Where is your online audience?

It is easy to say that your audience is online, but where online is your audience? Contrary to popular belief not everyone is on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn and even if they are, is your audience engaging or do they just have an account for the sake of having one?  Where your audience is often depends on what your business is and who you are trying to reach; for example a plumber may not have as much success on Pinterest as say a florist because their audiences are not the same.

Before you Start

Before creating that Facebook page or Twitter account ask yourself the following questions:

  • Who is your target audience?
  • Who is your ideal client or customer? Are your audience teenagers, post-secondary students, parents or seniors? Are they small business owners, contractors or teaching professionals? Ask yourself who will express the most interest in your product or service. Who do you want to reach? This will help you determine where your audience is “hanging out” online.
  • What kind of content best suits your audience?
  • Do you want to post pictures, video or text? When thinking about what kind of content you would like to post, it is not only important to consider what kind, but also your time constraints. Writing a sentence or two about your business takes a lot less time than creating videos about it, even though video may be more beneficial to your business’ overall marketing plan.

Where to Start

A quick Google search will result in a plethora of websites all claiming to know what social networks various audiences are using, but the best way to know for sure is to test a network yourself.  Start with one or two social networks and give yourself time to build up your audience by engaging and posting quality content.


Every business has a competitor. Look them up online – what social networks are they on? Which ones are getting the most engagement? How are they drawing engagement – what is their main source of content, pictures, video or something else? Also look at their website, is there anything that differentiates them from competitors, including you?

How do you know what social networks to test?

Think about it. Is your business visually based, i.e. a florist, makeup artist, cake decorator or photographer? If so then you want to start with visually-based social networks such as Instagram and Pinterest where you can post images of your work.

If your business has to do with writing, editing, or bookkeeping you might want to look at conversational social networks such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn where you can post tips, articles and advice. 

And if your business is more hands-on or instructional, such as a life coach, chef or nutritionist than you may not only want to look at places like Twitter and Facebook where you can start a conversation and give advice, but you might want to also create videos on YouTube, Instagram, Vine and also pin them to Pinterest.

There are no fool-proof guidelines as to what social network will work for your business. Sometimes what works for one business, will not work for another – even if they are the same kind of business.  Remember – your audience is not the same as my audience. While finding the right audience has always been challenging, it’s never been easier to build one, as long as you’re willing spend the time, be patient, keep track of the results, and be persistent.

How did you find your target audience? Leave us a comment and tell us how and where you’ve targeted your audience(s) and how well it’s worked for you.

Should you be on Twitter?

Recently people have noticed that I’m not talking about Twitter very much. They’re right – I’m not. Is it because I don’t think Twitter is a good tool any more? No. It’s because for most of the people I’m talking to, I just don’t think it’s the right tool for them. At least not in the beginning.

I love Twitter. Don’t get me wrong, I think it has huge potential and can make a lot of difference in any business, but I also think that it is one of the tools that requires the most time and effort to do well. I know how busy business owners are, and when they are just starting to use social media they aren’t going to be ready for the time commitment required to take advantage of the potential on Twitter. 

I’ll elaborate a bit more on why:

Twitter is about relationships

Most people think that Twitter is about telling the world what you had for lunch (by the way – I totally think you SHOULD do that). But it’s also so much more than that. Twitter is an opportunity to have conversations. It’s about interacting with other people. It’s about sharing ideas and thoughts, and learning from experts.

While some people use Twitter as a newsfeed, so many more only pay attention to the people they know and have built relationships with. If you aren’t talking to people, you’re never going to be one of the people others are really paying attention to.

Short story:  Last week I was at the Canadian Hard of Hearing Association National Conference in Toronto and I met a ton of great people. How can you build a relationship a step beyond meeting in person? How about a selfie, that you tweet and tag? It’s the small things that help build relationships.

Twitter is about getting to know people 

Did you know that Karen and I met on Twitter? There are so many opportunities to find the kind of people you’re looking for. Maybe those are customers, maybe they are people to partner with, maybe they are mentors. The point is that you can find and have conversations with and really get to know people you never would have had access to before.

Twitter is an amazing networking tool. I’ve made friends, I’ve gotten media coverage, and I’ve gotten clients by getting to know people and having regular conversations there. This takes a lot of time. It can be well worth it, but it’s going to take a commitment far beyond sending out a few tweets a day.

It takes a lot of effort to filter through the noise

Most people follow a lot of other people on Twitter. I follow about 3500 people and if I didn’t use lists I would never see the content that I want to see. 

Why don’t I just unfollow everyone but the people I’m interested in? Because I have different interests on different days. By following lots of people and by creating special lists for different interests, cities, topics, etc., I can spend my time on Twitter talking to and about the things I’m focusing on at that moment.

It takes a lot of time to set up those lists and filters, but once it’s done your time on Twitter is much better spent. 

So, should you be on Twitter?

If you’re new to social media and you feel intimidated by the idea of spending time on Twitter every day, it may not be the right starting place for you (I still think you can get off to a great start in ten minutes a day, but you’ll do better with a bigger commitment).

If you aren’t the kind of person who likes to chit chat, it might not be the place for you. 

If you’re looking for opportunities to network, find new communities and really jump in to conversations, you absolutely should and there are tons of great opportunities for you. 

Not every social media channel makes sense as a starting place for every person.  Figure out where your audience is and what you feel comfortable with. That may or may not be Twitter - and that’s okay!

Crazy for Twitter chats

Lately we’ve been taking part in a lot of Twitter chats. In fact, they’re currently my favourite way to spend time on Twitter. So, today I thought I would tell you a bit about what Twitter chats are and why I think they’re so great. 

What is a Twitter chat?

A Twitter chat is a scheduled time (usually one hour) when people get together on Twitter to discuss a topic. They do this by using one specific hashtag. By using a hashtag, people can read only the tweets that have that one hashtag for the duration of the hour, and get to talk about all kinds of interesting topics with a group of people also interested in that topic.

How do you filter out tweets with a specific hashtag?

There are various ways to do this:   

  • The simplest way is to click on the hashtag in one tweet. It will pull up all the other tweets with that hashtag. You can then keep refreshing this list.

  • Create a stream for your hashtag. This is similar to the first way of doing this, but you can create a permanent stream in a tool like Tweetdeck or Hootsuite to follow a hashtag. 

  • Tweetchat is an online tool built for you to log in to and follow a specific hashtag. It also automatically populates all your tweets with the hashtag so you don’t have to keep re-typing it.

  • Nurph is very similar to Tweetchat, but it has a few add ons I really like, including retweeting and a playback feature.   

What do you talk about?

During a Twitter chat there is a host (or several hosts) who tweet out a series of questions. Anyone can then answer these questions. People often start breaking off into discussions with each other over the answers to those questions.

A Twitter chat is a great opportunity to learn more about a topic and find other people who are interested in that subject.

What’s in it for me?

  • Twitter chats are a great place to find people who are like-minded. By finding a chat that is centered in your industry you have the opportunity to connect with all kinds of new people that you could end up working with.
  • Twitter chats are a great place to learn. I take part in a lot of business related chats and I get to learn from the people hosting the chats as well as all of the other people taking part. They often have great insights into topics I don’t know a lot about or they broaden my knowledge on that topic.
  • Twitter chats are a great place to prove your expertise. By taking part in a chat about a topic that is of interest to your audience, you can show that you know what you’re talking about and that you’re worth following and getting to know better.

Twitter chats are too fast - how do I keep up?

Twitter chats ARE fast - no doubt about it. Here are a couple of tips to help you ease your way in:

1) If Twitter chats feel overwhelming, watch a couple of chats before trying to take part. Most chats have a rhythm and once you’ve witnessed a couple you should start to feel comfortable jumping in. You can even check out a past chat on Nurph and watch it at the speed that feels most comfortable to you.

2) Don’t worry if you can’t read all the tweets. Do your best and then skip to the next question. 

Give one a try!

There are so many reasons that Twitter chats are great. Google search for twitter chats in your industry or ask your friends if they take part in any chats and check one out. They are a lot of fun and they have led to not only a lot of learning and making new friends, but to new clients and sales for us. We’re having a Twitter chat for Social Capital this coming Thursday at 1:30pm too - we’d love to have you join us with hashtag #socapott.

The Twitter rule of thirds

I’m not a huge fan of saying there are “rules” in using social media, but “guideline of thirds” sounds a bit silly. We encourage the Twitter rule of thirds because it’s easy to remember - we’re all about keepin’ it simple.

Here’s the thing: there are three important things you will want to do if you want to grow a community through Twitter. These three things are listed in the priority order but 3 (promote) should never be more than a third of your total tweets. 

1) Talk to people.

Social is the most important word in “social media”. Be personable. Do a little networking. Jump in to conversations. Every one of these suggestions is the right way to use Twitter - even if it goes against the IRL (in real life) manners that are ingrained in you. Don’t let that stop you from getting the most you can out of using Twitter. You can have five different conversations going on at once if you want. You can answer right away or two days later. Conversation on Twitter is more flexible than conversation you’ll find in any other forum.

2) Share other people’s content.

You are one of millions and millions of really smart people using Twitter to share really smart content. I bet your audience will find value in things that aren’t written by you - the same way you find it valuable. So, why not share it? It can even be content from a competitor. Or, rather, someone else who has a similar business. We share valuable content from other consultants all the time.

3) Promote your own content.

You’re working hard to build great content that’s useful to others, so promoting it is the best way for you to help the right people find it. Don’t be shy about sharing your original content. You just don’t want that to be the only thing you do.

The Twitter rule of thirds will help you stay cognizant of how much you’re networking, sharing and promoting and that you’re using Twitter to its full potential - to build relationships.

What personal guidelines do you have for using Twitter?

A Simple Start to using social media for your small business

“Social media for your small business”

Does that phrase make you a bit anxious?  If it does, you aren’t alone.

Social media for small business is important, but it doesn’t have to be stressful or overwhelming.  The key is to start slowly and with intent.

Simple Start

We spend a lot of time working with small business owners and we wanted to come up with a way for people to break down what needs to happen to start having a social media presence into small and manageable parts. Our answer is a brand new program called Simple Start. 

What is Simple Start? 

It’s starting slowly. 

It’s committing ten minutes a day for a month.

It’s creating a consistent presence on one channel by spending time thinking about: 

  • who you are,
  • what you do,
  • who you’re talking to, and
  • what they want to hear.

What do I do?

Block off ten minutes a day for the next month and commit to the following: 

  • Figure out what your goals are with social media. Are you hoping to attract new customers, make more sales, be more known?
  • Figure out who your target audience is.  I mean, really think about who they are and what they would want from you. It definitely isn’t “anyone who has money.” By speaking directly to one segment of the population you can create content that really connects to them, instead of writing content for everyone that connects with nobody.
  • Figure out what you want to say to them.  I know you have a lot say, but there are certain things that are more important than others for achieving your goals.  Know what they are.
  • Share useful information.  Be a valuable resource to people.
  • Find links to articles that your audience would like.  You don’t have to create everything you share.
  • Make a list of interesting pages on your web site to share with them.  Your web site is your home base, make sure you’re telling people they should go there sometimes.
  • Once you have a big chunk of content, start scheduling that content and interacting with people every day.

What will this do?

It’s going to make sure that what you’re saying online is actually going to help you achieve your goals.  It’s going to help you build relationships with people.  It’s going to help you stay top off mind with your customers and potential customers. 

It’s going to take the stress out of coming up with content on a daily basis.

Give it a try!

Commit to ten minutes a day and start getting ready to really wow your audience online.  Remember that what you’re saying has to be of value to your customer.  You aren’t trying to sell them anything and they aren’t there to do something for you.  You have to make them think you’re so awesome they can’t help but WANT to buy from you. You can do it!