Just as all audiences are not the same, neither are all social media sites . Every social network has its nuances, whether it be in the way users behave, connect, or share within that network's particular environment. Think about it. Do you have the same criteria on LinkedIn for who you choose to connect with as you do on Facebook? If Twitter were like LinkedIn, would you still 'follow' as many people?
So, if people act differently from social network to social network, shouldn't your marketing act differently, too? Just as a caterer adjusts its approach -- it's style, menu, manners -- to fit the needs of who its catering for, marketers must modify its approach to cater to the specific environment and behaviors of different social networks. Below, we'll discuss some general tips to help you analyze the environments of the networks your target audiences populate as well as provide you with a quick cheat sheet for understanding the behaviors of the 4 most popular social networks -- Twitter , Facebook , LinkedIn , and Google+.
How to Analyze and Adjust Your Marketing Approach for Different Social Networks
Step 1: Create a Personal Account
The best way to understand the nuances of a specific social network is to become a user yourself. Sign up for a personal account on all the social networks where you do or would like to have a presence for your business . The key here is to create a personal account, not a business account, since the goal is see how the people you're marketing to interact within the network -- both with other users and with other businesses.
Step 2: Analyze the Tone and Specific Behaviors of People in the Network
As you're observing and participating in the environment of the specific social network, try to pick up on behavioral cues. Here are some great questions to ask yourself when conducting this analysis:
- Do people tend to be more formal or informal in their interactions?
- Do people seem to use certain criteria when deciding to accept a connection?
- Does the network even support business accounts/pages?
- Do people readily interact with brands, or are brands represented through personal profiles instead?
- What kinds of content do people share?
- In what ways are users engaging with each other?
- How much activity exists? How often/frequently does content get shared, and at what pace?
- How many people belong to the network?
Asking these types of questions will help you understand the pulse of how the social network functions, which will enable you to adapt and optimize your marketing communications to the way its users behave.
Step 3: Modify Your Marketing Approach
Use what you learned about the social network in step three to create an individual marketing approach for that specific site. If you notice that business accounts are unavailable, use your personal account to connect with other users and spread your messages and content. If you notice that people are only sharing very high-quality content on a limited basis vs. a ton of content, adopt that same approach and avoid spamming users with a lot of content on a frequent basis. To use popular social networks as an example, on Twitter, more content and frequent updates is much more acceptable than the same practice on Facebook. Are people more formal in their updates on one social network than another? Then change the language of your messaging to align with that tone.
How Users Behave on the 4 Major Social Networks
Want a quick snapshot of how users behave in the 4 most popular social networks? Here's a little cheat sheet ...
Twitter: Users 'follow' other users (which may include businesses) to obtain information, share updates, and be social. Users are open to following brands, and updates are limited to short, 140-character messages. Twitter is great for sharing links to awesome content and reaching a wide variety of users. The tone is informal, and users commonly connect with brands for customer support, new content, contests, and offers. Who users choose to 'follow back' is fairly open, and users are generally comfortable connecting with more people even if they don't "know" them.
Facebook: Users either create personal accounts or interact as brands via business pages . Facebookers are commonly more strict about who they connect and become "friends" with on Facebook. Usually, Facebook "friendship" is limited to who a person already knows or is friends with in real life, but people's personal criteria for this can vary. Posts and updates in the network can be longer-form, but the network appreciates less frequent and more valuable updates from businesses, particularly updates that offer exclusive offers and content . To obtain updates from businesses, users 'like' (AKA become fans of) that business' page. The tone is personal and engaging.
LinkedIn: LinkedIn is a network that mainly attracts and suits the needs of business professionals, making it a great fit for B2B marketers . Brands can have company pages, and users can 'follow' the page for updates from those companies. The network has more of a business networking and career focus, and the way users connect is much more formal. Users often have fewer, more intimate connections than they would on Facebook or Twitter. Content shared and discussions that start are usually more industry and business-focused.
Google+: The newest of the major networks, Google+ enables users to connect with each other by adding connections to different 'Circles.' It currently attracts more of a digital, tech-focused audience of users who are mainly male . The network is similar to Facebook in its functionality, and now that business pages are available, its being tapped by the business community for marketing, too.
Pulling it All Together
Use your time wisely in your social media marketing efforts. Remember: just because a social network is "popular," doesn't mean it's necessarily right for your business or industry. Use analytics as your guide . Monitor the traffic and leads you're generating from your presence on each individual social media site. Is the return on investment significant enough based on the time and effort you're spending there? Is one social site performing better for you than another? Adjust your strategy accordingly to focus more of your time on the social networks that work for you, and less of your time on those that don't.
Image Credit: SCA Svenska Cellulosa Actiebolaget