isn’t a mystical land where only the cool and hip businesses are making money – it’s a different mindset than traditional marketing, but it can be just as effective.
Interested in reading how other companies have done it? Start by reading case studies of business’ who have achieved success on these platforms to see if you can pick up some tricks for what has worked for them. Here are some good case studies to get you started:
Social media can be a benefit or a drain on your marketing budget depending on how you approach it. Maintaining consistency and quality is key to seeing real results from your efforts.
Good luck and make sure to like us as well on LinkedIn.