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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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+.
- 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:
- 513 retweets
- 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 Tnooz.com 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.