How to master your social media in 2015

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/freedigitalphotos.net


Any blog post I have written about social media has always been popular. This popularity is for good reason – it’s a highly effective tool for small to medium enterprises (SMEs) but it also can seem a little overwhelming.
I have written previous posts on the importance of having a social media presence and what social media platforms are best for your target market, as well as how to create valuable content.
Here I wanted to give you updates on some of the latest research on social media in Australia coming from the Yellow Pages Social Media Report 2014.
Here is my latest overview of the main social media networks and the demographics of social media users for each network.
The most interesting finding in this report was that 38% of SMEs that used social media reported increased sales, compared to 28% of those that didn’t.
Additionally SMEs with social media were also more likely to report increases in
profitability (35% compared to 22%) and increasing employment (13% compared to 7%).
The highlights from the latest report are as follows:
  • 71% of social media users are accessing it via a smartphone
  • 49% of people are researching clothing or fashion
  • 43% are researching electrical goods
  • 29% are researching furniture homewares
  • 46% of internet users access social media every day
  • 71% of 20-29-year-old internet users access social media every day
  • 45% of social media users turned off Twitter over the last 12 months
  • 19% dropped Facebook
  • 58% of social media users are accessing it after work (around 6.30pm)
  • More than four in 10 social media users reported using social media while watching television
  • News and current affairs was most popular genre for social networking while watching TV, followed by dramas
  • Almost three in 10 of those that used social media while watching television reported discussing the programs on social media while they were on
  • 63% of social media users researching a product or service on social media led to a purchase
  • With 47% of the resultant purchases made online
  • 33% of social media users follow brands or businesses
  • The majority of those following brands or businesses wants discounts or giveways followed by product info
  • Overall 30% of social media users have provided online ratings in the past year
  • Online reviews are mainly for accommodation, restaurants/bars, holiday destinations, stores, movies and mobile apps
  • On average, social media users read three reviews/blogs before making a purchase decision.
So here is an updated overview of the networks and who is using each of them, as well as post ideas for a sample cat grooming and breeding business to illustrate how to use each network.
Facebook
Facebook can be likened to a journal. If you only want to be active on one social media network, Facebook is the best choice for most businesses (though this can change for some businesses depending on their industry and target market).
Users create a personal profile, add other users as friends, exchange messages and photographs and receive automatic notifications when their friends update their profiles. Businesses can create company ‘pages’ that Facebook users can ‘like’, which means they will receive notifications of any updates to the company page. Updates appear on users’ newsfeed. Additionally, users may join common-interest user groups, organised by workplace, school or college, or other characteristics.
User demographics
  • 95% of users of social media use Facebook
  • Slightly preferred by females
  • 100% of 65+ social media users, use Facebook (they were the lowest user group in 2013)
  • Lowest user age groups are 40-49 year-olds at 92%
  • Used in metropolitan and regional areas but slightly preferred by regional.
Industry/business types
Facebook suits pretty much every type of industry and business, though fashion/clothing and sporting clubs represent the most brands/businesses followed on Facebook. It suits fast moving consumer goods.
How to use it
Businesses need to create a Facebook ‘page’. They need to be careful they are not creating a ‘personal’ profile, as this will limit functionality and ability of any users wanting to like your page.
Aim to update it around once a day. Frequency will depend on how engaged your audience is and when they are most likely to check Facebook. You can get a feel for the best times to post by checking your engagement statistics available via Facebook’s built-in analytics (it appears on the Admin panel on Facebook Pages).
The cat post
Here is a happy snap of my cat; Here is a picture of a cat groomed for cat show; Here is a touching story about a cat who saved his owner from a house fire; Here is a link to a funny cat video; Here is a funny cat picture; One day only 50% off voucher on cat products at our store
Twitter
Twitter users share ‘tweets’ or updates/comments/insights or links to other web content in 140 characters or less. You can also upload photos. It is immediate, real time news and opinions.
Users can follow other users if they want to be notified of updates in their Twitter feed. Users can ‘retweet’ content they like.
Hashtags are used to categorise content using keywords or trending topics.
User demographics
  • 19.5% of users of social media use Twitter
  • Preferred by males (25% males vs 14% females)
  • Majority of users aged 20-64 (20-29 is the largest user group followed by 30-39)
  • Predominately used in metropolitan areas
  • Twitter is very popular with celebrities, politicians and big brands. It can suit most businesses and industries as long as they are prepared to stay active on it.
How to use it
Due to the immediacy of twitter, prolific users may update several times a day or several times an hour. Brands that want to appear at the top of a newsfeed may re-post the same content over and over again. It is much better to tweak any content before re-posting. Try and establish when the best time of day for your business is to tweet. Do this by checking when people are engaging the most with your content.
Use hashtags for popular topics or trends but don’t overuse them.
The cat post
#my cat; link to newstory about cat that saves owner from burning house; funny quote about cats; short comment and/or link to laws requiring cats to be registered with local council; comment on cat story on #Bondi Vet TV show
LinkedIn
In many ways LinkedIn can be likened to an online resume. Users create a personal profile listing their current and past jobs, experience, skills and achievements. You ‘connect’ with other users and can endorse users for particular skills. You can also recommend or give a testimonial for users. Businesses can create company pages that other users can follow. You can also join groups where topics can be posted and you can join the discussion. Many jobs are posted on LinkedIn and companies have been known to recruit via LinkedIn by searching for users with particular experience or skills sets.
User demographics
  • 24.5% of users of social media use LinkedIn
  • Preferred by males (28% vs 21%)
  • Largely higher educated and higher income users
  • Majority of users aged 20-64 (30-39 is the largest user group)
  • Predominately used in metropolitan areas.
Industry/business types
Predominately used by white-collar professionals. It is an important tool for any business that relies heavily on networking, business-to-business and cross-industry contacts.
How to use it
Ensure your personal profile and company page are kept up-to-date at all times. Endorse the skills of ‘connections’ with the hope they will endorse you back. Post updates such as links to relevant industry news, reposts to other people’s content or you own comments. Nominate topics for discussion and participate in discussion where you can add value. You want to be perceived as being an expert in your field.
Post updates on average 1-3 times a week. Don’t overdo your posts as you don’t want to clog up your connections inbox; many of your connections are likely to be very, very busy people.
Only make connections with people who you genuinely want to connect with. It should be a mutually beneficial connection. Don’t just connect with strangers to boost your connection number.
The cat post
My skills include: grooming cats, animal welfare, breeding cats; Join a cat breeding association group and participate in discussions; Follow relevant industry company pages; Here is a link to a story on requirements for cat registration.
Instagram
Instagram is an online photo-sharing, video-sharing and social networking service that enables its users to take pictures and videos, apply digital filters to them, and share them on a variety of social networking services, such as Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr. A distinctive feature is that it confines photos to a square shape, similar to Kodak Instamatic and Polaroid images, in contrast to the 16:9 aspect ratio now typically used by mobile device cameras. Users are also able to record and share short videos lasting for up to 15 seconds.
The service was acquired by Facebook in April 2012. 
User demographics
  • 21% of users of social media use Instagram
  • Preferred by females (30% vs 12%)
  • Most heavily used by under 30s
  • By far the majority of users are aged 14-29 (14-19 is the largest user group at 53%)
  • Use is spread almost equally across metropolitan and regional areas.
Industry/business types
As a visually based tool it is best used for creative industries or businesses that can provide interesting visuals. If your target market is 29 or under, particularly under 20 but you are not in a creative industry, you would benefit from creating visual opportunities in your work to engage this audience.
How to use it
The beauty of Instagram is that you don’t need brilliant, or professional images to make an impact, as you can use one of its many filters to spruce up an image. Take photos of visually interesting or entertaining items or people; showcase your products, clients, business or items related to your industry or interests.
If your industry is suited to this visual platform, aim to post images to your Instagram account or share on other platforms around once a day. However take your cues from your followers, as to how often they are engaging with the images. If your Instagram account is not your primary social media account you may like to use it less often, even once a week.
The cat post
Here is an arty vintage-style pic of me and my cat.
Pinterest
Pinterest is a pinboard-style photo-sharing website that allows users to create and manage theme-based image collections such as events, interests and hobbies. Users can browse or follow other pinboards for images, ‘re-pin’ images to their own pinboards, or like photos.
User demographics
  • 11.5% of users of social media use Pinterest. Usage is growing rapidly (it was only 6% in 2013).
  • Especially popular among women and mums (17% of female social media users compared to 6% of males)
  • The majority of users are aged 20-64 (20-29 is the largest user group followed by 30-49)*
  • Used two times more in metropolitan areas compared to regional.
Industry/business types
As a visually based tool it is best used for creative industries or businesses that can provide interesting visuals. If your target market is women but you are not in a creative industry, you would benefit from creating visual opportunities in your work to engage this audience.
The most popular categories are food and drink, DIY and crafts, women’s apparel and fashion, home décor and travel. Where possible it’s a great idea to include price on any products you feature.
How to use it
The focus is on beautiful images (mainly of things. People are not usually the focus of the images). Take photos of visually interesting or entertaining items; showcase your products or items related to your industry or interests.
If your industry is suited to this visual platform, aim to post images to your Pinterest account or share on other platforms around once a day. However take your cues from your followers, as to how often they are engaging with the images. If your Pinterest account is not your primary social media account you may like to use it less often, even once a week.
The cat post
A collection of my favourite cat images and cat products.
YouTube
YouTube is a video-sharing website on which users can upload, view and share videos. Video content includes video clips, TV clips, and music videos, and amateur content such as video blogging, short original videos, instructional and educational videos. There are also dedicated YouTube channels, which can be free to access or available via online subscriptions.
User demographics
  • 48.7 million users as at February 2013
  • >880 million users globally, >10 million Australian users (as at 2012)
  • Usage is spread almost equally across males and females (a slight preference by men)
  • The majority of users are aged under 18 or 45-54-years-old.
Industry/business types
YouTube can suit every business/industry. Due to the popularity and viral nature of YouTube, as well as search engine optimisation benefits, every business should look for opportunities to engage in YouTube.
How to use it
Create instructional, educational or entertaining videos and upload to YouTube. You can film Q&As with a staff member or industry expert. You can film a presentation from a staff member or industry expert. You can provide video on how to use your product. Provide links on social media accounts and on your website.  Depending on your resources, aim to create a new video anywhere between once a week and once a month.
The cat post
Cat playing a piano; An instructional video on how to groom a cat.
Google+
Google+ is a social networking service from Google. The idea is pretty similar to other social networking services, though Google+ aims to allow more transparency in who you share with and how you interact. It also integrates all Google services and displays a new Google+ menu bar on other Google services when you’re logged into a Google account.
Google+ also incorporates components such as Circles and Hangouts. Circles are personalised social circles based on work or personal interests. You can choose more easily what you want to share with who. Google+ users can also make public feeds visible to everyone (even those without accounts) and open to comments from other Google+ users. Hangouts allows you to signal availability for video chat and instant messaging. It also allows for group chats.
User demographics
  • 20% of users of social media have a Google+ account
  • Almost equal use by males and females
  • Growing in popularity in younger age groups. The majority of users are 14-19
  • Use is spread almost equally across metropolitan and regional areas.
Industry/business types
It can be used effectively by any industry or business type. While many businesses don’t use all of the features and post that regularly on this platform, it’s worth the effort from a search engine optimisation point of view.
How to use it
Post and share interesting content, join communities, create circles and host hangouts. Aim to update it around once a day. Frequency will depend on how engaged your audience is.
The cat post
Host a hangout with other cat breeders; Join a cat breeders community.
Snapchat
Snapchat is a photo messaging application where users take photographs or video ‘snaps’ and set a time limit for how long recipient or group of recipients can view their snaps. After the time limit, the snap will be deleted from the recipient’s device and Snapchat’s servers.
It has received some bad press for it association with users sending inappropriate pictures. However many businesses are embracing it as a valid social media tool, especially for younger demographics.
User demographics
  • 16% of social media users have a Snapchat account
  • The main demographic is 14-19 years of age, followed by 20-29-years-old
  • 0% of 50+ social media users had a Snapchat account
  • Preferred by females
  • Slight preference in regional areas.
Industry/business types
This is most suited to industries or businesses that have a teenager or young adult target market. It is extremely popular with younger audiences wanting to share pics and videos with family and friends and not have those images come back to haunt them later.
How to use it
Snapchat offers a sense of urgency, which is appealing to brands and marketers. It can be used to announce contests, offer exclusive or immediate giveaways or discounts, offer a sneak peek at a product or behind the scenes images.
The cat post
Limited time offer to get 50% off cat grooming services.
Other social networks
There are literally hundreds of different social networks to choose from that may be appropriate for your business. Some are industry specific or for niche interests. Some of them may be industry or business directories, such as TrueLocal, that allow for user reviews.
Here are some other popular networks or sites.
  • Tumblr is a microblogging platform particularly popular with teenagers and young adults wanting to express themselves.
  • Myspace has a heavy focus on music and other creative industries.
  • Foursquare uses geolocation to share information on where you are. You can check into places and get offers from business for checking in. Popular with 35-54 year olds. Most appropriate for retail stores, bars, cafes and restaurants.
  • Yelp is a business review site with social networking features, discounts, and mobile applications. It is particularly good for bars, cafes and restaurants and other services
  • TripAdvisor is a travel website providing directory information and reviews of travel-related content. It also includes interactive travel forums. 

Find out more on how to use social media and get help to manage your social media presence from Kylie Fennell .
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