Figuring Out Your Social Media Strategy

Trying to know who your audience is online is really hard. You don’t have subscriber data like a magazine or newspaper has. You can run a poll, but any opt-in poll will have skewed results.

You can figure some things out however by the behavior patterns of your users. Here are things I’ve observed over time about readers on my site:

  1. They don’t comment much. There isn’t much to say about a photo and unless you’ve been to a destination it is hard to add anything to the conversation.
  2. They don’t use LinkedIn. Or perhaps to be more accurate, they do not use LinkedIn as a platform to share content. My LinkedIn traffic was so low, I ceased putting a button on my site.
  3. They don’t have blogs. Most of my commenters do not fill out the URL section of the comment form. They are not necessarily content creators.
  4. They don’t use Google+. Like the LinkedIn button, I took the +1 button off my site. I’ve gotten very little in terms of traction on Google+.
  5. They do use Facebook. Facebook has been blowing up for me. My fan page growth had been increasing and the number of shares and likes I’m getting has been going up too.

All these facts fit a profile for a very casual, normal internet user. They are not bloggers, power users or influencers. Most of the people Klout tells me I influence have very, very low scores (yes, I know Klout is stupid but we are talking about scores below 20 and it is just one data point which confirms the others.)

In the last week I’ve had two posts which have gotten over 100 Facebook shares in under 24 hours. Neither were controversial or big pillar articles.

Contrast this to a recent article by Brian Solis:

  • 218 LinkedIn shares
  • 35 Facebook shares

Brian writes about social media, marketing and business. His audience are internet savvy people who are probably content creators. He is crushing on LinkedIn and Twitter but his Facebook shares are less than mine. As far as I can tell he doesn’t have a fan page and hasn’t turned on subscriptions for his personal page.

For his audience, I think what he is doing makes sense. I think everyone needs to figure out what their audience is using and optimize for that. I’m guessing a business site like might have better results with LinkedIn, even though it is also travel focused.

Add to this another tidbit that I’ve heard from some people which I think makes sense: The more options you put on a page, the more confusing you make it for a user. Putting every single social media button on a page makes it more likely that someone will do nothing rather than share it.

I’m even considering removing the retweet button if I find that people aren’t using it. My hunch is the most people are retweeting directly in Twitter, not from the button.

The data is telling me to double down on Facebook. I’m probably going to implement Facebook comments in the near future. I have only heard good things from those who have adopted it.

Play to your strengths, don’t promote your weaknesses.

By Gary

3 dimples. 7 continents. 130 countries.

9 replies on “Figuring Out Your Social Media Strategy”

As someone very new to blogging I find your points very interesting. I think using a few forms of social media is fine but not all. At the moment I am using Twitter & travel forums to try to drum up interest… I guess asides from creating interesting/ useful content the next part is finding an audience to look at it!

I am very interested in the use of social media in the travel industry, I have a Facebook account, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ and a blog on Blogger. I use Facebook for personal social media, couldn’t be asked to figure out the whole Google + thing so I’m not really using it, I think LinkedIn is more for professionals: people who seek for a job or people who are offering jobs and want an inside on the candidates. The only thing that I find related to the industry is Twitter so in my opinion you should definitely keep that!

Great analysis, Gary. I think it makes sense to periodically assess all of our blogging business efforts, especially when it comes to social media. There’s no sense wasting time on something that isn’t producing.

I’d like to see more likes and shares on my Facebook page posts. Are you doing anything to encourage likes and shares or is it happening organically?

Good point about cluttering up the page with too many “social media” buttons. I pared ours down to one–a Twitter “follow” button–because our readers are more likely to thank or praise us by e-mail than click a Facebook “Like” or Google+ button. I’m sure that many of our readers are Facebook members, but apparently they aren’t in a social-networking mindset when they’re researching their vacations. Or maybe they’re just embarrassed to “Like” us publicly. (Which seems odd–do we look like drug dealers or lap dancers?)

RE facebook comments – I was originally going to go that way for T5, I even had it implemented up to a few days before launch. There were two reasons I didn’t:

1. No comment count API. Without an API there’s no way for me to hook into the comment count and display it elsewhere on the site, or use it in an algorithm (the trending-posts algorithm on T5 for example)

2. You can only moderate comment *through* facebook, and the UI to do that is clunky as all-hell.

If I could solve those 2 things, I’d use FB comments and nothing else!

Interesting points Gary! I’ve implemented Facebook comments on my site and when I was posting regularly, it seemed to really generate a lot of interaction. However, the plugin breaks a lot and often isn’t working. When that happens, my overall commenting goes down significantly. So I still have disqus commenting enabled. I like that with both, I can easily reply to commenters and that starts a discussion.

I think your last line is what really sticks with me and will make me examine my sharing buttons, etc. I agree: “Play to your strengths, don’t promote your weaknesses.”

An advice to everybody; use a facebook likebox on your website. On this way you can easily earn a lot of likes for your website which helps your rank in Google!

Interesting point about the facebook comments. A lot of my comments come from other people with websites, but a huge amount of traffic comes from facebook. I wonder if I had facebook comments if it would generate more comments?

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