Expanding target markets through social media – Cape Cod Times

Question: I want to expand the target market for my business. What are some tools I can use to do that?

Answer: Most people grow frustrated with the constant infiltration of technology. People argue that it reduces from face-to-face interaction, and that it prevents them from living their lives out in the world, meeting new people, seeing new things and getting a well-rounded scope of life that is not through a screen. Looking at the glass half-full, however, technology provides us with the perfect platform to grab the attention of our consumers using social media.

Social media is a tool that can be very intimidating to people who are unfamiliar with its advantages and benefits. To break it down, the phrase “social media” is an umbrella term for the platforms that fall beneath it, including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter etc. Understanding the target market, purpose and features of these platforms can help you decide which one might be useful to your business and the new segment of consumers you are trying to reach.

Facebook: 47 percent of users are over 35

The world’s most popular social networking web site, Facebook enables users to connect with friends, family, and customers by sharing status updates, personal photos and other items of interest. Founder Mark Zuckerberg created Facebook in 2004 while a student at Harvard, designing the site as a means for other university students to communicate and to socialize online. The idea quickly spread from there and has become a global phenomenon, with more than 160 million users in the United States alone. Learning to leverage Facebook’s popularity can prove beneficial to your small business (smallbusiness.chron.com).

Instagram: 53 percent of users are between 18 and 29

Instagram allows users to edit and upload photos and short videos through a mobile app. Users can add a caption to each of their posts and use hashtags and location-based geotags to index these posts and make them searchable by other users within the app. Each post by a user appears on their followers’ Instagram feeds and can be viewed by the public when tagged using hashtags or geotags. Users also have the option of making their profile private so that only their followers can view their posts (searchcio.techtarget.com).

Twitter: 35 percent of users are between 18 and 29

Twitter is a free social networking microblogging service that allows registered members to broadcast short posts called tweets. Twitter members can broadcast tweets and follow other users’ tweets by using multiple platforms and devices. Tweets and replies to tweets can be sent by cellphone text message, desktop client or by posting at the Twitter.com website (whatitis.techtarget.com).

Depending on which age range of people you want to target, you can choose the social media platform that will best suit your business. Using Facebook will allow you to reach the 35-and-older audience. This would be great for targeting young families, seeing as most parents around this age use Facebook. Facebook would also be a good tool to target an older audience. Instagram provides access to the 18-29 year old audience. Young adults just starting out their careers or college students use Instagram very often, allowing you to reach them through this platform. Finally, Twitter also target the 18- to 29-year-olds, however it has a different purpose from Instagram. Twitter provides you with 280 character messages that you can send out to your followers. This would be a great tool for announcing new products, events or news within your business.

Understanding the scope of each social media platform can help you know which one to use for your business. Using social media in general is an important commitment in launching your business, however choosing the correct form of social media is even more important when attempting to expand your market. A 50-year-old customer is more likely to use Facebook rather than Twitter. If your business were looking to target 50-55 year old customers, then Facebook would be your best bet. In contrast, a 20-year-old will probably not flock to your business if you are only on Facebook. In this case, incorporating Instagram could be a good option.

Social media can be very overwhelming when looking at the bigger picture. That said, however, expanding a target market could be much easier with the implementation of this technology tool. After breaking down social media into more simple terms, it can become easier to realize that social media is not the enemy, but rather it is a useful tool to put into your business’s toolbox. Knowing which tool to pull out is the hard part, but learning more about digital marketing and their purposes and features is key to understanding how they can help.

— Contributed by Sarah Howard, SCORE Cape Cod and the Islands. (Statistics retrieved from Investopedia.com.) To learn more about how social media can assist your business, contact SCORE at capecod.score.org, capecodscore@verizon.net or 508-775-4884. We go where you are.