Stacy Jackson is a founding partner at Jackson Marketing, Inc., a marketing firm located in Dunedin, Florida. In addition to her work at Jackson Marketing, Stacy is a co-host of The B2B Mix Show podcast. You can follow her on Twitter at @stacy_jax and connect with her on LinkedIn (linkedin.com/in/stacyjax).

For the holdouts among you, now hear this: social media usage has increased tenfold among adults over the past ten years. That’s right: 65% of adults now use social media (source: Pew Research Center) That’s a big deal. Chances are — even in B2B marketing scenarios — your customers are participating in social media. Are you making your mark where your customers spend time online?

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Chart Note: No data available for 2007 from Pew Research

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Your Customers are on Social Media

Pew Research Center’s “Social Media Usage: 2005-2015” report further breaks down the data for us:

Young adults still dominate social media, but seniors are picking up steam.

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Chart Note: No data available for 2007 from Pew Research

While young adults, ages 18 to 29, are the most likely to use social media, use among all age groups have significantly increased over the past ten years. In the past five years alone, we’ve seen increases in participation in each age group:

  • 18 – 29: 15% increase in social media participation
  • 30 – 49: 45% increase in social media participation
  • 50 – 64: 55% increase in social media participation
  • 65+: 218% increase in social media participation

No matter the age group of your target audiences, it’s highly likely that a majority of them are on at least one social media network. Whether you are marketing to senior citizens, middle-aged consumers, or B2B decision makers, there is an opportunity to generate leads through social media and social selling.

Men’s and women’s social media usage has reached a similar rate.

In social media networks’ earlier days, women were the dominant users. As of 2014, however, men reached a similar rate of use. In 2015, 68% of women and 62% of men use social media.

Social Media Has Increased Across Groups by Education Level

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Chart Note: No data available for 2007 from Pew Research

The social media adoption rate for those with at least some college education is at 70%, and those with college or graduate degrees have a 76% adoption rate. People with a high school diploma or less have an adoption rate of 54%, but that represents a more than tenfold increase over the past decade. Regardless of the educational background of your ideal customer or prospect, there is likely a community of those prospects on a popular social media platform.

Reaching Your Target Audience

The numbers speak for themselves . . . sort of. You know your target audience is on social media. The question is, which platforms are they on? That’s going to take a little research on your part. However, there are some general things we know:

  • Facebook is the most popular social media network and practically everyone who uses social media is a user. In June 2015, Facebook reported there are 968 million active users. The user makeup is wide and diverse, and your target customers are probably there. You just have to judge whether or not Facebook makes sense as a primary outreach vehicle for your business. Facebook is great for consumer-oriented products. B2B may be a different story — it really depends on the offering. If your B2B product or service isn’t something people are generally going to want to talk about on Facebook — maybe it’s very scientific or highly regulated — then, your focus for Facebook should be around building a personality for your brand that helps you recruit employees and showcases what you do from a corporate culture perspective.
  • Twitter is used by about 23% of adult internet users as of the end of 2014 according to Pew Research Center. It typically appeals to adults under 50 and those who are college educated. Twitter can be a great platform for reaching the Millennial and Gen X crowds. These two generations are in the workforce and taking influencer and decision making roles. Start searching Twitter to learn more about people in your industry who are currently active there. Listen for awhile, do a little research, and start thinking about your Twitter strategy.
  • Pinterest, as of year-end 2014, is used by 28% of the adult online population. (Source: Pew Research Center) Women are the majority of its user base, but more men are participating. If you have a brand that lends itself well to imagery: food, fashion, art, illustration, etc., then it’s a no-brainer: join Pinterest. Other verticals will require more research. If you sell to rocket scientists, you’ll have to dig a little deeper into that persona to learn more about their likelihood of visiting Pinterest.
  • LinkedIn is a big “no duh” for any business-to-business marketers out there. You must get your company page setup and encourage your employees to participate. This will be a great avenue for social selling. But what about consumer-facing brands? Think of this as the flipside of the Facebook situation described above for B2B companies. LinkedIn can be a terrific recruiting tool to find people to join your organization. So, even if you wouldn’t be able to directly generate consumer leads through LinkedIn, it can build awareness for your brand and help you find and retain top talent.
  • YouTube is the second largest search engine in the world, and it has over a billion users. In addition to the impressive user base size, YouTube also boasts a greater reach among 18-34 and 18-49 year-olds than any U.S. cable network. (Source: YouTube). In addition to these impressive statistics, there’s the fact that Google owns YouTube. Have you noticed that YouTube videos that pertain to your keyword search often show up pretty high in the results? That’s another great reason to get your video and YouTube strategy figured out.

These are just some of the big ones. I cover a few others in my post on using social media to drive blog traffic. Check it out!

Conclusion

If you are reading this wondering who I must be talking to — everyone is doing social media now — then you are one of the lucky ones. Your social business strategy is set or at least in its early stages. But, I know there are traditionalists and naysayers (especially in B2B) who are starting to come around to the idea of social media and content marketing in general. Welcome newly converted (or even the “I’m still thinking about it” types) — it’s time to get your feet wet.

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