What social media channels are your audience using?

It’s one thing to publish a clever social media post (such as this extremely clever post), but it’s quite another to have that content seen by your target audience. At the end of the day, posting on a social media platform that doesn’t host your audience is like performing spoken word poetry to an empty room, even with a large following. There are many social media options available, so how can you tell which platform is most appropriate for your business?

Some impetuous social media strategists like to jump on any bandwagon that trundles over the social media horizon. It’s a sound strategy, in theory – you sign up for a new platform and if it becomes huge, you were one of the frontrunners. If it fails, then no loss, right? Except you have lost, because you may have invested time and energy, not to mention the opportunity cost. That energy could have gone into making engaging content for more reliable channels.

Of course, before you can track where your audience is online, you need to know who they are. You should have a full customer profile set out and understand their thought process. This will ensure you’re monitoring the right place.

Remember that the audience you are trying to attract are unique. Just because your competitors are present in particular areas of social media, it doesn’t mean you should be. That’s not to say you should ignore your competitors, of course, but don’t simply copy them. You will find your own voice and identity.

Finding your audience on social media can be done with a technique called ‘social listening’. Social listening is used by several departments that can monitor social media discussion on certain subjects, products or brands. It’s often used to identify pain points among target audiences. If you listen into the major social media platforms, you can get a sense of how many people are discussing what your businesses offers and, better still, get a better idea of their expectations. There are software options that can help with this, and many of them free, such as TweetDeck and Hootsuite. In fact, social listening has several advantages brands and social media executives can use to increase engagement, but that’s another topic (goodness, aren’t we a bunch of teases?).

Social listening allows you to track conversations from your current and potential online audience. By establishing where the conversation is happening on the web, you can discover where your ‘community’ spends most of their time. It also allows you to join in that conversation to engage with those customers.

Perhaps most useful, however, is getting some web analytics software. At Dusted, we’re quite partial to Google Analytics but depending on your requirements, there are several alternatives you could use, such as Mixpanel, Heap, or Kissmetrics. One very helpful function of Google Analytics is the ability to track where your site visitors are coming from, be it organic searches, paid adverts or, crucially, social media posts (yours or otherwise). When you find out which social media platform is providing you with the most traffic, you can assume that this is where a majority of your audience hang out. You can also implement a strategy to attract audiences from other social media outlets but, again, that’s another subject (not to worry, it’s coming soon, don’t panic!).

Of course, that only works if you are already receiving regular visits to your website. If you’re brand new and looking for your audience, you might want to utilise tools like The Pew Research Centre to establish demographics of different social media platforms, and Facebook Ads Manager that can estimate the size of your audience based on geographic locations and subject areas. This data, combined with social listening data, should be enough to give you an idea of where to start.

Once you’ve set up your social media account, it’s essential that you keep analysing and critiquing them to maintain maximum engagement. Don’t be afraid to explore more platforms for your social media campaign, but make those decisions based on research and evidence, not fads and whims.