No doubt you’ve heard the headlines. Facebook now has close to two billion users, 84% of Australians are actively using social media platforms, and Snapchat is the place to be to reach younger users. The arguments around why your business should have a social media presence are fairly compelling – but still, these are generic trends, aren't they? Social media, and the specific social platforms, may not be of much value to your business.
It depends on how you look at it.
Definitely, there’s a solid case to suggest that every business does need to be present on every social platform. But at the same time, establishing a social media presence can have value beyond what you might expect – here are some key stats to consider when examining whether social media is relevant for your business.
1. Social is where people engage
Yes, this pretty much reinforces the above data, but the consideration is key.
In Australia for example, Facebook has close to 16 million monthly active users, and an active reach of 71.16% of the population. Instagram has close to seven million Australian users, while Snapchat has four million, and all of these figures are rising.
It’s hard to ignore stats like that.
If more than 65% of the entire population are actively using social, chances are very high that your target market is among them – and if they’re getting key product information and recommendations on those platforms, you probably want to know.
But maybe that’s not what they use social for, maybe they’re only interacting with friends and family. Right?
2. Social search is rising
Consider this – two billion searches are conducted on Facebook every day. That’s still a lot less than Google, sure (Google reportedly handles more than five billion searches every 24 hours), but still, that’s a lot – and again, it’s growing all the time.
On one hand, you could assume that a lot of these searches are for friends and profiles, but increasingly, social platforms are being used for product queries and references. When people are out buying products, they’re referring to their social networks for recommendations, they’re searching friends’ posts for mentions, they’re looking up brands on social platforms to see what they’re about.
The rise of social search is undeniable – Google is the search leader, but more and more, people are also utilising social for its search capacity.
3. Social provides new opportunities
As noted earlier, one of the key myths brands do need to ignore is the suggestion that you need to be active on all social networks. This is totally untrue.
Some big brands will, of course, see significant benefit from being present everywhere, because their audience is so diverse, but most businesses only need to focus on a few social networks. This is particularly relevant when starting out – there’s no point trying to simultaneously update your Snapchat Story, your Instagram Story, your Twitter Moment, your Facebook Live video, your LinkedIn publisher post, etc.
You likely won’t see the benefit, but you will see the negative aspect, when you’re struggling to keep up.
You need to build a social presence on the platforms where your target audience is active. Not on the ones getting the most press coverage, not on the ones your friends say are cool. You need to do some research and work out which platforms best fit your business.
How do you do this?
Check what other brands in your industry are doing – look them up on each platform and see what sort of following and engagement per post they’re getting. You could also use a tool such as BuzzSumo, which enables you to enter a keyword and get a listing of the most shared content across social platforms for that subject. Tally up the numbers and you’ll be able to see which platforms are seeing the most engagement around your chosen subject.
You could also survey your customers and see where they’re most interested in hearing from you, or use more general trends data, such as the annual Sensis Social Media Report, to get a sense of which platforms are more popular among your target groups.
There are various benefits to having a social presence, but it’s also important not to get caught up in the hype, and to focus on the platforms of most relevance to your business. Take these notes on board and take a moment to consider your businesses’ social media approach.