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How Social Are Your Customers?

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How social are your customers, really? In our industry it seems this question is asked and answered a lot, but clients still have a hard time understanding exactly how social their customers are.

Their confusion usually stems from lack of knowledge on where customers are concentrated so they can effectively target their efforts, a possible disconnect with demographic data, not knowing how much customers participate, and not knowing where to get the right information about their customers. Let's examine each of these areas, and try to effectively figure out just how social your customers really are.

Where Are Your Customers?

The most important factor when developing a social media marketing strategy is figuring out where your customers are. Follow them, and be there to engage with them wherever that may be.

So let's figure it out where they are. Here are a few ways to accomplish this task:

  • Sites like Flowtown and Rapleaf use the information you already have on hand for your customers: their e-mail addresses. They then pull through information from leading social networking sites to see how many of your customers are concentrated on each site. You can use this information to help you determine which site you should focus your efforts on, and to prove to your boss that your customers are on social networking sites.

  • Sites like Quantcast provide a plethora of data regarding the segmentation of users on each social networking site: gender, age, race, income level, education level, etc. If you already know a great deal about who your customers are, you can easily figure out which site(s) they flock to.

  • Look at research and marketing studies put together by Forrester, Marketing Hub, Pingdom, and others. One worth looking at studied the ages of social networking users. This helpful infographic shows the age distribution of social media users per site. Use the information to determine where the highest concentration of your customers are located.

  • Get insider tips from experts by doing a simple Google search. Also, follow experts like Jay Baer, who wrote this great blog post, "4 Detective Tricks to Find Your Customers in Social Media." His suggestions include looking at your customers' e-mail behavior, stalking them on Gmail, and (easiest of all) asking your customers what social sites they frequent.

This may seem like a long laundry list of places to go for information to figure out where your customers are, but as with anything: nothing easy is worthwhile. You really need to dive into the minds of your customers, the offerings of each social networking site, and data contained therein. The information will help you take the first step of figuring out how social your customers are.

Do Your Customers Participate?

There are a few ways to determine if your customers actively participate in social media:

  • Groundwell's Consumer Profile Tool helps you figure out the social profile of your demographic. This information tells you how your customers utilize social media, which can help you determine how actively they participate online.

  • Diving in head first and actively searching through social networking sites, stalking some of your customers, and finding patterns in their communication practices will give you an idea as to how active they are.

  • Understanding what motivates people to participate in social media can help you decide if your customers have the characteristics of those who participate.

At this point you should have a good idea how social your customers are. For some industries, you may discover that your customers don't actively participate on social networking sites. That's not to say that you should just bow out now, however. Monitoring trends and making sure you know when your customers go social is also important.

Following experts in the industry, looking at research and marketing studies, and continually evaluating your customer demographic data are always good ideas, and will keep you up to date on all your social media marketing efforts.

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