Social Media can be overwhelming. There was a time when reaching out to your customers digitally, only meant sending out bulk e-mailers of your product or services. As the social media sphere has evolved, reaching out to customers digitally has emerged from being mere bombardment of products and features, to appealing to consumers aesthetically and engaging with them innovatively. An important aspect of getting this engagement right is understanding the demographics and metrics for these social media platforms.
Consider this – Facebook alone has about 1.11 million monthly active users. That is a sea of probable consumers out there, but how many of them do you really want to reach out to? How do you decide the content? What marketing strategies should you undertake? Its not just about targeting one person from a demographic pattern; its about targeting his entire network of friends, family and colleagues, 75% of who have buying and liking patterns similar to his.
Devise platform-specific strategies
I have seen numerous brands out there who run a simple contest to engage their consumers, and keep it static across all platforms. Let me make it clear here – an overlap may work somewhere – say Instagram and Pinterest, or Facebook and Twitter, but it is not always a good idea. A quiz contest may sound like a great idea on Twitter – since the platform is ideal for back and forth conversations between the brand and the consumer. More often than not, the same format spells disaster on Facebook. It is hard to keep track of incoming replies and notifications, it is even harder to filter out genuine entries. And mind you, this is just the tip of the iceberg. The negativity of such aimless strategies often spill over into the brand’s online reputation.
Age is more than just a number
Just to analyze the above example, the cross-platform absurdity apart, Twitter seems ideal for a quiz contest because most of its user base belongs to the age group of 18-30, who wouldn’t mind investing their time and energy in a contest to win some free goodies. Unlike Twitter, Facebook’s user base has a much more versatile demographic. For every third 18 year old Facebook user from Manhattan, his 45 year old uncle from Kansas too has signed up on the world’s largest social networking sites. A brand’s marketing strategy on Facebook needs to, and let me emphasize this more, NEEDS TO, take this into account. This is not to indicate that Twitter may not have users outside a specific demographic, but as discussed above, Twitter’s format of back and forth in itself is fertile territory for certain marketing strategies that may or may not work elsewhere. Even on a particular social media platform, the need is to dissect audiences to mark out your territory and target audience. There’s no point engaging with some 19 year old grad student if your primary focus is selling anti-wrinkle cream. Before embarking on a strategy to take your brand digital, make a checklist and make sure you have the answers to a few questions. What is your brand’s target audience? What are you selling? Who does it appeal to? What income section will it appeal to?
Narrowing it down to niche networks
Apart from age, another important factor that needs to be taken into account is academic and educational background. To sell a soap, everybody is your audience; to sell an encyclopedia, you’ll have to be picky. Again, more often than not, a strong academic background makes a consumer an automatic target for high end, high quality, expensive products. This is where narrowing your perspective a little will come handy. Capture a consumer on his turf. You want to sell a medical equipment? Try a doctors-only social network. The conversion rate of pitching to selling will be extremely high in such cases.
Analyze gender-specific interest patterns
The probability that two men will engage in a Twitter conversation regarding cosmetics is rare, nearly impossible. The probability of two women discussing Maybelline’s line of products is almost as high as two guys discussing last night’s game between Liverpool and Arsenal. Want to sell sports merchandise? Want to sell cosmetics? There you have your target audience. I am not ruling out that a girl may not buy an Arsenal jersey, but the conversion rate of targeting male users over female users in this case is very high. Repeated surveys have proved that the number of female Facebook users has trumped the number of female Twitter users. This again needs to be considered while promoting certain products and/or services.
Catch the eye. Capture the attention
Similarly, certain things such as food or jewellery appeal more visually. This is where Pinterest, Instagram, Vine, etc. play an important role. A case study here is that of Starbucks. Starbucks took to Instagram very early, posting user-sent Starbucks coffee pics from around the world. The visual engagement that a foamy cappuccino manages, cannot be matched by mere contests and user polls. Decide if your product or brand has that visual appeal. If it does, boast it. Mind you, visual appeal usually cuts across age, gender, and strata.
Reach. React. Respond.
It is pretty hard to predict what the social media scene would be, say five years from now. Social media demographics keep changing all the time. Considered the youth’s playground once upon a time, social media platforms are increasingly getting users in the 35 to 50 age group, and guess what – they are using it regularly too.
Brands need to realize (many eventually have) that social media is not just an advertising medium. It is a platform to innovate and engage. Social media gives you the exposure, like no other medium has before. What brands can take home from most social media demographic trends is that there are consumers for everything.Some demographic patterns weaker than the other, but there is someone out there, from some corner of the world, who wants to buy what you are selling. All you need to do is find that someone. Just remember the three R’s – Reach. React. Respond.
Shreyas is a Digital Marketing Executive with HowSociable.Com . When not eating or sleeping, he enjoys analyzing and writing about latest social media trends and patterns.