When you’re dealing with what goes on in the virtual world, all things are not created equal and just because one type of social media platform works for your neighbour’s business does not necessarily mean that it will work for yours. I’ve had clients run into my office terrorized by the blinding statistics and numbers about these platforms and why they need to be using them to grow their business: Facebook is the equivalent of the third biggest country, Twitter has 175 million registered users, Foursquare has nearly 7 million. The facts are incredible. However, just because the statistics are there, doesn’t mean your customers are. It is crucial to remember that a generic approach should not, and cannot, be taken toward social media.
So how do we combat the panic that often follows these statistics? The answer is simple. Research, plan and strategize when, where, how and who your customers are interacting with. Let’s say you’re a small business that sells knitting supplies. You’ve done your research and you know that your demographic is women in their 40 and 50s. Using a tool like the Forrester’s Social Technographics Tool, you can determine when, where and how your clients are using the Internet. In this case, the tool shows that women in their 40s and 50s are using the Internet, predominately as spectators, sometimes as joiners and occasionally as critics. They are not the creators, meaning they are primarily using Facebook and online forums, but they rarely tweet and have probably never heard of Foursquare. So what should you concentrate on in terms of a social medium for getting your name out there? Create a Facebook Fan page and try to grow their presence through relevant and interesting content, follow online discussions on sites like Ravelry, create contests and giveaways would likely be the best approach. As well, using YouTube and Flick to highlight their products and create tutorials for others would likely be more effective that trying to reach the audience through twitter.
In this world of ever-changing social media, it is important to remember that a company’s success comes from recognizing what makes your clients different from one another. Truly understanding your target market, through analysis and evaluation, can help you to build the most effective Internet Marketing Strategy possible.