Tuesday, April 10, 2012

How to Choose the Right Social Network

social networking

We all know by now how important it is for a business or brand to engage with its audience through social media sites like Twitter, Facebook and Google+. Social media is an easy, affordable way to build a rapport with your target market and to establish a meaningful, two-way conversation with them. But before haphazardly joining the latest, trendiest social media sites, you need to make sure that the people you are trying to reach will be there. Otherwise, there really is no point in wasting your time and resources building up profiles on sites that no one uses. So, before you start setting up those profiles, make sure you are where you need to be. Following are a few easy ways to figure out which social media sites are right for you.

Real World Interactions

If you operate a brick-and-mortar business—that is, one that has a physical location offline—you should prominently advertise your social media accounts. You could put up a large banner in a heavy trafficked area of your store, letting your customers know where they can find you online. You should also train your staff to start informal conversations about social media with your customers, informing them about any discounts/special offers they can find on your social media profiles. This is also a good opportunity to ask them which sites they frequent and which ones they think will be a good fit for your business. If your staff keeps detailed notes on any feedback they got, you will start to see a clearer picture of which sites, besides the ubiquitous Facebook, your customers frequent.


The easiest thing to do when you need answers is to simply ask. So, if you want to know where your customers go online, creating a short survey is an extremely simple and effective way to find out the information you seek. Keep it short and sweet if you want anyone to actually respond. Just ask your customers what social networks they actively use and which ones they would suggest a business like yours participates in. You can also solicit customer feedback through your print or online newsletter, by including an insert in the monthly bills you send out or by adding a few questions to your online contact form. If you present your questions honestly and sincerely, explaining that you are still learning how to navigate the social media world and could really use their input, you will greatly increase your response rate.

Online Sleuthing

Checking your website analytics is the most accurate way to find out which social media sites your audience is using. By looking at the “Referring Sites” area of your analytics program, you will see which social networks are sending you the most traffic. This is very useful, for if you see that the lion’s share of your traffic is coming from a site that you aren’t using, then you will have found out where your audience is and where you should be. Another online method for determining where your target market spends its time is through your customer mailing list. Most social media sites, including Facebook and Twitter, have a “Find Friends” tool wherein you put in your contacts’ email addresses to see if they are using the site. While it may seem a bit creepy or stalkerish to track your customers this way, it’s purely for research so you can learn which social media sites are the most popular among your existing clientele.

As you can see, it needn’t be complicated or expensive to find out where your customers and prospects spend their time online. Once you’ve determined which sites are the most popular among your demographic, then you will be able to fully harness the power of social media.

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