Recent studies are showing that just 6 hours a week spent on social media correlates to an almost 66% increase in lead generation and customer engagement. In light of these numbers, there’s not really a matter of choice anymore. Few businesses on the planet, large or small, can afford not to connect with their consumers on social media. And the ones who can are doing it too. So there’s really no excuse.

Just having a webpage, and a static Facebook fan page isn’t enough. You must actively engage with your customers on social media. But stepping out into that online world can seem like wandering into a minefield.

There are 20 social media outlets that boast over 100-million members (4 of them owned by Facebook, including Instagram). Globally, we’re seeing more than 200 social network sites with a minimum of 100,000 users, most of which have far more than that. Obviously, you can’t try and connect with every site. For one, a lot of users overlap, and several are targeted niche communities that may not fit your target audience.

Let’s Get Strategic

Well, first you need to take a hard, detailed, strategic look at your customer (and potential customer) base. Hopefully, you’ve already built a profile of just who those people are. If not, there’s no better time than the present – the time it takes to examine and properly employ a strategic approach will pay high dividends. Trust us, it’s worth it.

Start with these questions: Who is your best prospect? How much can you possibly know about them? Imagine your customer base as an archery target. Your perfect customer is the bullseye. It’s not a big target and there’s a reason for this.

As narrowly as possible, you need to identify the common traits that your very best buyers share with one another, including who spends the most, the most often. Not every customer will be in the bullseye, but if you know who is your perfect target, you’re more likely to hit the highest value customers you want. By the way, this is where those tighter niche social sites fit in. If your target audience is bloggers, spending a little marketing money on FuelMyBlog may be a much more valuable spend than the same amount or more on Instagram or Pinterest.

Now, Where Are They?

Now that you know your perfect customer, where do they typically exist on social media? Everyone’s stock answer is Facebook, and while it’s true that the site has more than 1.6 Billion users, across all spectrums, remember, we’re trying to be strategic. So, yes, Facebook can’t be ignored, but take advantage of their Business Manager tools to target your potential customers as specifically as possible. And bear in mind that with 1.6 Billion users, and Facebook’s constantly changing algorithm, the odds are against your business page making a huge splash, especially if it’s your only focus.

On the other hand, if you’re willing to spend the money, Facebook Ad’s, particularly if you’re utilizing the Business Manager tools properly, can be a powerful tool for reaching your ideal customer.

The other thing to consider with Facebook is its predominant demographics. Yes, everybody seems to be on there, but who are the active users? We found that American women and men between the ages of 25 – 54 make up 31% of Facebook users, and 45% of them check the site multiple times a day.

Where Else Should I Look?

Only 9% of active Facebook users are between the ages of 18 – 24. If teens and college coeds are your target audience, Snap.com (formerly Snapchat – see how fast things change?) or Instagram might be your best bet – although even on Instagram the average age is starting to edge upwards, especially since it was purchased by Facebook.

Snap boasts 60% of users under 24, that spend 30 minutes or more a day on the site. And if you’re creating short video content, they are quickly outpacing YouTube and Vimeo as the go-to spot for fun, short videos.

The other factor to consider for Instagram is that its algorithm no longer presents posts in chronological order to users, but rather in random order that seems to favor most liked and commented posts. If you have great visuals that can build and hold an audience over time, then go for it. Otherwise, consider another outlet.

If your target audience is largely women, then take a hard look at Pinterest. The scrapbooking-style pin boards appeal to women across age, race and culture. 42% of women online are on Pinterest and more than 30% of their users are 18-49.

If you’re a generally a B2B business, and looking for lead generation, LinkedIN may be your best option. It’s not just a site to look for your next job or employee, as long-term users know. In fact, the groups on LinkedIN, separated (and sometimes isolated) by their sector of the market, tend to be more active than on other social platforms, reminiscent of the ListServe’s of yesteryear.

The YouTube Factor

While, as we mentioned, shorter videos are more popular on Snap than YouTube, it’s not ready to be ignored quite yet. In fact, one of the perks of YouTube being owned by Google is that Google now ranks YouTube videos higher in standard search results, not just in video. If you’re making audiovisual content, you’ll want to post it on YouTube (and if it’s compelling enough, Facebook too, as that site tends to throttle the non-Facebook video content that users see).

And as exciting as your corporate presentation at the latest conference in Seattle was, remember that shorter is better, period. Many viewers will stop a video just as it’s starting if they see that they’ll be stuck watching it for 30 or 45 minutes, even if it’s compelling. The general rule is try to keep it under 5-10 minutes, unless you’re a Hollywood studio with all that entails.

And One More Thing…

One site you need to keep on top of, even though it’s difficult (or sometimes unethical) to create content for – Yelp (and other review sites). While the content is all user generated, having an active strategy in place that encourages and even rewards your customers for checking in and leaving positive reviews is a must. If you’re not keeping abreast of what’s happening on Yelp, one bad review can temporarily cripple or outright ruin your business. Keep up to date on what’s being said about you, use the positives to promote your business on other social media sites, and follow up immediately when something negative pops up.

It’s A LOT to Deal With

We get it. There are hundreds of sites, and even if you just focus on the top ones for your business, it’s easy to get overwhelmed, fall behind and give up hope. But social media is not just the future, it’s often the BEST way to promote your business, online or off. That’s why companies like TLK Fusion keep on top of the social media trends, as well as the standard methods of advertising and promotion. Let us put a plan together to help you make the best use of your marketing dollars across your user base and as you continue to grow.