Your target demographic is specific to your business and will depend on the goods and services that you offer. In order to understand your audience, you must determine which social media sites your existing and potential clients use – where are they online?
Research organizations publish valuable studies that can help you reach your audience. A late 2012 survey by the Pew Research Center, for example, entitled The Demographics of Social Media Users – 2012, shows that 67% of Internet users use Facebook and that it is especially appealing to women and young adults aged 18 to 29. The study also found that 15% of Internet users use Pinterest, and this social media platform is especially appealing to white adult women under age 50 and those with some college education.
Pew research shows other statistics, such as the percentage of Internet users that earn at least $50,000 that are on LinkedIn (24%) compared with the percent of users who earn less than $30,000 (7%), and the number of Internet users that are at least 50 years old who are using Facebook (57%). These statistics can help small businesses figure where their social media efforts are best served. Because social media is a dynamic environment, it is helpful to review current studies when determining where to focus your attention.
IDENTIFY YOUR TARGET AUDIENCE
Before you can seek out your audience, you must identify them. Are your typical customers’ male or female? Are they young or old? How much money do they make? What are some of their likes and dislikes? Are they local to you, or do they live all over the world? Are they a certain ethnicity, or do they come from a wide range of ethnic backgrounds?
To figure out where your particular target demographic resides online, do a bit of investigating. There have been countless studies and articles published on the demographics of social media users, and most are easily unearthed through a quick Google search. The publications of organizations such as PewResearch and Business Insider are good places to start.
Another tactic you might take is to look to your direct competitors—which social media platforms do they favor? Odds are, if they’ve found success on certain platforms, you will, too.
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SURVEY YOUR CUSTOMERS
For the purposes of optimizing your social media campaigns, wisely spending your ad dollars and targeting guest blogging opportunities, you need to know where your audience hangs out online. As part of your survey, ask your current customers the following questions:
- What social media sites do you regularly use?
- What websites do you visit for information on _______ (for example, remodeling ideas, pricing strategies or whatever is appropriate for your business)?
- Do you listen to podcasts? If so, which ones?
- Do you regularly read blogs? If so, which ones?
- What people do you follow or pay attention to online?
You can also use free tools like SurveyMonkey or Google Forms to collect your answers. In this video, Steve Dotto walks you through how to create your own forms with Google Forms.
Video URL: https://youtu.be/wwf72lwPLVY
Google Forms is a great way to collect feedback on live events, for example, because it graphically displays your audience’s feedback. Go to your form results and select Form > Show Summary of Responses from the drop-down menu.
Also identify your key influencers. These could be people that stand out within your communities, people that others listen to, people that create action (not necessarily those people with thousands of Twitter followers). They could be peers, journalists, thought-leaders or other stakeholders. People with game-changing opinion and ideas. People who challenge the norm. Or simply people that talk sense.
The types of audiences you could be looking for include:
- Current clients or customers
- Potential clients or customers
- Associates of current/potential clients or customers
- Journalists and editors
- Affiliate businesses
If you don’t know who these people are, make the most of the various free monitoring tools to track who is talking about the keywords associated with your business: such as Google Analytics, Social Mention, Delicious and Board Reader. This should highlight who has a voice in these subject areas.
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CONNECT WITH YOUR CUSTOMERS
Here are where some of the biggest opportunities lie on the major networks:
- Facebook’s users skew younger, and that means brands that advertise luxury goods and services are still finding more success advertising in magazines than on social media. Other types of brands — such as fast-moving consumer goods — do perform well on Facebook. And Facebook users show high ad engagement overall, accounting for half of all retargeted clicks on the Web.
- People tend to use Twitter for news consumption. In 2012, 83% of users reported seeing news on Twitter. Additionally, a bulk of users are located in urban areas. For brands, the best time to post on Twitter is Monday through Thursday between 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. The worst time is after 3 p.m. on a Friday.
- LinkedIn has the advantage of being the place for white-collar professionals to network, meaning its population is highly desirable since it is a high-income and highly educated user base. The best time to post on LinkedIn is Tuesday through Thursday, when professionals are either beginning or finishing their workday.
- Pinterest is riding the wave of mobile. It’s really the breakout tablet-first social network. Pinterest users already account for 48.2% of all social media sharing on iPads. They’re primarily sharing food and drink-related content and family and parenting-related items. Pinterest is poised to become one of the big four top social networks.
- Over 90% of people who use Instagram are under the age of 35, which makes it an attractive platform for the many apparel, entertainment, and media brands focused on the 18- to 34-year-old age bracket.
- Tumblr is strong with teens and young adults interested in self-expression. What’s more, the teens who do use Tumblr, use it a lot — 61% of 13- to 18-year-olds said they used the service several hours a week or more, according to a study conducted by Y Combinator Partner Gerry Tan.
You can also perform your own research to find out if your target market is active on a particular social media platform. Here are 2 strategies you can do immediately:
- Check out the activity on your competitor’s social media profile pages. If you notice that people are commenting, sharing, and engaging with content on a particular social media platform that your competitor is using, then that would be a good indicator that your target audience is on that same platform.
- Do a keyword search on each of the social media platforms. Search for the top keywords related to your business and the keywords that your target audience would most likely us to find the products or services you offer.