Posted by : Amanda Stein Thursday, October 31, 2013

From tiny home-based businesses to giant corporations, the Internet has allowed companies to expand their market to a global scale and access their customers through the web. As one of the most powerful tools in your business marketing arsenal, social media allows businesses of all sizes to connect in a meaningful way with current and potential customers. But with such an ever-expanding sea of social media options, how do you start to identify where to find your customers?

Why Use Social Media?

In 2012, comScore released their 2012 U.S. Digital Future in Focus report which brought to light some staggering facts about the importance of social media in people's lives. In December 2011, 90% of all Internet users visited a social media site. Additionally, consumers are regularly spending one out of every six minutes online on social networking sites. With numbers like these, the importance and impact of using social media as a tool for boosting business can't be ignored.

Where Do I Start?

For some businesses new to the "SEO world" concept, the idea of managing social media sites can become a bit overwhelming. Without proper direction, a business may waste its marketing efforts and even miss income opportunities. There are several basic ideas to hunting down your target audience by using social media. Once you have identified who your target market is by age range, interests or sex, and developed a picture of who they are, finding their social media habits becomes easy.

1) Identify Where Your Target Audience Spends Their Time

Social media offers a multitude of options for the consumer. While some have become more geared to certain age groups, others are known for creating connections based on interests and hobbies. For example, Facebook generally attracts an even spread of users from kids to age 65, but Twitter's largest demographic comes from the 35-44 year old age range.

Looking for that elusive under 35 market? Fifty-eight percent of Reddit users fall into that category. There are other studies available for free on the web to also help identify male/female skews and other interests.

2) Join Up, Friend & Follow

Once you've identified the basics on which social networking sites are best for finding your audience, you can start looking into joining up with those who share interests that pertain to what you're doing. For example, if you run an online specialty food store, join groups of people on Facebook who love cooking, friend chefs and those who cook professionally, and follow bloggers who write about food.

By engaging these people, your name will start to gain recognition and followers, and your website will see the difference.

3) Promote Online

One of the easiest ways to get new followers and friends is to run contests, quizzes or even a giveaways to those who re-tweet or mention your products or online shop. Promote your blog posts every time you post to drive that all-important traffic your way. Offer guest blog posts to industry taste-makers to try to pull their audience in.

Try to interact every day online in some capacity, and you will see your audience and user lists grow accordingly. You will also find that social media will help improve branding strategies and improve your site's visibility to search engines.

4) Check Out the Competition

If your competition has a presence online, there's no reason you can't keep tabs on what they're doing. Keep an eye on how their promotions are working, and try to follow and interact with those who are regularly interacting with them. It's essentially free research, and doesn't cost you any time or money.

The SEO company, Everspark Interactive, encourages businesses to "constantly utilize social media platforms because they can help you edge out your competition, as well as bring traffic to your website and help market the product in a new and exciting way".

5) Consider Using Videos

YouTube has become one of the most used sites on the planet, and people are sharing videos every day on all social media platforms. In fact, if you create a video that goes viral, you could see traffic to your site increase immensely. By creating a video channel and sharing your videos with your audience, YouTube can be the next frontier in your social networking plan.

In the world of business, the importance of social media and networking can't be denied. By using this marketing tool to your advantage, you can reach your target audience and interact with them on a nearly daily basis.

Former news reporter Nicole Bailey-Covin has worked with small businesses seeking SEO direction. Internet marketing firms like Everspark Interactive can help you find marketing success using social media.


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