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Find out if your customers are on social networks

When deciding on possible activities on social networks, there are several ways to verify that your target customers are using social networking.

This text builds on the previous article:
Involve social networks into B2B communications

The presence of target groups is  key when considering possible activities on social networks. During my activities in social networks, I came across several cases where this step had been underestimated or entirely omitted. As a result, communicating on social networks was not working and money was wasted on ineffective advertising and other related activities.

A communication strategy for social networks must always be supported by qualified information about the presence of the target group. If the service is not used by your customers (or anyone else you want to reach) not even the best strategy will work.

In my previous article, I mentioned several possible ways of gathering information about the presence of the target group. This article will present some of them in detail and will extend the list with additionalmethods.

Ask your customers

The most direct action is to ask your own customers. This way you come to a very specific conclusion and also get additional valuable information - for example, what content they want to watch. Collecting  information this way may be challenging and, especially with large distribution networks, poses a problem. When using this method, it is also necessary to take into account that it is limited to a group of existing customers and does not cover anypotential customers. Usually this is not a problem within well established companies as potential customers tend to behave similarly to existing ones.

Another possible tool is the analysis of the competition, which is usually used in the preparation of the communication strategy. A competitive analysis involves searching for and viewing your competition's profiles on individual services and specifically monitoring how they are being active from engaging their users to promoting their brand. It is also possible to take into account the number of subscribers and followers, but this figure is not very meaningful or reliable because fans can easily be bought (at a cost of low or negligible relevance).

Reach for your own data

An interesting source of data - by far not only for purposes of this decision - is remarketing, which is currently only available on Facebook. Remarketing represents a targeting tool which you can use in advertising to engage with users who have visited your website and completed a specific action (such as visited a specific page, purchased certain goods, left unfinished orders in the shopping cart, etc.). In technical terms, it just involves adding a bit of external code in the header of all your pages. This code then provides a data exchange with specific advertising systems. In addition to Facebook, remarketing is also available with Google AdWords, Sklik and some other providers.

The essence of remarketing is creating a database of very relevant users. A high relevance is determined by the fact that visitors must have found your site in some way (targeted queries in search engines, they saw the ad and responded to it, etc.). They do not get to your site randomly and they pursued a specific goal with their visit. This principle can be used to evaluate the presence of target groups without investing a penny in advertising. After Facebook's remarketing code has been placed on your website, you can watch the growing number of users who visited your website while they were signed into their Facebook accounts. All data are available in the advertising manager, it is always accessible, even if you are not currently advertising. If you divide this figure by the number of unique visitors to the website over a given period, you will get the information about the Facebook penetration in the group of your visitors. If you use your remarketing database for targeted advertising (and this service is not free of charge any more), you will also find the percentage of actually active users in your database.

Personally, I believe a penetration greater than 20% can be considered an excellent result in the B2B segment. In the B2C segment, the results vary widely depending on the age range of the target group, but situations where 70 or 80 percent of the site's visitors are logged in to Facebook at the same time are not rare.

You can also upload a list of e-mail addresses or phone numbers into the advertising manager of Facebook and the service will try to pair them with the associated user accounts. This works very well in the B2C segment, where e-mail address or phone numbers that you have in the database are often used to log into Web services by their owners. In the B2B segment, email addresses are generally useless. However, you can at least succeed with the phone numbers. After uploading the data you can again see the percentage of successful pairings and consequently the data can be used for ad targeting.

Information about the reach of the advertising managers

If the target user can be defined at the level of ad targeting options, information about the potential reach from the advertising manager can be taken into account when making decisions. To define the target user on Facebook, you can use broad demographic classifications such as gender, age, location, but also quite detailed behavioral attributes, such as interests and relationships between users. In Facebook, you get rough, rather tentative figures than the exact results recommended to follow. As an example, we can use dentists that you would like to target on social networks. First, you enter Dentistry as your interest in the advertising manager. However, in the estimated range, you will see a number several times higher than the actual size of the market (even if you had included students and related professions into it). This is caused by the fact that it includes all users who, for example, started following the page of their or any other dentist who fits in this category, and by following it, they expressed a specific interest in Dentistry.

Advertising on Twitter is unusable for the purposes of this decision. However, LinkedIn offers highly accurate targeting users according to the field in which they work, their position or their specific skills (representing their interests). This accuracy is, however, compensated by a significant disruption as the LinkedIn users are not very active on the network, and advertising is more expensive compared to Facebook.

Survey on Twitter

On Twitter, only a survey may be used for the aformentioned procedures. You will find most information about people using Twitter if you join the environment of this social network for a while. The most active Twitter users are from marketing departments, IT specialists, independent entrepreneurs, journalists, and politicians. Quite a few users use Twitter just to passively  watch selected users. They do not contribute to anything and usually do not respond to any other users.

Effort that pays off

Deciding on the benefits of social networking described this way may give the impression that it is a complicated process. In fact, it is especially important to select a combination of suitable methods and their correct application with the knowledge of their disadvantages and limitations. Spending a lot of time on a thorough consideration of the importance of social networks for your business or brand, you can work with realistic goals and expectations.

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