Facebook marketing is dead. How many articles have you read that start off like this? And that Twitter is useless for marketing? There’s an abundance of experts online laying down declarations like this every day. And I don’t doubt it – that for the person who’s writing that post, that Facebook marketing is no good, or that they’re not seeing any results from Twitter. But the thing is, that’s not necessarily true for everyone. What works for you in social media might not work for someone else, the best time for you to post to ensure you reach your maximum audience you not the same as it is for the supermarket down the street. The problem with declarations like this, or with generic descriptions of which platform is seeing the most engagement, is that it’s always a case-by-case proposition. You might know that 18-24 year-olds are active on Snapchat, but does that mean your audience is?
What you need is a way to assess what networks YOUR audience is active on. Only then can you determine which platforms you should be spending your time on and what time you should be posting for maximum engagement. General guides are good to get an understanding of how the different social channels work but you need to identify which is best suited to your audience. Here are just a few ways you can do that:
1. Social Crawlytics
Social Crawlytics is a totally free app that you can use to analyse the social shares of content from any URL. The process is pretty simple – you enter in the website you want to check – in this case, you’d enter your own webpage – then you start up the process. Crawlytics will check your page for social shares on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Delicious and StumbleUpon.
When it’s done, Crawlytics will provide a report which shows you the number of shares your content has logged on each network – along with a listing of which pages, have been most shared on these platforms. This shows you straight away where your most active fans are online – if you’re getting a heap of shares on Twitter but you’re not very active there, probably time to ramp up your tweets. The Crawlytics report will highlight where your social audience is at and what they’re sharing, quickly and easily.
But of course, those results will depend on your activity on the platform – if you’re a brand starting out in social, this report won’t tell you anything, as you’ve not posted any content to be shared. But you can look at what your competitors. But you can look at what your competitors are doing, it’s a great tool to see what they are doing well, or not so well, and see where the opportunities are. Social Crawlytics is a great starting point for understanding where your social media audience is. The insights you gain here can be huge.
2. Clarify Audience in Platform Ad Options
Every major social media platform now has some form of advertising option available. What these ad processes also provide is an insight into the size of your potential audience on each, by giving you an estimated ad reach figure. On Facebook, once you go into the ad options you’ll be able to specify the location and interests – including professions, hobbies, etc. – of your target audience. If you know who your target consumer is, enter in their details in the targeting drop-downs and there you go – an estimated audience for your services on Facebook:
Note: If you’re looking to reach product managers in the aviation industry, who are also into console games, in Melbourne, Australia, Facebook is probably not the place to focus.
LinkedIn has a similar search option that allows you to narrow down specific fields so you can research out to your target.
This will show you whether people in your target demographic are using the platform, which may help one in on where you need to focus in order to reach them.
LinkedIn’s University Finder app can also help with this – the app is designed to guide students towards the best higher education providers to help them on their path to their ideal career, but it also enables you to search through LinkedIn’s vast database of user information and can show you the estimated audience size of the group you’re looking to target.
To do this, use the filters to select the industry, location, place of work and job title. As you narrow your search the audience size at the end of each option will reduce in-line with your specifications, showing you the number of LinkedIn users that fit those qualifiers:
While these don’t necessarily indicate that people in these industries are highly active on the platform, the numbers will give you some idea of the size of your potential audience there, which will help clarify if it’s worth your time actively promoting your content on the network.
3. Check your competitors’ Twitter activity with Twitonomy
Follower counts are a good indicator, but they can be deceptive. What you really need is a more in-depth look at your competitors and what they’re activity on Twitter. Twitonomy enables you to analyse the Twitter activity of any user, showing how often they tweet, how much they reply, and how many of their tweets are re-tweeted or favourited.
This is important, because if their activity and response on the platform is low, they may not be getting good return for their efforts – or they may be doing things you could improve on. In doing an assessment of your potential audience on Twitter, a good cross-check process is to match their follower count with their interactivity – if they’re getting good engagement, it might be worth you also utilising Twitter and learning from what they’re doing right.
4. Analyse the Most Shared Industry Content in BuzzSumo
BuzzSumo is a content discovery tool that gives data 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 a list of the most shared articles about pizza in New York. You can also export the data from BuzzSumo into Excel, to work out the total shares from each social network – Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest and LinkedIn – and create a pie graph of those total shares. 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 some of the ways you can utilise social media data to determine the best platforms for your digital marketing efforts. Every social media community is different, every groups has it’s own specifics that need to be checked and cross-checked. The only true way to know and understand your online community is to get involved – outside of these checks, you might find there’s an active community on Reddit who would be responsive to your messaging and there might be Instagrammers who would fit your market. The best way to truly understand where you should focus is to understand the people you’re trying to reach, the discussions they’re having, the interests they share. It takes time to do the research, but that comprehension of your audience will shine through, not only in where you reach them, but in what you share and the conversations you conduct. The data is all there, the conversations are happening. All you have to do is find them and start listening.