Social media is no longer just a job for interns or young, tech-savvy individuals. There are enough social media platforms now for every audience and community that all businesses can benefit from using social media to reach their current customers and target prospects.

By engaging with customers on social media, businesses can strengthen their customer relationships, enhance their brand presence, and ultimately increase their sales. But how exactly can you get these results for your business?

Before you create a social media profile, think of a strategy, reason, and/or goal for participating on social media. Are you trying to generate more leads? Or are you trying to find business partnerships or investors for your next new property?

Clearly defining a strategy will help you decide on the best channels you can use to represent your brand. For example, if you’re aiming to reach customers, you might want to use different social media channels than the ones prospective business partners or investors use.

The first step to social media success, then, is to find out who your target audience is andwhere they hang out online. This information will help you determine which channels are best for promoting your business. Otherwise, you might end up putting time and energy into a social media profile that your target audience will never see.

Who and Where Is Your Audience?

If you’re attempting to reach new or current website visitors/leads on social media channels, start by examining your existing website analytics software. Google
Analyticsdemographic and interest reports, for example, will show you your largest audience segments by age, gender, affinity, and purchasing interest.

Once you have this data, compare it with who you think you should be targeting and/or your customer data. For example, your tenant data may show that your primary customers are men ages 70+, but your lead/website data may show that your primary audience is women ages 55+. If you want to target more leads through social media, be sure to develop your social media strategy around reaching your lead/website audience (women ages 55+).

You can also use customer data to find out who your current customers are and how to reach them. The more information you can get, the better. Add questions about social media contact information to your current survey program or application process, or run software against a current list of contacts with tools such as Full Contact or SalesForce.

It’s important to get as much information as you can about your target audience. Look beyond their demographics. Think: what do they want to talk about online? What are their needs, challenges, and values? The more you know, the more you can tailor your business messaging to their specific needs. This attention to their needs will ultimately entice them to comment, like, tweet, and/or buy!


Choose Your Social Media Channels Carefully

Once you understand your target audience, you’re ready to step into social media. Select social media channels based on target audience data and where your current customers are most present. Here are some common platforms, their audiences, and uses:

  • Facebook is the most popular channel based on number of users. However, it’s difficult to get organic reach without paid advertising on Facebook.
  • Twitter is an excellent source for finding business partnerships/relationships. On a customer side, users expect conversations and quick responses to questions. You can use the platform to provide customer service in a new way.
  • Instagram is owned by Facebook but “feels” more personal than Facebook. It’s mostly focused on lifestyle through photographs.
  • Snapchat is ideal for storytelling and behind-the-scenes videos! Take short video clips, and Snapchat will compile them together in a “snap story.”
  • Periscope lets you broadcast live to your Twitter followers. This means you can hold conferences, events, and giveaways in the moment – with the speed of Twitter.
  • Pinterest is a great place to organize content, create boards, and link to individual websites or blog pages. Upload branded images for instant recognition and sharing.
  • Google+ is mostly marketing-focused. It’s geared for specific types of audiences.
  • LinkedIn is a platform for business relationships and industry-focused content.
  • WordPress is a blogging platform with the ability to engage users through comments. It’s best to post a blog on WordPress, then post snippets to other social media platforms to amplify your reach.
  • YouTube is a huge search presence owned by Google. Really, all businesses should be leveraging YouTube.
  • Vimeo is another video platform. It has no advertisements and is focused on the creator and consumer, which makes it different from the giant YouTube.

Setting up social media profiles is just the first step. Once your profile is complete, it’s time to start thinking about how to reach your target audience. For tips on that, continue to Part 2, “Reaching Your Target Audience”.