One of the most common social media questions businesses ask is “what social networks should my business be on?” With so many social networks around, and new ones popping up each day, it’s a good question.
It’s easy to think all you need to do is set up a Facebook Page and Twitter account for your business, start posting updates, and watch the leads and sales roll in. It’s not quite that straight forward.
Before you can begin to see any social media success, you need identify what social networks you should use. And that means you need to know what social networks your audience use.
After all, there’s no point using Facebook if your audience prefers Pinterest.
Do your audience even use social media?
Not everyone is on social media. In August 2014, the global number of social media users passed 2 billion. That’s a lot of people, but to put it into perspective, the earth’s population was estimated to have passed 7 billion in 2011.
Consider what type of people your audience are and what their habits are. Let’s look at two simple examples:
- Your audience are people over the age of 70, and most of them don’t use social media. In this scenario, your time and money would be better spend carrying out marketing activities that appeal to them.
- Your audience are people between the ages of 13-17 who are regular social media users. In this case, having a social media presence would be useful.
But, how do you find your target audience on social media?
There are multiple ways to find your audience on social media, which we’ll go through below.
Search for them
It’s that simple! Social media networks have search functions, so consider keywords and key phrases people would use to talk about your products, services and sector, and search for them.
The more results you find for those words and phrases, the larger your target audience is likely to be on that particular social network. If you have a shop in a particular location, you could also search for your keywords and phrases + a location, or carry out advanced searches and search for the area around you.
Twitter advanced search example.
Imagine you are the owner of a pet shop. It’s a physical shop based in Burntwood, so you could search for keywords and phrases + Burntwood, and search for updates / tweets etc from people in the Burntwood area, as shown in the image above.
Most social networks have advanced search functions which allow you to search during specific, or rough, time periods, and near specific locations, which makes it easier for you to carry out your research.
Find out who your influencers are
Another useful way of gauging which social media networks are the best for your business is to look at influencers in your sector.
Identify important people in your network, such as:
- Popular bloggers and thought-leaders
- Your competitors
By identifying those people, you can find out what kind of social networks they use. Be sure to evaluate their social media presence to find out which social networks give them the highest rate of engagement. That can help you identify which social networks are a priority and are the most important.
Evaluate your competitors
We mentioned your competitors in the last point, but they’re really worth their own section.
You and your competitors are fighting for the same audience, so you can use their social media efforts so far to find out what works well with your target audience.
- Look at what social networks they’re using
- Identify how they’re using social media – are they posting dry, boring updates, or are they posting interesting things?
- What kind of engagement are they getting? Are people replying to them, liking, or sharing their content?
As well as helping you find out which social networks your audience you, doing this will help you understand what kind of content your audience respond well to.
The best, and most fool proof way of finding out what social network your audience like to use is to ask them.
If you’ve got a physical store, office, or place your audience visit, ask them when they’re purchasing and explain that you’re setting up a social media presence.
This is a good way of finding out more about your audience, and it gives people the impression that you care about our audience.
Once your research is done, you should have a list of social networks your audience are using. Depending on the length of your list, and the time and resources available in your business, you may need to look at shortening that list.
If you are a business that hasn’t got the resources to manage a presence on all of the networks on your list, you need to prioritise.
It might tempting to start a presence on each social network and hope you can manage everything. It’s easier to start off small, and scale up as you gain more resources or feel you can handle managing another social network.
Don’t underestimate the amount of time it may take you to manage a social media presence.
It isn’t a case of spending 10 minutes a day sending tweets. You need to respond to your audience, and come up with interesting content. Depending on exactly what content you are making, you may have to spend a few hours managing social media in one day.
The size of your business may also impact how much time you need to dedicate to social media. If your business has a lot of customers and a large social media following, you may need one or two people whose job it is to handle social media, especially if your audience use social media as a customer service method.
If you need to shorten the list, consider:
- Which social networks are more popular with your audience
- How much time will managing each social network take
Before you start setting up social media profiles, find out how to create a social media strategy to make sure you get the best out of your time spent on social media.