As we approach the halfway point of 2013, the question is no longer whether businesses should use social media…it’s how should they use social media for business. Some businesses claim social media is a godsend and have incredible success while others complain that it is a waste of time, money and resources.
Both of them are right.
I’ve said many times that I don’t believe that every business should be on every social network. In fact, I usually recommend that most businesses only focus on 2-3 sites so they can spend the necessary time to do them well.
The trick is picking the right social networks to focus on.
Where are your customers spending their time online? 27% of total US Internet time is spent on social networking sites alone (Source), so saying that your customers aren’t using social media is a tough argument to make.
Understand Your Target Market
The obvious task before prioritizing the right social networks is assessing where your customers are online. You should already know and understand your target market, otherwise you are not ready for this step yet and should be reading another article.
A deadly mistake in any social media strategy is making the assumption that everyone is your target market. Even if your product or service could be used by anyone, it is in no way beneficial to try to target the entire general population.
Your target market is comprised of those who want, need and are willing to pay for what you offer.
What Social Networks Is Your Target Market Using?
If you want to have a successful social media strategy, it needs to focus on where your target market likes to spend time. Don’t concern yourself with trying to be everywhere, regardless of what anyone tells you.
Companies don’t just by ads on any TV station at any time or advertise in any magazine without any due diligence into readership. The same goes for social media!
You should concern yourself with being seen in areas that have a higher concentration of your ideal target market.
It seems like there are new social networks popping up everyday but there are really only six major ones that dominate the scene:
The data represented below is compiled from various recent reports on each of the social networks. This can be used as a guideline to determine which social networks are most likely to have your target market.
Top 3 Industries Using It: Tech, Finance, and Manufacturing
Growth: 2 new members join every second (over 225 million total)
Demographics: More than 80% are business decision makers
Most Compelling Stat: 4X more effective for B2B than Facebook and Twitter
Who Should Use It: B2B organizations, professionals, sales people and recruiters
Why You Should Care: Executives are present from all of the Fortune 500 companies as members and 85 of the Fortune 100 companies use its corporate hiring solutions
Growth: Over 1.1 billion monthly active users with monthly page views in the trillions and the average time spent on FB per user each month is over 7.5 hours
Demographics: 58% of users are female
Most Compelling Stat: 60% of consumers are willing to post about products or services on Facebook if they get a deal or discount
Who Should Use It: Any B2C organization
Why Should You Care: It’s Facebook
Growth: Over 1 million new accounts added every day (500 million total)
Demographics: 53% of users are female
Most Compelling Stat: 47% of customers said they are “somewhat likely” to purchase from a brand they follow or like
Who Should Use It: B2C and B2B organizations
Why You Should Care: 34% of marketers have generated leads using Twitter and 20% have closed deals
Growth: 3rd most visited social site in terms of traffic
Demographics: Women are five times as likely as men to use Pinterest
Most Compelling Stat: As of January 2012, Pinterest accounted for 3.6% of total referral traffic on the entire Internet while it was still an invite only site
Who Should Use It: Any business that sells products, especially products marketed to females (for example: wedding industry or home décor)
Why You Should Care: Pinterest has generated more referral traffic than Google+, YouTube and LinkedIn combined
Growth: 3rd most visited site on the Internet (according to Alexa) with over 6 billion hours of videos watched every month
Demographics: 44% of YouTube’s registered users are aged between 12 and 34
Most Compelling Stat: 500 years worth of YouTube video are watched on Facebook every day
Who Should Use It: Every business should be using YouTube
Why You Should Care: A study by Outbrain found video to be the most popular form of content online created by marketers
Growth: Over 500 million Google+ accounts with over 359 million active users
Demographics: 63% of users are male
Most Compelling Stat: Websites using the +1 button (Google’s equivalent of a Facebook “like”) generate 3.5x the Google+ visits than sites without the button
Who Should Use It: Popularity on Google+ improves your SEO (when used properly) so it’s advisable for most to have a Google+ account
Why You Should Care: Moving from position #3 to #1 in Google will get you a 300% increase in web traffic. As of January 2013, Google+ is the 2nd largest social network (we were surprised too).
Start Thinking About Where Your Customers Are
This is by no means intended to be the definitive resource for selecting the right social networks but more of a way to get you thinking a little differently about your approach.
It’s important to do your research and choose the social networks that are best suited for your business and target market. You don’t need to be everywhere, just focus on being where your target market is and creating quality content that provides value and engages your audience.