Social Media Guide Part 1

Social media, a potentially daunting term. How do you harness it? What is the key? With the average Australian owning three internet enabled devices this is important for all businesses to be considering. The following is a breakdown of options in this field some you would be familiar with, others not so much.
Published on Aug 24 2015 by Brett Montgomery

This guide is not comprehensive as there are new networks popping up, shutting down or being acquired so often this is a landscape in a state of flux. Trying to keep pace can be tough but keeping an eye on what new channels your target audience is using can be a great way to get some free or at least very cheap marketing. Facebook’s aggressive initial model was based around gaining user growth. Initial access is free and mostly organic, meaning that getting in early can be a highly efficient way to deliver messages to your audience.


24% of social media users state the reason for use as to follow or find out about particular brands or businesses in general

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The Names You Know:

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Facebook (93% usage rate of those on social networks in Australia)

In brief: Modern Mass Communications

Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock you know this one. There are voices trying to state that Facebook is no longer cool, as parents (and even grandparents) have joined their digitally minded children on the network. However Facebook is a big time mass communication channel with 93% of Australians who are on social media having a profile. News, current events, keeping in touch with friends and family and entertainment are all common usage situations here. Sessions on the site are usually long with redirects more commonly taking place in app meaning that something catchy, viral or on trend is needed to hook people but when you catch your reader you can transfer reasonable amounts of information.

The Good:

  • Huge audience across many demographics

  • Advertising on Facebook has been around for such a long time now that users accept it, unlike newer network trying to monetise where a clunky insertion of ads makes for overt communications.

The Bad:

  • The free ride is well and truly over, organic reach on Facebook is a thing of the past. If you want to get your message in front of a large audience it will cost.

  • Advertising clutter. As users have become more accustomed to the advertising on Facebook they have also become more sophisticated in their ability to skim past and block out said advertising.

Users:

Encompasses just about everyone on a social network in Australia. Particularly useful if your target is a digitally savvy older segment.


 

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Twitter (17% usage rate of those on social networks in Australia)

In brief: Blogging in 140 characters or less.

Twitter was originally touted as being a global conversation, through the use of a simple # seeing what is trending and adding to that was accessible for all users. Keeping a finger on the pulse and watching trends in real time is pretty impressive, but what usefulness this platform can have for business is unclear.

Brand awareness appears to be the best use where virality is much easier to achieve with users likely to have a broader following than mere personal contacts. The PR opportunities of having a visible conversation and the ability to share an event as it happens on twitter can be a powerful tool and with the introduction of live video to the network through periscope the possibilities continue to grow. Read more about the capabilities of periscope here. 

The Good:

  • Real time, it’s what this network revolves around everything as it happens

  • Can add value to the cost of events through broadcasting to a broader audience

  • Creates open dialogue with your audience with great potential for insights

The Bad:

  • Experiencing the biggest decline in users of any social media network within Australia.

  • Twitter is a content pit, as the feed updates continuously a high number of posts (or some money) is required to get an even spread.  

  • Many communications have entered the twittersphere to be hijacked and steered far from their original intent very quickly.

Users:

Most likely male 18-39 declining in recent years, low engagement.


linkedin

LinkedIn (28% usage rate of those on social networks in Australia)

In Brief: Not just job postings.

LinkedIn is a network that allows users to keep track of companies and industries they are interested in through its feed. Due to this nature communications through this channel are less likely to be ignored as users have already indicated an interest in companies through following them. However, the network appears to be much more conducive to a soft sell and brand reputation building than the hard sell traditional advertising strategy that can be used for networks such as Facebook.

The Good:

  • Showcasing what your business is up to is something that followers of your company are likely to actually be seeking here, making for a more receptive audience

  • Affluent professional user base makes for a profitable market segment

The Bad:

  • More Male users than Female, potentially a positive or negative depending on desired audience, but for non gender specific offerings this may not be the best channel.

  • Time per session for the network is lower than even Instagram, a concern for a site that is much more text and content focused than visual.  

Users:

Most likely Male but unlike Twitter the age range of users is a bit higher on the scale with a third of users in each of the 30-39, 40-49 and 50-64 age brackets and slightly less in the 18-29.


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Instagram (26% usage rate of those on social networks in Australia)

In Brief: A visually pleasing up and comer.

Instagram originally a feed of photos with a range of borders and retro filters. Currently, a subsidiary of Facebook we have seen video integrated into the stream. Instagram has proved to be wildly popular with younger people across the world, and has also been a great platform for social influencers to subtly and not so subtly spruke the wears of companies who back them. Instagram users are frequently checking what has popped into their feeds with the average user on the network 25 times a week. With the recent introduction of sponsored posts it will be interesting to see how users reach, so far the number of posts pushed into feeds appears limited potentially a sign that this is an unpopular delivery method. Use of Instagram influencers is a proven successful strategy but needs a deft touch, alignment with the right personalities being the key. For more on how to use influencers for marketing see here.

The Good:

  • Ability to view posts by location now gives a great insight into what users near business are posting

  • Growing number of users

  • Visual platform that creating content for can be relatively easy and low cost

  • Easy to promote tangible goods through influencers

The Bad:

  • With the introduction of sponsored posts the end of organic reach may be on the near horizon

  • If your target audience is over 30 you’re wasting your time

Users: Under 30 (highest penetration in the 18-29 segment behind Facebook) even gender split.

Looking at this ‘big four’ it may seem clear cut that Facebook is the way to go, with the greatest volume of users and high amount of activity per user the case could be made easily. However, despite smaller audiences use of a smaller network can yield a stronger engagement of your audience. Looking at the options a good strategy will be more than simply chasing the biggest audience. The suitability of the audience a network has and which channel will best showcase your business are key pieces to this puzzle.  

Next time:

The new names and smaller players in social you may or may not know.

The Sensis Social Media Report 2015 was used to source data and insights for this post, available here.