Business Networking

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Social media can be a valuable tool for businesses looking to promote their products, services, or brands. With the ability to maximize your brand reach and engage customers, it’s easy to see why businesses are using social media to achieve their business goals. However, when it comes to deciding which networks they should be on, there are many options to choose from.

A common mistake made by many businesses is thinking that they have to promote themselves on every social media network. They do this in hopes of attracting more customers, growing their business, and increasing their sales. In reality, this approach often leads to dormant accounts, underdeveloped content, and disengaged customers. A better approach is to focus on one or two platforms rather than all of them. In other words, less is often more.

To help you decide which platforms to leverage, I always recommend that you start with understanding your customers.

Even the best businesses will fail if they are marketing to the wrong audience, which is why it’s crucial to understand your customers. Do you know which social media platforms your customers are using? Is Facebook their network of choice, or perhaps they prefer Snapchat? Maybe their usage is a mix of both or includes others. As a business, it is essential to focus your social efforts on the networks that your customers are using — and not those they aren’t.

There are several different ways to gather information about your customers’ social networking preferences. You could create a survey using one of the many free online survey solutions, such as Survey Monkey, Survey Planet, or Google Forms, and encourage your customers to fill it out. You may want to offer a small incentive, such as a discount on a future purchase or a chance to win a gift card, to increase response rates.

In place of an online survey, you could also create a paper version. Keep the survey short and perhaps ask them to rank the networks they’re most active on. Once again, providing a small incentive will increase response rates.

Understanding your customers’ social media preferences is only one part of the equation. Just as important is developing a customer persona — a semi-fictional archetype that represents the key traits of a large segment of your audience. In other words, describe your customer. What demographics (age, gender, marital status, and income) best fit your customer? Do they have specific interests or hobbies? What are their goals and challenges, and how does your business or brand help them achieve or overcome them?

It’s no secret that certain demographic groups gravitate toward specific social media platforms. A well-developed customer persona helps you understand who your ideal customer is and more importantly, where to find them on social media.

There is no guaranteed formula for social media success. However, focusing on one or two platforms, and conducting a little research, will go a long way in boosting your business for years to come.

Daniel Ramirez is director of public relations and marketing at South Texas College in McAllen. He has more than 17 years experience in various aspects of college marketing, including integrated marketing, advertising, branding, digital strategy, publications, media relations, social media, and strategic communication.