Remember back in 2005 when all serious business strategists were required to read and keep at the ready a copy of the book “The World is Flat” by author Thomas Friedman? Friedman challenged us to to think differently about markets and commerce and how the “flattening of the world” will be as much of a watershed movement as the invention of the printing press. The world’s geographic and geological barriers are eliminated by technology and the wall-free world of the internet. How we do business, make money and get access to information today are radically different than just 10 years ago when it was published. Friedman was right – and one of his points is that business owners need to stay ahead of this movement in order to best capitalize on the opportunities it presents.
Friedman’s book was published a year after Facebook was conceived – just 11 years ago. It’s mind boggling, really. Since the inception of Facebook in 2004 the propagation of social media channels and their reach has been enormous. What other teenaged media channel can boast about a reach of 1.75 Billion? Twitter has 310 Million active users! In September 2015, Instragram announced they surpassed Twitter with 400 Million active users – doubling their reach in the space of 18 months! Pinterest, SnapChat, LinkedIn and others also continue to grow and expand their user bases – all with slightly different target demographics. The reach of social media proves out Friedman's theory that traditional barriers have disappeared in just a decade or two.
Given the exponential growth of reach by social media, it is no wonder business owners, small and large alike, salivate over the potential these channels can offer. Some large business owners invested heavily and early and it’s paid off for them - Twitter Case studies range from Airbus to American Red Cross to Taco Bell and Golden State Warriors. Small Businesses across the US have latched onto facebook as a way to cost effectively communicate promotions, events and product to their customers. Instagram for business is growing – soon outpacing the “insta-celebrtity” teens who happen to have a great eye for imagery and a sharp wit.
When I meet with small business owners about a social media strategy, one of the first questions in our conversation centers on choosing the right channel. With such a variety of options, how do you pick the right one to spend limited resources against to get the biggest impact? Its actually the same question they’ve been asking for years, just about different choices. Newspaper ads vs. Television commercials, radio spots vs. yellow pages. Billboards vs. post card mailers. It’s all about eyeballs on their brand.
While the answer is simple – executing the strategy is not, and like all good strategies, it takes work. Here’s the answer: Align your target demographic with the current and future trending demographic of a particular channel. The tricky part is staying on top of trends about who is using that channel! When Facebook started up in 2004 – I don’t think anyone would have imagined how quickly it would “grey”. In 2009, AdWeek reported that Facebook’s largest growth was women over the age of 55. Since then, Zephoria states that women, as a demographic segment has reached a solid stronghold majority position, and the 25-34 year old age group has also reached majority at 29.7% of Facebook users . . This is just an example of how we need to pay attention to trends as we continually update our social media strategies! What will happen next? Good question - perhaps I need a copy of World is Flat 3.0 and we can see into the future together!
Some quick tips when thinking about options, no matter what the trend:
If you haven’t already determined your target audience, invest the time! It will pay back in any advertising you do, internet based or otherwise. Think about who your current client base is and where you want to grow. Document it, cogitate on it and update it when you have new informationChose one social media channel that matches your target as closely as possible. Use current trending data rather than 2 year old data; it makes a difference as these channels shift quickly!Consider your product or service and how is it best communicated. In the food service business Instagram may be a great place to start since we can’t resist sharing great food via a picture! Consulting? Twitter is a great place to show off and share your business tips – 140 characters at a time. Massage Therapist? Facebook is a great place for clients to check in and describe how relaxed they are after they leave your shop!
Don’t forget about Business to Business Social media – LinkedIn is a great way to build brand via information exchange. Blogging is also effective at establishing your reputation.
Most importantly, don’t let the large number of choices stop you from exploring your options to reach new customers. LittleBox Social can help you develop your target audience and segmentation strategy, as well as select the right channel for your business. We help small business owners tell their story on the best channels, in the most relevant and high quality manner possible.
Interested? Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information!