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If you’re just starting your social media marketing efforts, you might be tempted to jump in and create profiles on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, LinkedIn, and whatever else the cool kids are using.
The fact is, your customers probably only frequent one or two of these social media channels. It’s up to you to determine which ones they prefer and focus your marketing efforts there.
So… how do you know which platforms your audience uses?
Know your audience
You’ve probably already put energy into identifying your target audience and its demographics, so this should be fairly easy.
If not, take the time to work through that initial step now. It will help in every aspect of your marketing. You can find out the average age, gender and location of your website visitors through your analytics dashboard, which is a great place to start.
If you interact with customers one-on-one, you can get an even better sense of who they are. If you have a brick-and-mortar store, start taking notes about the types of people who make a purchase from you most frequently.
It might be 35-year-old (based on your best guess) mothers who drive luxury SUVs. Or high school kids of both genders. Once you begin to really pay attention, you should start to see patterns in who actually makes a purchase from you. This will, in turn, help with your social media strategy.
To make sure you really identify the best sites to connect with your customers, go ahead and ask them! You can send a survey via email asking which social media sites your key customers use and what types of content they like to receive on each one.
You can also ask customers in-store. Just add a field in your point-of-sale system where your cashiers can quickly enter the social channels customers report using, then aggregate that data after a few weeks to set the direction for your strategy.
Understand which social sites attract your audience
Each social media channel appeals to a slightly different demographic. For example, if you’re trying to reach millennial women, your best bet is Instagram. But if you want to connect with a business-minded audience, LinkedIn is a better fit.
Depending on the type of content you want to share, different sites will provide different results. Twitter is great for short announcements or headlines with a link to your blog content. But if your marketing will be image-heavy, Instagram or Pinterest are better suited. Facebook is a good in-between because it allows you to write as much content as you want to, while including an image or video.
Pick two platforms and test them
Rather than watering down your efforts across too many social channels, pick two that seem the best to reach your audience based on the research you’ve conducted in the steps above. You can always add more later if you think it will enhance your ability to connect.
Drive followers by promoting your social channels via email marketing and through your website. Be sure to engage with your customers and follow them back to foster continued conversations. Start sharing relevant content on each channel and pay attention to which types of content get more traction than others.
You may find that fun, candid photos of consumers interacting with your products on Instagram get shares and likes, but pins on Pinterest with your products fall flat. Or perhaps the snippet of blog content on Facebook gets shared frequently, though your promotions on Twitter don’t. This is great to learn, because it helps you tweak your content and social strategy to work better together.
Also look at your website analytics to see which social sites are driving the most traffic. These are the ones you want to put more effort into.
You get what you put in
Before you write off any social media channel you try out because you’re not getting the results you want, consider the amount of effort you’ve put in. It will take time—years even—to build a huge audience on a social media channel (though social media ads can speed that process up), and what you share will determine how much people want to connect with you on a given channel.
Make sure you diversify the content and offers you present on each social channel. If you post identical content on Facebook, your blog, and your email marketing efforts, you give customers no reason to connect with you on each. But if you provide exclusive content and offers on social media, while sharing others through your newsletter, suddenly there’s value in connecting on each channel.
Test out different types of offers. You may find that the buy-one-get-one-free campaigns always fare well, but not the 10 percent off coupon. You can even track online sales to the social media channel, which can provide you with a return on investment to tie to your social media marketing efforts.
If you start out by selecting the social channels that your audience gravitates toward and then publish relevant and enticing content, your social media marketing will help you grow your business quickly.