In the complicated world of social media marketing, knowing which platforms attract which sectors of the population is critical to success.
Katie Lebel, assistant professor in marketing management at Ryerson University’s Ted Rogers School of Business Management, says the choice of social media channels depends on each company or organization and its target market.
Once you have put in the time and research to know who your target audience is, you have to figure out where to find them.
Doing your homework will ensure you select the social media platforms where your audiences are and will also reduce the risk of getting lost in the topsy-turvy world of social media marketing.
A report by research firm eMarketer offers details on the social media platforms regularly used by internet users in Canada, broken down by age, gender and geographic location. It notes, for example, that more females use Facebook than males and that Quebec has the highest percentage of Facebook users in the country.
The chart is just one data point you can use to help choose your social media channels.
An article by Sprout Social – Social Media Demographics to Inform a Better Segmentation Strategy – also underscores the importance of knowing your audience and segmentation strategy: “In the social media industry, your audience demographics can change in what seems like overnight. The challenge of reaching new audiences has never been harder but grasping up-to-date data on social media demographics helps.”
“For some of the larger companies that are looking at very large and sometimes varied markets, you can be on all of the social media channels,” says Lebel. For other companies with more specific targets, “you’re probably going to want to have a better idea of where your audiences are.”
Lebel says companies need to have an idea of what their audience looks like and try to do at least one social media platform really well.
“Especially when you’re talking smaller organizations, and I’ve talked to non-profits, and they get overwhelmed. ‘Oh God, we don’t have the resources to do Facebook really well and Instagram and Snapchat and all of these things.’”
For such organizations, she recommends picking the one social medium where you’re going to get the most bang for your buck. “Be aware of where the majority of your audience is,” rather than having a lower quality presence on multiple platforms.
Other factors to consider when assessing which platforms to go with include the product, service or idea your company is offering. It’s also important to know who your competitors are and what they’re doing on social because your audience will be choosing between you and them.
“Sometimes you can see what your competitors are doing as a way to narrow it down,” says Lebel. “You can look for best practices in similar industries.”
One thing to watch for, warns Lebel, is that social media platforms change rapidly. One week, Facebook isn’t cool and then it’s cool again. Next week, it might change. Such rapid shifts can make it difficult to keep track of demographics and social media use.
“Unfortunately, it’s something you have to be adaptable to,” she says.
Layering in listening technology to your decision making process is another great way to ensure you are building meaningful relationships with the right people.
“Social listening and intelligence tools can help you get a better idea of not only what your audience looks like, but also the kind of content that they’re finding engaging,” says Lebel.
Marketers can track a campaign and find out which posts were exceptionally engaging. You learn what works and what doesn’t.
“I think the social listening and social intelligence tools are probably going to be the way of the future because they’re allowing organizations to be a lot more strategic with their content.”
Lebel says social media marketing has been a wild west, where people have used their creativity to try out different things.
“It’s gotten to the point now where you’ve got to be strategic. And some of these different software programs and tools are helping people to do just that.”