In addition to knowing about the demographic make up of your community members and making sure they participate in your community not just hang around reading other people’s contributions you need to know something about the demographics of the social sites you want to work with.
I just read an article by Tom Stein about how small companies are giving up on Facebook as a marketing tool because they haven’t seen any returns on their efforts and some of the companies cited had been at it for a year or two. So is Facebook’s time in the sun ending? Maybe, but it will take more than a few anecdotes to make that call.
Consider this. According to a resent survey by Pingdom (www.pingdom.com) concluded that 16 out of 19 (84%) of the most popular social sites have more women populating them than men. The super geek sites Digg, Reddit and Slashdot have more men on them but the more popular sites including Facebook, Linked-in and Twitter all have more women visiting them. The average ratio of all sites surveyed according to Pingdom was 47% male, 53% female.
That’s fine as far as I am concerned because women spend the bulk of family budgets. But this neatly illustrates the flaw in the assumption that social media is a universal good. One of the companies that Stein references as being dissatisfied with Facebook happens to be Blank Label, a company specializing in custom shirts designed and bought over the web.
So, the question that leaps to mind now that we know all this is how many custom shirts does the average woman buy annually? Go ahead, think about it, I can wait. Bingo!
So at least in the case of the shirt maker, the over reliance on Facebook is an example of not understanding the delivery medium. It used to be so easy with print. Magazines publish detailed statistics on readership, subscriptions, demographics and more so that potential advertisers can make educated decisions on their marketing spend. The same kind of information is available from other sources on the web but you’ll need to do some work to find it and maybe collate it.
The point is that social media is just a tool. There are many kinds of social media some tools are great at blasting out messages to friends but other tools focus on collecting information from your community. The focus on inbound data often gets lost with the result that we continue to “spray and pray” using social media as if it were direct mail or email marketing. Social media is powerful and easy to use but we still need to pay attention to how we use it.
The shirt maker might have a friend list of only men but and here’s the difficult part men might not go to Facebook looking for information specific to shirts. The fact that so many women use it suggests to me that men who go there have other things on their minds. So we see that just as in print advertising, lead generation is a fine art partly made up of the offer but much consideration should also go to placement.