Let Your Purpose Guide Your Plan
Guest post by instructor Allison Durazzi
Social media is a fast-changing area of our digital lives, both personally and professionally.
Leaping into new channels can be fun and interesting -- those Snapchat filters #amirite? But before you jump into a new channel for your company's online presence, it's smart to first determine why you want to communicate, and then do a little research on who's using which apps.
Here's how to determine which social media channels are the best places for your limited time and resources.
Why Social Media?
Having a Facebook page just to have one is like building a website just because.
"Just because" may work for personal projects with little to no stakes. Your business, however, needs a reason for claiming digital real estate and asking users to participate.
Social media is a marketing tool, like a website or a brochure. There's an implied agreement that you will interact with people on social media.
Before you get started, ask yourself, "what is the goal of being on social media?" Understanding your goals will help you determine who you want to reach.
For example, are you trying to position your company as a best-place-to-work employer? Or do you want to expand into retail? These are two very different purposes with distinct audiences, so understanding your priorities is a key element in communicating with the right people.
Who Are You Talking With?
Along with why you're engaging in social media, you need to be clear on who you are talking to. This is your target audience.
Using the example goals above, your potential employees may be 20-something engineers just out of college. They have no kids, are single, and have a high household income. The people who shop for your product at the supermarket, however, may be 35-year old parents who never graduated from college and have a middle-income household.
Research shows that these two groups use social media differently. Your potential employees are more likely to be on Facebook, while your potential customers will be on Instagram. So knowing which group is your target audience will help you determine the right channel for your social media effort.
Developing a profile for your target audience is easy, but it will take some time. Start by listing what you already know about them. Answer as many of the following as possible for your target audience:
- Education level
- Are they primarily on mobile devices or desktops?
- Where do they get their news?
- What websites do they like to visit?
- Where do they live (city, suburb, rural)?
- What do they do for a living?
If you don't know all the above, that's okay. You can fill in the blanks with free online surveys using tools like Survey Monkey or Google Forms.
Another technique you can try is to search for people on social media. The success of this technique will vary depending on a person's privacy settings.
If you know a specific customer, look her up on Facebook. Or, you can find people who are fans of a competitor's Facebook page. Look for what Facebook pages she likes, her ratings and reviews of restaurants and retail stores, and maybe even other info like her college, employer, and interests, to complete your audience profile.
Once you've got a good picture of who your audience is and which channels to focus on, you can start putting together your social media plan.
One of our recent students was looking for help with a personal project about offbeat food and drink places in the Pacific Northwest. Some of her additional considerations were the time she could devote to the project (evenings and weekends) and the content she wanted to share (photos and videos). As she developed her social media plan, she eliminated plans to share on Facebook and Snapchat. Instead, she's focused her primary efforts on Instagram. Over the last year, engagement on her posts has doubled and she continues to build a community of enthusiasts for offbeat dining in the area.
If you'd like to learn more about how you can use social media to promote your personal or professional goals, please join us for our Introduction to Social Media Marketing class.