When you start a business, one of the biggest steps you make is determining who your target audience is. Every service out there has an ideal customer with specific needs and patterns that a business strives to understand.

In this sense, social media is actually no different.

I like to think of every social media platform as a sort of “mini-business,” operating to propel the business it represents further. Each social media platform does this differently because it reaches a different type of audience. Understanding those audiences often helps determine which platforms you choose to invest your time in.

Too many people think social media success equals gaining a few thousand followers in a couple months, getting over a thousand likes on a post, or heavy engagement from all over the world. Don’t get me wrong, these are all great accomplishments and definitely worth celebrating. However, are these high traffic numbers doing anything for your business?

I like to remind businesses to focus instead on who is engaging with your posts. An extra five likes on your tweet from Russian bot accounts means nothing for your business. Comments from Instagram users under 21 on your wine label’s latest picture doesn’t exactly do a whole lot for you.

One comment from a person in your target demographic inquiring about your service, however, is infinitely more valuable than ten fire emoji comments from Joe Schmoes in a part of the world you don’t sell to. Even just getting the eyes of a person from your target demographic on your post, whether they engage with it or not, is more valuable than ten comments from non-consumers.

Your target audience is not everyone in the world, so why should your social media page reach everyone?

As long as you’re consistently posting, the followers and engagement you need to get started will come naturally. In the meantime, focus on creating quality content specifically catered to capture your target audience so that they are influenced to explore your services. That is how you use your social media platforms effectively and ensure you’re sticking to the whole point of it: propelling your business.

So, how do you make sure your page is actually doing this?

With social media, you cannot expect immediate results. Analyzing your page’s statistics and viewing your demographic is an ongoing process that you will be constantly adjusting towards. It takes at least a few weeks’ worths of posts and activity to have insightful analytics. It also takes trial and error to determine which types of posts work for your audience, and which don’t.

Most social media platforms provide analytics for free. Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest all provide free opportunities for you to view your page’s analytics. There are free tools out there to explore Instagram analytics, or if you use a tool like HootSuite or Sprout, you can view analytics for all your linked pages there.

The most important part of having these free analytics is to actually set aside the time to view them. We can all spend plenty of time on social media, and unfortunately, waste lots of time on social media. Checking your analytics regularly is the best kick back in the right direction to make sure the time invested in your pages is worthwhile.

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