While mainstream use of social networks is only a few years old, we already know a lot about how consumers use them. Besides, a few years is a generation in Internet parlance anyway. Here are seven truths of social networks that you can rely upon. If you are going to bookmark one page of this Blog, then bookmark this page because these truths should guide your thinking regardless of what you do with social media:
1. Social media is the preferred way for people in younger demographics to communicate with each other. Nothing else comes close.
2. Social media is based on the concept of friends, but that term today is very loosely applied. Similarly, profiles are loosely defined and can be used in a variety of ways by people, companies, brands, and so on.
3. The more active a consumer is on the Internet, the more likely they participate in multiple social networks. Oftentimes, these people are influencers within a circle of friends and have a tremendous impact on the opinions of others.
4. Once information is shared on a social network, it is out there and can’t easily be contained. Everything is out in the open and largely visible for other people to see.
5. Social media is best applied in addition to existing Internet marketing programs and alongside other Web assets. When building a strategy, you must think comprehensively.
6. The rules are still being made. Social media “etiquette” is still relatively immature. Tread carefully.
And the seventh and final truth involves the factors that contribute to social media usage. Everyone on social networks is motivated by some combination of the following human needs:
Finding love, keeping up with loved ones, and so forth
2. Self-expression/emotion Sharing life’s details with friends
3. Sharing opinions/influencing friends Using social media as a platform for influencing opinions, usually about politics, religion, or other things we don’t typically debate in person
4. Showing off Sharing life’s successes and/or achievements with others
5. Fun/escapism/humor Using social media to get a good laugh
6. Memories and nostalgia Catching up with old friends and sharing old stories
7. Making money Using social networks primarily to support professional pursuits
As you can probably tell, the motivation for using Facebook Twitter and others varies significantly depending on your customer. Most companies with mature marketing departments spend a lot of time on customer personas to understand who customers are and how they behave. While this can, at times, trap a business into oversimplifying its customer base, this is one case where I think developing personas can be especially effective even for a smaller business. Let’s think of this in practical terms. For instance, single people will typically be far more interested in finding a love interest than a happily married person in their 40s. The happily married person may want to use Facebook to keep up with relatives and loved ones. A grandmother will be more interested in sharing pictures and stories about loved ones than her grandchildren will be. If you are going to create a successful marketing campaign, you’re going to have to identify the people you are trying to reach and exactly how you can reach them more effectively. Figure out who your customer(s) are and what their motivation is for using Facebook. That exercise will help you craft a much better campaign for your target market, and it will also inform your ad copy and/or creative. We’ll talk more about building the right social media campaign for your target audience later in this post.
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