Social Clutter: Unraveling Social Media

By September 9, 2016Lead Generation, Social Media
social media sites are all shown with a like button which is blue

What social outlets are worth your time?

The buzz around social media marketing has died down a little bit, especially with the advent of native advertising gaining traction in recent months. Still, it’s a viable outlet for engagement and brand building, not to mention effective digital reputation management. Whether you own a brick-and-mortar shop serving a local audience or an online business that reaches customers all over the world, you’re probably using at least one social media outlet to market your business.

But with so many options, you may be struggling to justify where you spend your time and dollars. Do you focus on your Facebook page, set up a Pinterest account and start taking pictures on Instagram, or spend time on Twitter every hour of the day? The answer may lie in understanding who is using these channels most and how they are using them.

Facebook

Ask anyone what the first thing that comes to mind is when you say “social media” and they’ll probably mention Facebook. Launched in 2004 as a means for Harvard University students to connect with each other, today this online juggernaut has 1.19 billion members, representing almost three-quarters of Internet users worldwide.

What started as a site where people shared cute photos of their pets and updates about what they ate for lunch has become a worldwide driver of sales for businesses across all industries. In short, just about everyone is using Facebook for something. The most actively growing user base though? Seniors. That’s right, the 60+ crowd grew more as a percentage in 2013 than all other groups combined. If you’re products lend themselves to boomers or target an older demographic, this medium is worth your time to focus on.

Here’s another nugget…when someone “likes” a brand on Facebook, they are 79 percent more likely to make a purchase, and 76 percent more likely to recommend the brand to their friends. In fact, 60 percent of all social referrals to ecommerce sites come from Facebook. If you trust their own reports, Facebook claims that on average companies that advertise with them see a 152 percent return on investment. That’s hard to ignore.

One thing to consider, though…don’t expect great engagement statistics from this outlet. When you post, it’s only seen by an average of 20 percent of the company’s followers at first. The more that those followers engage with the posts through liking, sharing and commenting on the post, the greater the reach of the subsequent posts. Low engagement by the “test” initial group can tank how many people actually see the message though. This is really problematic due to “fake likes”.  This video below really sheds some good light on the issue:

In-content native ads are probably the best use of Facebook regardless, but if you’re marketing to an older crowd, this is your sweet spot.

Google+

Launched in 2011, Google+ was designed to be Google’s answer to Facebook. While the network now boasts 300 million active members, it never really reached the social network prominence that it’s creators hoped for. That doesn’t mean that G+ is “dead,” though, or that businesses can afford to ignore it. Google+ still offers significant value in terms of enhancing search rankings and creating, particularly when Authorship is part of the equation. By linking your content to your Google+ profile using the Authorship tag, it gives prominence to your content when someone in your circles or near your physical location is searching on terms you’ve written about. It also used to allow your headshot and bio to be shown alongside your content in Google search results, but that worked a little too well. It increased CTR’s so much that paid ads began to suffer. So, as you can imagine, that got trashed.

There’s not a dominant demographic group using G+, but it naturally lends itself to businesses that focus on technology, data and all things online. This is a fantastic way to promote your expertise and showcase your best content. If your business lends itself to a more tech-savvy or ‘net based crowd, and you need to show that you (and your biz) has some real chops, this outlet is a good investment. *Note* If you care about search results for specific keywords, this is something worth investing in regardless if you have a tech crowd and/or great content. Smart money is on Google finding a way to increase the value of top users somehow, someway, in the future.

Pinterest

If you want to reach women, then Pinterest is where you need to be. If you’r products are very visual, Pinterest is where you want to be. According to research released in June 2014, almost 80 percent of Pinterest’s 70 million users are female — and 20 percent of all female American internet users have a Pinterest account. There you have it.

It isn’t just babies, weddings and recipes either. Home and garden, fitness, travel, and humor related sites are all alive and well on Pinterest, to name a few. Retail giant Target has implemented in-store Pinterest displays showcasing individual pieces that were presented as “sets” or “collections” on this network. Looking is easier than reading, after all.

Here’s another nugget…Pinterest users spend more than their contemporaries who don’t use this network. According to research published in Business Insider, Pinterest users spend an average of $170 per interest-induced shopping session, as opposed to $95 for Facebook and $70 for Twitter. So if you target high-spending female users, figure out a way to make Pinterest a part of your repertoire.

LinkedIn

LinkedIn launched in 2003 as a networking site for professionals, and over the last decade has largely stayed true to that goal. It’s almost tough to consider this a social media network as opposed to a b2b networking platform. Regardless, LinkedIn is the third-fastest-growing social networking site (after Instagram and Pinterest). They’ve been working on improving their on-network PPC program offerings, although there’s still some room for improvement.

LinkedIn has more than 161 million members worldwide. While a common perception is that LinkedIn is little more than a glorified job board, it can actually be a powerful tool for B2B and B2C sales. Not surprisingly, the most avid users of this resource are recruiters, staffing firms and consulting groups. Here’s an interesting fact also…while other networks are valuable for social sharing content updates , LinkedIn is better at driving traffic directly to your businesses home page. In fact, LinkedIn drives almost four times more traffic to home pages than Facebook or Twitter. More than 65% active users are male also.

LinkedIn users turn to the site to find industry insights and information they can use in their careers (or to build their own businesses), updates about companies and employees and information about products and services. They aren’t looking here for the lifestyle or behind-the-scenes information, but instead choose to see actionable insights. When using LinkedIn, think professional and useful — and lose the fluff. If you’re looking for males, or if your business plays a role in recruiting, staffing or B2B support services, this is a must-use platform.

Instagram

Just a few short years ago, Instagram was little more than a trendy app for iOS devices. Users could snap photos with their phones, do some easy edits — usually a filter that gave the photo a “vintage” appearance — and then share it with their followers on the app or on a linked Facebook or Twitter account. Today, Instagram is one of the most popular and fastest growing social networks, with more than 200 million active users each month, nearly 10 million of whom use it every day.

The user profile skews young and female: 68 percent of Instagram’s users are women, and 37 percent of young adults age 18-29 use the site, while 18 percent of adults age 30 to 49 are regular users. If you’re trying to reach those pesky 20-somethings, especially females, this is your happy place. *Hint* Pinterest and Instagram make for good partners, in case you don’t see the connection right off the bat.

The vast majority of Instagram accounts are personal accounts, but brands are beginning to see the benefits as well. Engagement on Instagram is 1.5 times higher than on Facebook, with users adding and liking content at a much higher rate than any other site. It’s not surprising that fashion and beauty brands are seeing the highest levels of engagement on Instagram as they lend themselves well to the visual nature of the network. Industries like travel, automotive, food and retail are growing in popularity as well however.

Twitter

Twitter was born in July of 2006. Today, it’s one of the 10 most visited sites on the web. More than 1.6 billion search queries are handled on Twitter each day. It’s a beast. It’s also probably the hardest network to figure out, in terms of return on time and investment. It’s a fantastic resource for news, both tracking and reporting. It’s easy to monitor your competitors too. However, this massively-trafficked site doesn’t have a dominant user group, and it doesn’t lend itself to engagement either. So who should spend valuable time and resources here? Anyone whose site thrives on news, that’s who. Local news, celebrity news, industry-specific news…even news about news.

Twitter is working on it’s lead generation card offerings, letting users send their contact information directly to interested vendors. It’s still getting some kinks ironed out, but it soon might become another valuable native advertising asset.

In conclusion…

The bottom line is that there is no one “perfect” social media solution or platform for every business. A truly effective social marketing plan involves integrating different platforms into a cohesive whole that will engage, inspire and spur your customers to act. Good digital marketing companies know that you don’t have to be everywhere, but you should be somewhere. There’s still value in social media as a tactic. Just make sure the outlet’s users match your target as close as possible.

Still not sure how social media can be a part of your lead generation strategy? Drop us a line or give us a call today. We’ll help you get things ironed out!

Author Dan Foley

Dan is a content marketing and social media marketing expert with more than 5 years of experience working with B2B and B2C brands all across the United States. His clients include dentists, real estate agents, auto dealers and online retailers.

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