Originally posted on the Waggener Edstrom blog http://bit.ly/ZOpwoG
Recently I presented at Social Media Week in Singapore, on the topic of ‘Where Should You Be Social?’ The session proved very fruitful with more than 60 attendees taking part in an active discussion on how best to rationalize a personal or professional social presence.
The rapid rise of social media has left us with dozens of mainstream options for creating a social media profile, but it’s difficult to maintain a social life if all you do is manage social media all day. We talked about the need to concentrate efforts, either as an individual or a company, in the platforms that really matter. In short, the way to do this is to have clearly defined objectives, identify where the target audience is already active, and understand their motivations for using each platform.
The crux of the argument is that splitting a social presence across too many platforms is not only time consuming, but also ineffective and potentially damaging to one’s reputation or brand. We had all attendees complete a simple survey which backs up this hypothesis – the more platforms created, the lower the proportion actively managed.
- Everyone’s Everywhere: From a personal perspective, the vast majority (46%) have a presence on 6-10 platforms. A further 23% have a concentrated presence on 0-5 platforms, while as many as 17% have 16 or more profiles.
- More Presence, Less Activity People using 10 or less platforms tend to use 66% of their profiles on a very frequent basis (at least once every two days) with only 23% logged-into infrequently (less than once a fortnight). However, as more platforms are added, the usage becomes lower – those with more than 16 platforms use just 30% frequently while 57% are infrequent. Of these, a large amount of profiles are completely inactive, but still publicly discoverable.
- Conservative Professionals People are more conservative when it comes to business – 84% of respondents use 0-10 platforms professionally. Again, the utilization of platforms drops dramatically as volume increases. Users with 0-5 platforms access 48% of their profiles frequently and 19% infrequently, though these respectively fall and rise to 20% and 71% for users with more than 15 profiles.
Inactive and infrequently updated platforms aren’t going to do anything to advance a personal cause or brand reputation. In many instances, they are even going to be damaging as the owner is perceived as disorganized, uncommitted, or unaware. As such, it’s certainly better to have fewer platforms and use them more effectively.
- In the Lead: With regards to platform popularity, it’s unsurprising that Facebook comes out on top for both personal and professional use. It turns out that some people actually do not have a Facebook page with 94% using it personally, but a slightly lower 83% for business. What’s interesting is that business pages are used or updated much less frequently than personal pages – 90% and 52%, respectively.
- Who’s Popular? Other popular personal platforms include WhatsApp (90% use it, of which 85% do so frequently) and YouTube (81%, 63% frequently), while LinkedIn (56%, 25% frequently) and Skype (56%, 27% frequently) are utilized more often by businesses. Despite its continued growth, Twitter only comes in fourth for either use with 77% and 54% penetration in personal and business circles, respectively.
Brands need to reflect the consumption habits of their audiences to take full advantage of their social presence. For instance, the figures indicate that although YouTube is used on an almost daily basis by individuals, less than half of respondents have business accounts and nearly 75% of them fail to use the platform more than once a month. As such, it is often a missed opportunity.
That doesn’t necessarily mean that brands should simply concentrate their marketing efforts on the platforms most popular for personal use. The most important thing is understanding the audience’s motivations for using each platform – it’s unlikely that anyone wants to receive advertising through WhatsApp and, similarly, Facebook isn’t always the right place for marketing.
Our brief study shows that when it comes to managing a social presence, less is definitely more. Individuals and brands need to stick to the three golden rules (identify objectives, establish where the target audience is active, and understand their motivations) and build from the ground up, adding social platforms only when they are ready to pay them the attention they need. That’s the key to understanding where you should be social, and how to be successful when you get there.