But, if you increase your fans or followers, viewers or readers, what does that really mean for your company, agency, organization or campaign? Did you achieve your overall goals? Did you get more followers to buy your products, attend events, donate to a cause, join your email lists or sign a petition?
The question is not, “Are you creating buzz?” The question is, “Are you creating buzz with the right audiences and are they taking the desired actions to reach your goals?”
Here are some key tactics to consider in using social media strategically:
1) Who Do You Currently Reach?
Start by analyzing the traffic you have. Google Analytics gives you insight into your web visitors what the referring site is, how much time they spend on your site, what sections they visit etc. With that knowledge you have a better understanding of your base, you can then build on it and seek out new audiences.
You also should try to get more information about your current audiences – where do they live, what is there income level, their gender, behavior, what events do they attend and what are their interests? Such information is not always easy to obtain (many people are wary of giving out personal information) but if you build key indicators into your plan you can try to elicit that information.
2) Who Do You Want to Reach ?
Your overall marketing and communications plan identifies target audiences. You need to identify your online target audiences also. For example, if you posted a YouTube video about your catchy new product or program and got 10,000 views or even 100,000 views that would be good – right? Not necessarily. In addition to the overall numbers you need to see who you reached and what actions they took. For example, if your goal was to get 2% click-throughs to your website did you reach that goal?
3) Where Do You Find Them?
Who is on Facebook? While Facebook is central to many social media campaigns you need to know who is using it and how they match your target audiences. The largest age group is 35-44 year olds and Facebook is more female than male. The second largest group is college age 18-24 year olds, but there is growing use by people over 50. On Facebook you can find out information about who “Likes” you such as gender, age, country, city and language. And you can be more proactive in reaching your target audiences. A new feature introduced late last year lets you target an updated post or photo by Gender, Relationship Status, Educational Status, Interests, Age, Location and Language.
Who is on Twitter? Twitter is predominately 18-34 year olds but also a mix of followers who do not have a college degree, those with a college degree and a graduate degree. Twitter also has a high percentage of African Americans. Your own Twitter followers may differ from these demographics, but you need to understand who uses the platform and determine how to use it to your advantage. For example, what subjects do your followers like, which ones do they retweet?
Who is on Pinterest? Pinterest was certainly one of the hottest platforms last year. It gets more than 4 million hits a day and more than 23 million uniques a month. Sounds like a great vehicle right? Maybe yes and maybe no. Before you jump on the Pinterest bandwagon you need to understand their audience. About 68% of Pinterest users are women and 50% of them have children. They especially like design, décor, fashion and recipes. So if your company or organization focuses on women, fashion or cooking this is the place for you. If you’re selling widgets this is not the place for you.
Who is on LinkedIn? LinkedIn is another very popular website. It claims more than 100 million members and a high percentage make over $75,000. But, like Pinterest, it attracts a certain type of audience with special interests such as professional networking and job searching. If you’re promoting a new cookbook Pinterest is the place for you. If you’re promoting a new book on interviewing for a job Linked In is the right place. If you are selling widgets you are not still not in the right place.
4) How Do You Track Your Progress?
You need to build in tracking mechanisms – whether it is number of sales from Facebook or Twitter platforms or click-throughs from an ad or YouTube video. You can start with an Interactivity Index. Look at all your overall, proactive online engagement activities and determine if you are increasing your engagement with key audiences, which platforms and actions are the most effective and why. You can also use one of many services that analyze online activities and audiences (including other issues such as monitoring online conversations about how your company or product is being discussed or positioned).
About a year ago I worked on a communications/ marketing/ outreach plan for a major fundraising walk/bike ride event for a large nonprofit organization. We purposely pushed social media to increase attendance and posted and tweeted and blogged about the preparations, the progress of the event and we updated information regularly. Facebook Fans and Twitter Followers increased dramatically. But the numbers weren’t the real story. We were successful because we reached and energized our target audiences – people in the New York area who supported our mission and wanted to attend or contribute to the event. We were successful because we achieved our social media goals.
If you determine who you want to attract online and what you want them to do, chances are you will be heading in the right direction in 2013.