As always I expect a certain amount of backlash for using a controversial word “nipples” (in case you missed it) in the title of this post but my chill, laid-back, westcoast attitude thinks “meh, if it gets people to the content and that content helps them figure something out that’s not working in their own campaign, I’ve succeeded.”

So, before you get all bent out of shape about the title, read this piece, digest the info, offer up some constructive, useful, value-added advice in your comments. Saying “I don’t agree” makes you sound like a twerp and offers nothing to the reader. Think “value” when posting please.

I was running this morning with a friend of mine who owns a very popular brick and mortar company in our town. They, like so many other businesses, have appointed a member of their staff to take care of the social media marketing.

As the owner, she is un-involved with the process and wasn’t able to tell me what the appointee did on Twitter or Facebook. She just knew that her staff member was “using social media”.

Now, to be fair, they have had some success. They post daily and have 255 members on their FB page which isn’t too bad considering the size of the town.

From a marketing standpoint they’re doing ok. From a social media standpoint they have not even scratched the surface of the medium.

A strategist doesn’t just randomly post stuff to Facebook and Twitter and hope to attract the right people. With every new client a strategist is charged with the task of determining the demographic, identifying what they want to know/learn etc. Finding out what they’re talking about online. Where do they spend their money? What do they get from the site when they visit? Do they share information they’ve found with others? What are the competition doing and are they successfully engaging clients?

The list of questions goes on for quite some time. I would go so far as to say that the collection of data on the user is as important in social media as it is in traditional marketing. If you were to walk into an ad agency today and ask who’s buying counter-top composting machines (assuming they advertise for the company that sells them of course) they would be able to tell you, accurately, who their target market is.

The problem with a willy-nilly social media campaign is that the net is too big. Just putting out random information without identifying the market means that you hit people who don’t care what you’re doing. While that might sound ok, there’s a chance that, in doing so, you’re annoying people and since social media is a two-way conversation those annoyed people may just decide to lash out.

On the flip side, knowing who you’re selling to can be a great advantage in the marketplace. If I’m selling composting machines and I know that my biggest market are yuppies who live in the city I need to put information on my site that appeals to them. For example maybe I would have a blog article about how some big cities are using unique ways to deal with their waste. Or how Vancouver, BC has a Green Cities Initiative to become the greenest city on earth by 2020. Those are, quite likely, articles that would appeal to someone who is composting.

Strategically, knowing the demographic offers up a bunch of other advantages. A good example is Facebook. If you want to hit the 18-30 crowd you should probably post at 7pm or 8pm when they’re online. There are plenty of studies available online that will allow you to determine the best times to post to social media to get the most eyeballs in your desired demographic.

So, if you work at, or own a company that has assigned a staff member to “do” social media take a moment and find out how engaged your online community is. Are they commenting on your posts? Are they suggesting interesting articles? Are they re-tweeting, re-posting, re-marking to what you’re putting out there? If not then you may want to start thinking about bringing in a strategist that can help you on your way to significantly more engagement.

A really great way to determine this without putting a lot of effort into the process initially is simply ask yourself “are we providing value to the people visiting our website?” If the answer is no then you definitely need to speak to a strategist BEFORE you go it alone.

Written by jax