How to Really Connect with Your Facebook & Twitter Audience

Connecting on SoMeAs social media has grown and evolved, the reasons people use it vary. In the past, many users would keep their Facebook accounts more personal and reserve LinkedIn for strictly business. Though some still try to stick by these rules, the lines have gotten blurred. I often hear people say they would like to delete their personal Facebook accounts but can’t because their attached to their business’s page or because that’s how they keep up with their family. What’s more, people seem to be going back to the idea of wanting a more private network such as Instagram. What do you prefer?

It’s actually a bit of a catch 22. We marketers wanted social media to grow. We wanted to draw consumers in and convince businesses that they should adopt marketing through their social channels. Yet, as this has happened, each network has become much more saturated making marketing much harder.

News & Social Media                                  

In a new study from the Pew Research Center and John S. and James L. Knight Foundation called “The Evolving Role of News on Twitter and Facebook,” 63 percent of the more than 2,000 U.S. adults surveyed said they viewed both Twitter and Facebook primarily for news. Understandably, Twitter is considered the best channel for breaking news with just 31 percent going to Facebook for news to break.

Pew & Twitter and Facebook's Impact on News

Other interesting findings from this study include:

  • The rise in the share of social media users getting news on Facebook or Twitter cuts across nearly every demographic group.
  • When it comes specifically to news and information about government and politics, Facebook users are more likely to post and respond to content, while Twitter users are more likely to follow news organizations.

Marketing Impact

Does this information matter to marketers? Yes! Marketers need to know the reasons their audience goes to each social channel. Now, most small-to-medium-sized businesses do not always relate to hard news, but since statistics show a large portion looking for news, marketers need to tailor their content accordingly. Here’s how:

1. Avoid Fluff Content

Audiences everywhere have gotten smarter, but this is especially true for social media audiences. No one has time for fluffy, salesy content. It doesn’t make people want to follow your page or buy your products or services. Instead, it turns people off.

2. Be Authentic

If people have their eyes opened for news, they don’t want to play games. This doesn’t mean that humor can’t be incorporated, but it does mean that every business should have a clear and direct strategy. In other words, don’t post just to be posting. Keep your goals in mind, watch audience trends, and honestly communicate with your audience. It’s really not difficult, but so often, marketers neglect being real, which can severely hurt them.

3. Piggyback on News Event (But Use Caution)                                                                                                                      

When possible, use a news event to your advantage. For instance, if a famous person passes away, use an inspirational quote from them and turn it into a meme. Another situation could be that your state or the government is passing legislation that could help your industry or businesses in general. Political involvement can be controversial, but if your business is passionate either way on an issue, you should let your voice be heard. If you have correctly identified your audience, they will likely support your stance as well.

It’s important to understand that the “when possible” mentioned above has to carefully be taken into consideration. It’s up to the business, but we would not recommend trying to piggyback on the recent SCOTUS ruling or Iran, for example. While these are no doubt very popular topics on Facebook and Twitter, these topics could alienate your business. Your posts could go viral, but not in the way you want. And, when it comes to social media, bad publicity is very real and brings a host of reputation management issues.

Doing this correctly is more about taking a tragedy and creating an online contest to give your audience an opportunity to contribute. Or, creating a meme as suggested above. It’s also about thinking on your feet like Arby’s did with Pharrell Williams during last year’s Grammy awards.

Ultimately, connecting with your Facebook and Twitter audiences depends on how well you know them. Studies like the one from Pew Research Foundation and John S. and James L. Knight Foundation help to show trends that may create opportunities for better engaging with your audience. But, it’s up to you as a marketer to do your research and see if it applies.

Why Social Media Is NOT a Fad

Oh my. Here we go again. The question over whether or not social media is a fad has been sparked once again. A few years ago, this debate was really hot as social networks – namely Facebook and Twiter – were figuring out how to monetize their services. It has died down in recent years but, every once in a while, it gets revived, which is what is happening now.

To understand why social media is here to stay, let’s back up to the days before Facebook and Twitter. Even back then, social media existed. At this point, it primarily consisted of forums. Then, between 2004-2006, blogs really began taking off. The glory days of MySpace, of course, fell into this time frame too.

Although forums had been around for years, an interesting shift in communication began taking place over the course of these years. As this occurred, people, meaning regular, average Joe individuals, started realizing that they had a voice. These regular people could connect and converse with their peers. And as a result, these conversations provided value.

With the power of this concept starting to sink in, the shift in communication began to evolve. What helped this concept grow and evolve even more, however, was largely due to free blogging platforms such as WordPress and Blogspot as well as LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter coming onto the scene.

As these events started to unfold, businesses also started seeing changes. Now that essentially everyone had a voice, their job became harder. Businesses could no longer dictate the message they wanted consumers to hear. The roles became reversed.

At this time, businesses started seeing the true value of new media and began embracing it. If you fast-forward to today, all social channels have grown exponentially. Businesses that recognized the shift in communication early on are finding that social media is simply an extension of their traditional marketing strategy. Others that have been late to the game are playing catch up. And, of course, there are some who have yet to join in that will, unfortunately but likely, face many challenges when they realize the importance of social integration.

The “fad” factor comes into play as there are so many new social networks being introduced in today’s world. There are a LOT of social networks in today’s world. From image-based networks to video-based networks and beyond, it’s incredibly hard to keep up with them all, especially when they are geared toward very niche verticals.

Will one of these rise up to become the next Facebook? It’s possible. But, at this point, no one knows. Back in MySpace’s day, most of its users probably thought it was here to stay. The trend, however, changed.

With Facebook, it is somewhat different. While it is true that Facebook is losing some of the younger generation of users, this doesn’t mean that it’s dying. Facebook is still the go-to place for many users next to email. In fact, recent statistics from Digital Marketing Ramblings show that Facebook has 1.15 billion users, and 699 million daily active users. Does this sound like a site that’s dying? It is certainly possible that Facebook may not be around at some point. But, it doesn’t seem to be headed in this direction any time in the near future.

More importantly, even if Facebook goes away, there will be another network(s) that everyone will be using. Unless the communication model moves backward, which in all honesty is next to impossible, social media is here for the long haul.

A new study from Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project shows that social media usage among U.S. adults has risen 800 percent in just 8 years. Also among noteworthy news, Twitter users have grown 125 percent since 2010.

Pew Internet Study

On the business side, a study from the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth Center for Marketing Research shows that the corporate world gets that social media has immense value too:

Fortune 500 Social Media Usage

All these reasons are more than proof to squash the “Is social media a fad?” debate. Instead, how about we focus on making the current social platforms better for businesses to succeed?