Is there a specific one to start with?
Should you be on all?
We can dismiss the idea you have to be on all social platforms. It’s just not achievable, by anybody.
And I’m not going to tell you which platform you should use.., that will be up to you.
What I will do is try and give you a guide to make the best choice possible.
First of all, you need to experiment. It might not always be a 100% clear which platform suits your needs best. Therefor experimenting is almost necessary.
Don’t stick around waisting time and money when it seems your efforts do not bear any fruit. Although, keep in mind that it will take time and effort (and some money) to get things going.
The Rabbit Hole
A word of warning then.
Once you start down the social engament rabbit hole, and you do have success, you can’t get out.
You can grow and you can shrink, it will drive you mad and there is never enough time.., but you cannot stop.
A good way to start is by listening to the social buzz. If you represent a company, look for the company name. Where are people discussing, praising or complaining about you, if at all.
By listening you might eliminate profiling a demographic all together. You simply go where your name is.
If, for example, Twitter is being used to put your company under a microscope.., then that’s where you will engage with your clientele.
If you start from scratch (with a blog or a company), find keywords that reflect your niche best. The more specific you get with keywords, the more you narrow down the target.
You can use Addict-o-Matic or BrandMentions to get you started.
Profiling Your Niche
Then, if listening doesn’t give you enough results the next question to ask is, what is your target demographic?
(It doesn’t hurt to do this anyway.)
You need to figure out, almost exactly, who you want to reach.
- What age group
- What sex
- Level of education
- What industry (your niche)
- What country
There might be more questions that need answering, you have to filter it down.
To help you get going I will give you the one question you do not need to answer, what planet?
Just an example to show you how complex finding your demographic can be.
Who would be your demographic when writing a gardening blog?
As always, it depends.., what exactly do you do in your garden? Do you have an ornamental garden or do you grow your own food? Do you use permaculture and/or organic? Or do you create the perfect lawn and write only about that.
You can see that the kind of people you want to reach might vary as much as the subject of your writing. And consequently, the platforms on which they are active might vary just as much.
Pro, Tech, Kids, Games, etc.
And then the hole gets much deeper.
Finding out who you want to reach is one thing, where do you reach them is a bit tougher.
I won’t list all platforms here, the list is just too long and it would take me ages to describe them all and give you a breakdown of what they can do. But I’ll take a look at the biggest and hottest ones to give you an idea on the variety.
Let’s get cracking and let’s start with the most obvious and ubiquitous (I love that word).
1 billion registered users. According to BreathingEarth.net there are, at the moment of writing, 7.136.849.436 people on this planet and 1/7 of those have, apparently, a Facebook account.
To put that in perspective, if Facebook would be a country, it would be the third largest country in the world, right after India, with China leading.
So.., unless your niche is in a country where they banned Facebook.., you could say this one is a must.
Then again, it could very well be that your target audience is nowhere to be found on Facebook.
The Professionals reside here. Nowadays a company needs a presence on LinkedIn in order to stay current. It helps with exposure and recruiting. In Belgium it’s the fastest growing social platform.
Then again, if your focus lies in Germany, Austria or Switzerland, your time might be better spend on XING – Das professionelle Netzwerk, verstehst du?
We all Tweet away like there is no tomorrow. I’ve already Tweeted 4570 times. And for the love of anything, I can’t recall what it was all about.
Twitter invented microblogging, and is by know one of the largest social platforms. It’s difficult to ignore.
Then again, it could be your audience is young and is very active on Tumblr.
YouTube is the second largest search engine on the Web, right after Google. it makes sense that any video made is posted here. With the right keywords chances are you get plenty of hits.
Then again, if your audience French Dailymotion is a safer bet.
Pinterest is booming, it’s working nicely, growing fast and some people are spending way to much time on it. But it does have a fleeting feeling to it, like Twitter.
Then again, for professional photographers Flickr is (much) more respectful to copyright.
There are more places where people hang out. Forums are still very active and much used. As a Subject Matter Expert you might benefit a lot by being active on certain forums.
Also, dedicated community websites for Doctors or Musicians might be interesting. These websites might not even use a social platform to connect, maybe only to get some news out into the world, but most communication will happen within the community on the website.
It Goes to Show
Finding the right platform is a matter of research.
I only named a few (did not mention Google+, Reddit, Github, Vimeo, Ning, Orkut, Stumbleupon,Deviantart or Instagram), however, there is a niche for every conceivable past time and for every conceivable profession.
All you need to do is find out where they hang out.
Do you have any suggestions to add on finding the right social platform for your niche?