Don’t assume all social media is the same

The experience of one Tasmania-based retailer demonstrates how different social media channels can appeal to entirely different types of customers.

With the vast array of social media applications now in the marketplace – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Google+, Flickr, Meetup, and Myspace to name a few – it can be easy to think they all do much the same thing. Not so, according to Lucy Given.

Lucy, a designer and owner of Hobart retailer LUC Design, told My Business that she predominantly uses Instagram and Facebook, and the two applications appeal to vastly different customer types.

“Social media has changed that whole arena pretty much. I've got a pretty active and well-established Instagram account, and Instagram is a global thing more than Facebook is really – because Facebook for me is a platform that just does my local customers,” she media blocks

“But on Instagram I've got a really big following, and that has led to people approaching me from all around the world to be stocked in my store, which is really nice!”

According to Lucy, the difference depends on which type of medium a particular social media platform uses to engage with people.

“For Facebook, because the platform is a lot about words and pictures, and it's of an instant … people are going onto Facebook to have either something funny said or see what their friends are up to in a daily sort of scenario,” she explains.

“[However] people are going onto Instagram to be visually inspired. If I put a sale on my Instagram account – say I've candles at 50 per cent off – no one in Buenos Aires or Tehran is going to be interested in that. But they would be interested if I was really inspired by a new design of hotel, or 'Have a look at this incredible house that has just been built in Seattle' or something like that.

“[Whereas] my Facebook fans don't really care about that – they want to know am I open tomorrow, do I have a sale on, what's the new product that's come into the store. So most of my Facebook fans are locals or state-based, and most of my followers on Instagram are globally based.”

Lucy says the data analytics offered by each platform can tell you a lot about the type of followers you are getting, and hence how you can best appeal to them.

“I've never overlooked the analytics that come with what I'm doing,” she says.

“Instagram has only recently gotten insights or analytics, but I already kind of knew what was happening there. But Facebook tells me what time people are looking, so if it was 7am and 7pm, it's more likely that's a local or an Australian viewing. Whereas most of the viewing on my Instagram account is at 3am [which suggests international followers].”

Lucy has this advice for all small business owners seeking to engage with both new and existing customers via social media:

“It's about treating each platform differently – not thinking that Facebook is doing exactly the same task as Instagram is doing, and that's not doing the same task as my blog and my website either,” she says.

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