Your Guide to Social Media Enlightenment – From Trending Topics to Innovative Startups
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How to Figure Out If Your Prospects Are Using Social Media

Courtesy of Shanna Mallon

Let’s face it, today, in the world of marketing, social media is where it’s at. Companies of all sizes and across all industries are jumping into the rapidly expanding realm of Facebook and Twitter and Pinterest faster than you can count, hoping to grab some of the influence and traffic that these sites can offer—but what about you? Does getting involved with social media make sense for your brand?

It doesn’t matter if you’re an auto manufacturer or a fashion company, you’ve got to admit there’s not much point in creating a vibrant social media presence if your prospects won’t see it. So before you spend the time and resources to build a social campaign, you need to know if it’s worthwhile. Do your clients use social networks? And if so, which ones?

To help answer those questions, here are a few tips for evaluating the audience potential of social sites:

1. Look at Recent Research.

Recent research shows that, generally speaking, active Internet users are using social media—spending anywhere for 16% to 25% of their online time focused on social outlets—and it’s a trend that keeps moving upward both in volume and percentage of time. What this means for your brand, whatever your product or service specialty is, is something you already know: social media is a powerful force worth considering.

2. Look at the Demographics.

In terms of gender, age, education and income, there’s plenty of demographic info available online about the different social networks—just check out Mashable’s useful infographic to see details. When you see key info about how Google+ is 71% male users and Pinterest is 82% female, that’s useful for helping target your marketing.

Other interesting stats: Twitter users average close to 12 minutes per visit on the site; Google+ users are most commonly engineers; and top interests on Pinterest are crafts, gifts, fashion and design. What does this mean for you? Both research and demographics point to the same fact: most people are using social media.

3. Ask Your Prospects.

OK, I know what you’re thinking. You don’t want to know if people are on social media; you want to know if your prospects are on social media. So why not ask them directly? In addition to the general stats and research that are available about social media users, why not get to know your target audience more specifically through surveys, polls and other related tools, which can be very helpful for learning about your prospects.

4. Do Your Market Research.

In addition to polls and surveys, do some research on your target audience. This can be formally through a marketing company or informally through your own casual assessment.

Are other companies in your field on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn? Are your competitors using social media? And if they are, how are they using the channels? Are people following them? This in itself can help clue you in on your audience.

You may follow the example of competitors, or you may set a new trend in your field, all from observing interest in your industry already happening online.

5. Monitor Changes.

Sign up for Google Alerts with terms related to your industry and stay up-to-date on new information happening online. This is a great way to see what your competitors are up to and what they’re trying, as well as to find out what your prospects might be looking for.

So what about your company? Based on these five tips, could a social media presence benefit your brand?

Shanna Mallon is a writer for Straight North, one of the leading Internet marketing firms Chicago companies trust with their website, SEO and branding needs. She writes for clients in diverse B2B markets, such as specialists in donation processing for nonprofits. Follow @StraightNorth on Twitter.


4 Responses to this post.

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  3. Ian Guiver's Gravatar

    Posted by Ian Guiver on 02.07.12 at 5:00 am

    Thanks for an interesting post. Have you carried out, or come across anyone else carrying out research into specific B2B markets?

  4. Samuel's Gravatar

    Posted by Samuel on 02.07.12 at 5:00 am

    Research is key to see if your competitors are using social media.

    In this day and age, they are sure doing that. The trend is rising and your article effectively will help anyone scope out the competition.
    Samuel recently posted: Top WordPress Plugins To Reach The Top!My Profile

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