By and large, consumers expect businesses to be in the social space. While it is unrealistic to think that most businesses will hire a dedicated community manager to build and maintain a social “community,” some quality time spent planning how to most effectively reach your target audience can help make a stronger impact with the resources you invest in social.
So here are five questions to start the process to identify your social targets and how to best reach them. The answers to these questions will outline your strategy for a successful social campaign.
Who are you targeting?
Is your business local, regional, national or international? What age demographic is most likely to use your product? Is your product more appealing to a gender, or to a particular interest group? Each social platform has slightly different reach into varying demographics and there may be a one that is more appropriate than others to connect to your target audience. Another consideration may be to target “power users”– the 5% of Twitter users and the 20% of Facebook users who drive most of the action on these networks (one can presume that these users exist in other networks as well).
What content is relevant to your audience?
One insight that businesses don’t consider often is why people use social spaces. They aren’t using them to find random, wrote information about your business. They use the social space to perpetuate social connections. Rather than using social as a company billboard it’s important to post relevant content, and more importantly to interact with people as much as possible. Rather than trying to tell people something, listening and commenting helps to build goodwill and make your audience more open to your message.
When is the most appropriate time to share?
Primetime for social usage is pretty logical. On work days, lunch time and immediately after work are the times when social has highest usage. Weekends vary. In the U.S., there is a larger social audience on the east coast than the Midwest, which is higher than the west coast. There is some variation of “primetime” for any audience in any location.
Where should your social space be?
This can be a question of what platform an audience primarily uses, but I tend to think of it more as a question of what platform you’re passionate about. Facebook has a huge audience and is the platform that most people target. But Facebook is difficult for businesses to use. You need scale to be effective, reaching out individually to people is difficult, and there is evidence that Facebook diminishes brand posts in deference to personal content. Twitter or Google Plus are platforms well-suited for direct B2B and B2C contact. Pinterest has all of the sharing and commenting functionality that Facebook does. LinkedIn and Quora have robust communities around questions and answers.
Would it be a good business decision to put all of your emphasis into Pinterest and not have a Facebook or Twitter presence? Absolutely. Social is about building community – and you should build it where you’re excited to be. If you’re not into Facebook, people know. And what’s the point of promoting your business half-heartedly?
Why am I sharing?
Here is the big question. There is a virtual ghost town of Facebook profiles, Twitter profiles, and web sites. Many companies start an outreach effort but don’t commit the proper resources to sustaining it. I’m a huge proponent for businesses to suspend their social efforts if they’re not committed to them. A social community takes a lot of effort to grow and sustain – and there is power in that network. Similarly, if the network isn’t properly fostered it can harm a company’s reputation. (Note that I mention websites because a website landing page should be the first thing you look at before building a social presence.)
Hopefully that gives you a sense for some of the big questions you should be asking when considering social outreach for your business. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution but anything you can do to hone your presence will give you more return on the investment you make into social.