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Tracking Your Members’—and Future Members’—Usage Patterns

Tracking Your Members’—and Future Members’—Usage Patterns

Keeping members engaged means putting messages out in places where they will find them–it’s an axiom as old as marketing itself. These days, with the increasing number of channels–from social media to broadcast outlets such as podcasts and Internet radio–media consumers have more choices than ever. That means marketing professionals have more opportunity, too–both to hit the mark and get it wrong.

Staying on top of where your audiences is key to driving current campaigns. But what about preparing for the next generation of members? While it may be too early to target teens and young adults just starting their careers, it’s not too early to understand how they consume content, as those habits are likely to form their future patterns.

Pew Research Center takes regular surveys on Internet usage. One recent report focused on teens and social media usage–and some of the emerging trends may surprise you.

Most marketers know that Facebook, with more than 2 billion users worldwide, is the largest social media network in the world. Plenty of digital advertising strategies reflect this–Facebook’s targeting abilities make it a powerful delivery medium for all types of messages. But among 13-17-year-olds–a big chunk of the next generation of consumers–Facebook ranks fourth, behind YouTube, Instagram, and Snapchat. This is a major change from the last survey on teens, done three years ago.

Of course, most social media users are on more than one platform. Pew found that Snapchat and YouTube are the most preferred platforms for teens, with about a third preferring one or the other. Instagram, at 15%, was third.

Another key data point: 95% of teens have a smartphone, and 45% of them say they are online “constantly.”

Teens Social Media

For marketers, the Pew report has several key takeaways.

Mind your other platforms. Facebook has earned its place as the dominant social media platform, and one that gets its share of advertising dollars. But if you are not exploring others–notably YouTube, Snapchat, and Instagram–you should start.

Multi-channel campaigns remain key. The fact that the Pew survey’s target age group was evenly split on which platform they preferred most shows that tastes differ, and that most users will provide opportunities to be reached on multiple channels. Use this to your advantage re-enforcing your message, call-to-action, or brand in multiple places.

Mobile is key. Smartphones are used for much more than social media. The fact that 95% of teens are using them, and half of those call their use “constant,” tells you all you need to know about how important your mobile strategy needs to be. From ads to a mobile-friendly website–and don’t forget your ancillary sites such as event pages in addition to the main site–make sure your digital strategy doesn’t short-change the mobile user’s experience.

One of our specialties is making sense of how to best reach very specific audiences. If you have a campaign you’re working on, we’d be happy to collaborate with you to maximize your efforts. Contact Sherene Rapoport at sherene@grassrootcommunications.com or 540.428.7000 x3032 to get started!


How to Make Your Social Media Content More Engaging

Getting your content out there and read is one thing. Getting your audience to engage with it and open up dialogue is a whole different ball game.

Here are some simple practices that can make a big difference:

  1. Ask Your Audience Questions

We’ve all been in real world conversations where someone has remained quiet, just listening, until you asked them a question and drew them in. We are conditioned by life to respond on cue when we are asked something – it’s a psychological trigger. It simply may not occur to your audience to interact with your content until they are specifically asked to do so.

The fact is that people want to give their opinions, to share their knowledge and experience. People like talking about themselves and their areas of expertise. They just need to be invited to do so, and you can do this in an almost endless number of ways:

  • Ask your readers / viewers to add additional ideas to those you’ve shared.
  • Pose a problem, and seek their advice.
  • Poll your audience for their preferences on an issue.
  • Take a side (carefully) on a controversial topic, and ask people to share support or an opposing view. Even disagreement is engagement if it’s managed well.
  1. Post at Optimal Times

If you create great content, and ask an interesting question, but it arrives on the social media feeds at a time that your audience either just aren’t there, or are too busy, you’re unlikely to get much engagement.

Optimal times do vary between different demographics and “tribes”, so it requires some testing over time. Some research has been done, however, to determine the best general times to post on different social media platforms, and so the following should serve as a guide to get you started:

  • Facebook: Thursday to Sunday, from 1-4pm
  • Twitter: Monday to Thursday, from 12-5pm
  • LinkedIn: Tuesday to Thursday, from 5-6pm
  • Pinterest: Saturday to Sunday, from 8-11pm
  1. Be a Discerning Content Curator

You probably don’t have the time, personnel or budget to create all the content you need in-house. But even if you did, curation would still be a desirable piece to include in your strategy as it opens up worlds of interesting material that can add a variety of new and rich perspectives.

One of the great benefits of finding great content you can share with your audience is that, because it comes from a third party source, it can be used as a conversation starter with an even greater degree of freedom than content that comes from you. We’re all naturally more willing to critique the work of someone not present than with an author themselves.

A general guide that is often suggested for hitting the right balance is to aim at posting 50% curated content, 30% of your own original creation, and around 20% promotional material and appeals.

  1. Tap your audience for ideas.

Want to know what kind of content will be most interesting to your audience, and most likely for them to engage with? Here’s a thought: ASK THEM.

By looking to followers and fans for their feedback, you are demonstrating that you care about their opinions and interests. In return, you’ll get to know your audience better, and also you will have already entered into engagement with them.

It’s Not Rocket Science

When you boil it all down to basics, doing social media engagement the right way is a matter of putting in the relational effort. As Mom used to say, “To have friends you need to BE a friend.” If you will put in the time to reach out to people, start conversations, show your appreciation and ensure that no question goes unanswered, your clients and followers will start to take notice.

Try these 4 simple practices we’ve listed for starters. As you discover other ways to engage your audience, we’d love you to let us know! Maybe you already have found some effective ways – take a moment to engage and tell us about them by emailing sherene@grcdirect.com  We’d love to share them with our readers.

Websites and Blogs Mentioned