If you are business using social media or considering using social media as part of your marketing plan then make sure you are considering your audience.
Where and Who – You Can Choose Your Friends, but Not All Your Connections
One of the first considerations you should make before you do business in social media is understand where your audience came from. Not all social media platforms are the same. They each have a distinct purpose, and a distinct audience, they are not all created equal.
For instance, in Facebook you choose your friends. Most people do not accept every friend request, and you probably shouldn’t. Typically on Facebookl we choose friends that we know or have some association with. After all they are “friends”. They can be business colleagues but we have them because we purposely chose them.
Twitter on the other hand chooses us in the form of a follower. We have little or no control over where our audience comes from. It’s easy to get followers, just start following people. You will find that if you start following enough people about 50% of them will follow you back. It’s interesting because people will say they have 1000’s of followers, but do they really? Or do they have a group of people that pay very little attention to what they “tweet” so that they can boost their own follower numbers? Can someone really pay attention to the 100’s of people they follow much less the 1000’s they might follow. Not unless it’s the only thing they do all day. If you are in business you should consider whether you would rather have a few hundred people that follow you because of what you say, or people who follow you so they can boost their numbers?
Then take the social network LinkedIn. Where do those connections come from? Here we have a combination of factors. They usually come from our initial attempts to invite people we know, or people who know us, whether that be friends or business colleagues. Then we start gathering connections from associations we have had, more than likely from business. From there we start connecting because we join a group, or know someone who believes we would be a good contact for someone else. However, what we start to see is that as we move from who we know to a recommended connection our knowledge of where and who connects with us becomes more distant. It can get to the point where you are not even sure who some of these connections are on your LinkedIn network.
The where is important because know where someone came from gives us clues to how they want to be talked to. If you know where a friend, follower, or connection came from, it makes it easier to know how to approach them with regard to social media marketing or if they should be approached at all. It also makes it easier to determine what message I want to send them. Consider this, do I want to send the same message to people I chose vs. people that chose me?
Knowing who your social media audience is, may be the most overlooked part of social media marketing. The more I research the so called “experts” and “gurus”, the more I find that they ignore this part of the social media for business marketing strategy. As a matter of fact they may be the biggest abusers of social media marketing!
If you are business who is using social media marketing right now I have a question for you. What do you really know about the people who you are connected with in your social media networks? If you are like most businesses you probably have not even looked at the data. You probably were not even told to consider it. You may have even been told by some social media expert to just blanket all your social networks with the same marketing message. This is not the most effective way for any business to run a social media campaign. Why? Does the term “target marketing” mean anything to you? The one thing we absolutely know is that “target marketing” works, it is the most effective means by which business tailors their product or service to the exact people that have the potential to purchase their product or service. We already know that there is a difference of where our connections come from in each social network, we are just as certain we know there is a difference in who those people are.
In addition, if you are like most people on these social networks you are probably connected to a number of people who are in the same industry as you are. So who is seeing your marketing message? People just like you who are not part of your real “target market”. True, they understand what you are trying to do, but, they are doing the same thing back. If you are sending your marketing message to people who may read your message, but will never buy from you, are you really marketing?
The concept of “target marketing” is so applicable and necessary. Do your research on your own networks. Please don’t ignore it. There are consequences for marketing to the wrong audience. In some cases you may not even know the consequences. For instance, people will start hiding your updates on Facebook, rather than removing you as a friend. Your social media marketing may have backfired and you may not even know it.
In Twitter, you may see more people unfollow you because of your marketing efforts. In LinkedIn, you may just ignored. The problem for business in most cases is not what you know, but what you don’t know. When people ignore your business, or do not comment about it, it is more damaging than when they say something negative about it. At least when they say something negative you can attempt to find solutions to fix the problem. When you get no response, or are ignored you do not know what you should fix. Knowing your social media target markets can help reduce this problem so that you are getting the right message to the right people in the right way.
The argument to what I just said is this: “well if people “unfollow” me, “hide” me, remove me, or ignore me then all I have done is found my target audience”. My answer: Maybe. Understand that in the case of Facebook where we choose our friends there is an expectation of why I chose to be a “friend” with you. I didn’t choose you for business purposes. Most people do not. For most people, they chose you because they expect you to be a friend. The last time I talked with my friends, I talked about what friends talk about, life. I don’t walk up to my friend and say, “Hi Bob, It’s Dr. Jay the Internet Doctor, and I have my new promotion this week, and this week only, take advantage of this great deal!” Can you imagine if you had those conversations with your friends in person? If those are the type of conversations you have with your “friends”, I would hardly call them “friends”, and I would suggest that you need to learn what a “friend” is. It’s just an entirely different audience based on who they are and where they came from.
Twitter is different, but again, many of your followers probably belong to some similar organization or group. As an example, I find this especially true of real estate agents. They follow each other. They do their marketing, and I am sure somewhere in the back of their mind they hope they market to a person who is interested in their latest listing, but typically it is going to another real estate agent who probably is trying to sell their own listings. In most cases the message reaches the wrong audience and goes no where. Just a lot of time wasted on typing up something that has very little chance of reaching the targeted audience you think you are hitting.
LinkedIn, can have much of the same problems as Twitter. While marketing is far more accepted, getting yourself in front of the right target market audience still presents a challenge. Remember these people are business professionals, do they really want their emails cluttered with your self promotion or promotion of your product or service? Probably not. They would rather that you use the market section for your promotion. They probably will not delete or remove you, but you will more than likely get ignored. Unless of course you push your marketing too much and too often, then they may be waving you “bye-bye”, and that does not help you or your business.
1. Go through your social networks and start looking at who your connections are, and where they came from and put together your social networks demographics.
The best thing you can do for your business and social media for business strategy is to know as much as you can about the people who you are connected with. Don’t make assumptions! One of the biggest mistakes we make is that we are overconfident in knowing what we think we know. Start looking at people as if you never knew them and start constructing your frame work. Start with categories of gender, age, children, no children, , type of job or career, approximate income (base that on their job, you can find an average income for any job through the search engines), etc. Be creative and keep your eyes open you may see categories that you would have never thought of.
2. After you construct the demographics of your networks determine how they are different.
Look at each network separately and look for differences, no matter how subtle. For instance, if you see that you have a network that is older in age than another, they are in a different stage of life, you are going to want to approach that network differently than if they were younger. Also if you see that you have one network that is heavy with people that are in your same industry, you may want to start working on attracting people that are more suited to your potential target market.
3. Never use a “one widget fits all” that says the same thing to different social networks.
The first thing it says, is that you are personally disconnected from your social network. It’s also says, you are lazy and don’t want to take the time to talk to people on a personal level. Remember this is “social” networking, not “advertising” networking, or “promotion” networking. Note, that people can see in any social network where you sent a status update from. If you use a widget that is a “one size fits all”, we know it. From a consumer perspective they find that to be very “non-social” in their social networking.
4. Get to know the people in your social network through comments.
The most frustrating thing for people on social networks is someone who wants to be a friend, a connection, or be followed but they don’t want to engage with those people.
they just want to advertise, promote or market. If you want me to believe that you are really the best person for the job, then show me by commenting on my updates, or let me see that you are commenting on other peoples updates. Remember if you want to understand your target market, and I hope you do, then you need to learn what’s important to your potential consumer. Again, do not make the assumption that you think you already know everything about people, even the people in your networks.
5. Track your comments, posts, and status updates.
What is it that you write that people respond to most? You will find that it is some of the most mundane, innocent, unique things that you write get the most responses. Track it. You have found another clue into what your potential consumer is interested in. It also means that you are creating dialogue. If you create dialogue with another person the potential for your business is exponential. They learn that you are human. They learn that you care. They learn that you can be trusted. If they trust you, they will trust what you do. This can be a win-win for both your potential consumer and you.
To you social marketing success!
Jay Izso, Internet Doctor