What does social media mean to you? By now, no matter how much of a luddite you are, you know that businesses that use social media are growing. So which social media platforms are you taking advantage of, and how is your strategy paying off?
Do you have a business page on Facebook, and if so, what are you posting? Have you tried a store? How about Twitter; how often do you tweet items of interest to customers or clients; how many of your followers interact with you?
Google + grabbed a lot of attention when it debuted, and millions of people signed up for the service, but are you of the ones who actually filled out a profile and use the site to engage with customers or clients? Then there’s LinkedIn. Is it helpful for a business owner, or is it best used by someone looking for a job?
Both YouTube and Vimeo let you for upload videos. Do you take advantage of them to attract clients or clients? And how about social media’s newest darling, Pinterest? Do you have a picture story to tell, and have you started using Pinterest to tell it?
If you’ve tried one of these sites, a couple of them, or all of them, and you’re still bemused and confused, take heart. Here’s a rundown of the audience of social media sites, and which businesses can best profit from using which sites.
Faceb00k has by far the most users, with more than 845 million on the site. The downside for many business owners, though, is that Facebook is mostly most used by younger people, and they use it to hang out. That’s why a number of major retailers, like Gap, J. C. Penney, and Nordstrom, have closed their shops on the site.
Twitter has 140 million active users who are posting daily; it skews more heavily toward women, and divides about equally to those under 30 and those 30 to 50 years old. If your target market falls into those parameters, that’s where you want to put your energy.
Twitter’s sweet spot is that sending out a tweet takes a minimum amount of time because you’re limited to short comments, the pithier the better. By checking out the hashtags that apply to your area of business you can find followers. The next step is converting them to customers or clients.
Google + is male dominated at this point–its 100 million users is made up of two times more men than women. Unsurprisingly, most of them are techies. Although anyone discounting Google’s power and reach would be foolish, currently it’s most valuable if you’re involved in the population it serves.
LinkedIn users are divided almost equally between men and women, the majority between the ages of 25 and 55. Its biggest benefit is allowing you to easily reach out and connect with other people who share your mindset and your business goals.
If you see the value of television as a promotional tool, now’s the time to upload videos to YouTube or Vimeo. As actual TV watching declines, these sites have grown. More than two-thirds of the populations tune in, men more heavily than women. The secret to gaining viewers (who will in time become customers or clients), is starting with a good story, one that benefits your audience. Create engagement, and don’t worry about production values.
Social media’s newest darling is Pinterest, a virtual pin board. Just think old-time cork bulletin board, the place where you thumb-tacked items that were important to you or ones that interested you, and you’ll understand its currency. Today, most of its users are young women; they pin items related to weddings, like apparel, accessories, and gift and home. If you manufacture or sell these products, Pinterest is the place for you.
The best thing about social media is that it’s a two-way conversation. In short order, you discover if what you’re doing benefits your business. If you’re using a platform that isn’t reaching your audience, or if your uploading information that doesn’t interest it, there are a lot of options you can explore, with new ones coming along daily.
If you want more ideas about bringing in business, I can help. I’ve been a retail reporter at Women’s Wear Daily and Home Furnishings News, a columnist at the Miami Herald and a correspondent at People.
I’ve also handled the marketing and public relations at major corporations and small businesses. Need a speaker or a consultant? Get in touch at Ask Laurel (one word) at laureltielis.com or connect with me at LinkedIn.
Copyright © 2012 Laurel Tielis
Photo: You Look Confused and You Don’t Know What to Do by Alex Bellink http://www.flickr.com/photos/zbellink/5076824636/lightbox/