A new report from Nielsen has revealed that 22.5% of Americans’ time spent online is using social media, making it the number one specific category. Unsurprisingly, most of that time (53.5 billion minutes) is spent with Facebook, which reaches 70% of active U.S. Internet users.
The numbers are pretty staggering, and they certainly show that social media won’t likely be going anywhere anytime soon. However, this information could be misconstrued as either 1.) proof to start using social media, if you haven’t already, to avoid failure or 2.) Facebook is the only place to be in the social space. Both are thoughts that have entered the conversation around social media marketing, and both can be risky propositions.
Consult Your Customer
Studies and statistics are always valuable, but ultimately, it comes down to your customer and how he or she uses (or doesn’t use) social media. Lacking a social media presence won’t kill a business if it’s customers aren’t there, and Facebook isn’t the social media silver bullet. With more and more brands using Facebook, it's getting more difficult to stand out. Perhaps, another platform makes more sense for you and your customers.
The missing piece is the bit of primary research to connect social media with your customers and identifythe intersections before you determine the approach.
Where, When and How
Your actions need to be determined by your audience’s actions. How do they use social media? Don’t pull the trigger without first taking aim because you’ll almost certainly miss the target and have nothing to show for your efforts.
You need to understand:
- Where: What platforms do your customers use? Is it compatible with your brand? You may find that your customers are ravenous YouTube addicts, which is great if you have the resources to produce video content. However, maybe they can’t get enough of Tumblr. In that case, it may be a better option to identify relevant Tumblr bloggers, reach out and establish a dialogue. The point is don’t just go with your gut. Understand where your customers spend their valuable online time and prioritize from there based on what they value and what you can execute well.
- When: What days and what time of day do your customers use social media? This will help you determine when to share your content to reach the maximum number of people. Perhaps, your customers are white collar businesspeople who can’t get enough of Twitter. Knowing that they probably leave work around 5:00, you might want to tweet at 4:50, as they're giving everything one last check before heading home.
- How: This is the most important factor because it’s a blending of your customer with where and when they interact. This will really determine what social media will mean for you. Your customers may prefer to be contacted by phone or perhaps by mail. However, more and more, they’ll prefer to reach your customer service department via a Facebook Page and be put into direct contact with someone using a direct message on Twitter. You need to determine how your customers want to interact with your brand. That will determine your approach.
Don’t Force It
Too often businesses try to force their social media prowess onto their customers only to see it fall flat. Forcing your customers to interact with you the way you want to interact will never create success. Understand your consumers, what they want and what they expect from you. All you need to do is put some feelers out there, find them and listen.