It's interesting reading posts that proclaim Facebook to be dead as a marketing platform. I understand the sentiment - with organic reach in massive decline, many are putting their hands in the air, saying 'what are we supposed to do?' And it makes sense that many of these people would feel like turning away from Facebook, but when people ask is Facebook is dead - or, indeed, when people ask if any platform is any good from a marketing perspective - the real answer is that is depends on your audience. Is Facebook dead as a marketing platform? Not if that's where your audience is. If the people you need to reach are on Twitter, Snapchat, Pinterest - that's where you need to go, plain and simple. If that means you have to work with what you can on Facebook, that's how it is. So the key question, particularly if you're a brand starting out in social, isn't really 'which platforms work best?', it's 'which platforms are going to work best for your audience?' So how do you find out? How do you establish where your target customers are already at? Here's three ways to track down your potential fans on social platforms.
1. Social Crawlytics
Have you heard of Social Crawlytics? It's a pretty great, free, tool that you can use to analyse the social shares of content from any URL. Once you've put in the web address you want to look at, Social Crawlytics will analyse the content under that domain and give you stats on everything from the top authors for that site, the most shared posts/pages and (most importantly for our purposes) on which social networks that site's content has been shared.
You can use this to locate your audience by entering your company URL. This will give you info on exactly where your posts are being shared, which is a good indication of where your target audience is most active. You can use this info to better focus your strategy, ensuring your content is targeted to the platforms where you're already seeing engagement. But if you're already posting, you're probably also already aware of where your posts are being shared based on your website analytics. A more helpful way to use the Social Crawlytics data might be to track the content of your competitors.
It's the same process as entering your own URL - enter the website of your competitor, run the report, then take note of where they're seeing success. Even if you think you know your industry, it's worth running a Social Crawlytics audit to test your known variables - you might see that a competitor is getting increased engagement on Pinterest, a site you'd not have expected. Maybe they're getting more engagement from video content. There's a heap of data to go through, great insights that, at the least, are worth knowing as you go about planning and implementing your social media strategy.
2. Check Audience Stats in Platform Advertising Options
So analysing your competitors is great, but what if you don't know who your competitors are (unlikely) or you don't have any direct competitors? Finding an audience with no direct comparison adds another level of complexity, but there is a way to track down the platforms on which your target consumers are most present, amongst the main networks, at least.
Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn all have their own advertising options. You log-in, go through the set-up process and then you get to create and target your ad, with specific drill-down options to help you focus only on your intended audience. In order to give you an idea of potential reach, each platform provides a potential audience size, based on whichever targeting options you add-in - the more specific you get, the smaller the audience is, and the greater chance you'll reach them within your budget. What this also does is it shows you the size if your potential target audience on each platform.
So let's say you wanted to target hairdressers in and around London. You can go through the ad setup process, put in 'test' as the text for each section and then move onto ad creation and targeting. In choosing the relevant categories in the targeting options on each platform, the potential reach I get for London hairstylists is:
Based on this data, I'd be pretty foolish to ignore my Facebook presence in my efforts to reach hair care professionals in London. These numbers won't be 100% accurate, as they're intended to be indicative - and, as always, the more specific you can get in your targeting, the better - but the data will help guide you in where to look when assessing what platforms to invest more time into and focus on.
Note: On Twitter, small business advertisers are currently restricted to targeting users in the US, UK, Ireland, Canada, Israel, Spain, France and South Africa, so you can only get audience data for those regions.
3. Analyse the Most Shared Industry Content in BuzzSumo
BuzzSumo is a content discovery tool that gives you stats on social shares for any URL, similar to Social Crawlytics. What BuzzSumo enables you to do that Crawlytics doesn't is to search by topic. So you can enter 'pizza New York' and BuzzSumo will return you a list of the most shared articles about pizza in New York. What you can do from there is you can export the data from BuzzSumo into Excel, then you can total the shares from each social network - Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest and LinkedIn - and create a pie graph of those total shares. This shows the networks on which content on that specific topic has been most shared. Obviously, the more focussed you can get with your topic search, the better, and it's worth going through the list to ensure any off-topic keyword matches are removed (for example, in the NY Pizza search, there was an article about a designer making a 'pizza duvet set', which is clearly not relevant), but the final product will show where content on your topic of interest is being shared the most - which is also where your content is likely to find an audience.
These are just a few (free) ways in which you can conduct social content analysis to find your target audience. Obviously, you'd still need further testing and analysis on each platform to ensure you're achieving peak engagement and reaching the audience you need to, but using these processes will, at the least, give you some direction as you develop your social marketing plan.
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