Customers are the lifeblood of your small business. Finding out where your customers are online is also a crucial part of your efforts to build your business. There are many ways to raise your profile with potential customers, but too many business owners waste a lot of time using five or more social media sites a day. If you focus your efforts on one social media site (and it should be the one where your target audience is spending the vast majority of their time online), that is when you will be able to become a brand in demand. You want to connect and then communicate with compelling content, consistently, to become a trusted member of the online community, which will eventually turn into commerce for your business.
Here are six strategies to find out where your customers are online.
Identify Your Customer
How can you find someone if you don’t know who you are looking for? One of the most important keys to finding customers is identifying the unique traits, characteristics, and preferences of your key target audience. It is incredibly difficult to find your customer online without this information. If you have not yet developed a detailed profile of your target customer, do it as soon as possible.
Determine Your Keywords and Hashtags
Now that you know your target customer, you must determine what keywords and hashtags this audience uses to search for content and information about your topic, expertise, or solution. My favorite keyword tools are wordtrakker.com, overture.com, and Google keyword research tool.
Identify Likely Hotspots
Once you have identified your keywords, do some additional research to figure out where your customers spend time online. It is possible to spend hours on this research, so focus on essentials. If your ideal customer skews older and more professional, you may find them on LinkedIn. If you sell a product that has great design, your customers might find Pinterest or Instagram more appealing. Facebook still offers a great cross section of customers and has great free analytics; however, be aware that younger audiences are not spending as much time on this social media network.
Create a Specific Campaign
You may think that you can use the same campaign for every social media marketing channel, but each site requires personalization and modification. Your campaign should include content that can be highlighted to show the network’s strengths. For example, your efforts should skew more toward the visual, rather than content, for Pinterest, and you’ll have to use bite-sized messages for Twitter given its character constraints.
Time Your Outreach
It is cliché, but timing is everything. Pay attention to the time zones your customers are in, and schedule your content to be published around that. Seasonal variances can also make a big difference. If you sell spices, barbecue season may be the perfect time to launch a big campaign. These are the elements that can subtly undermine or boost your efforts to find your customers online, so make sure you pay attention to them all.
Analyze and Plan
It is a constant and consistent effort that builds your customer base online. Use Google analytics and the tracking tools provided by the difference social sites to make sure you are driving traffic and engaging your audience. Give your endeavor time to develop and then carefully evaluate your efforts to determine where you go in the future.
Marketing to your customers online is an ongoing process. When you build it into to your day, focus on just building a brand on one site. You will grow your customer base organically and build a strong, sustainable small business.