2018 Social Media Strategy Overview

Two heads sharing questions and ideas

There is no one side fits all strategy to Social Media, but ignore it at your risk. There are several major platforms and a plethora of minor platforms, but for small business brands and political brands, there are a few to focus on. Thank you to Pew Research for putting these facts together.


YouTube, by reputation, is that of a video streaming service, but the YouTube.com site is a much broader social platform. Comments, discussions, sharing, and thumb up/thumb down scores all contribute to the YouTube experience. Sure you can embed a YouTube video on your website without using those functions, but YouTube.com is now the second largest search engine (after Google.com), and Google Video searches rely heavily on YouTube. A strong YouTube presence, including the social components of commenting on related videos and replying to comments, is very important. As of January 2018, 73% of Adults use YouTube.


The largest of the pure Social Platforms, 68% of Americans have Facebook Accounts. Only Facebook knows what percentage of them are regular and active users, but Pew pegs it at 74% of American Facebook users use it at least once a day. That’s self reported, so take it with a grain of salt, but Facebook may be the easiest and most direct way to reach people. It is not sufficient to have a Page that you share content to. Links to your website, with proper boosts, and audience building campaigns are critical to brands having the ability to engage with people that interest them.


Instagram, the Facebook property, is in third place with 35% of Americans having accounts, 60% of whom use it at least daily. That makes Instagram an important, but not as critical, part of your social media strategy. A simple Instagram account, with a regular picture and caption being added, with good hashtags, can go a long way towards building your brand. A serious effort to build followers and engage can have more serious results, but it depends on your brand. If your goal is to build deep relationships with users (premium luxury brands), Instagram should be front and center. If you need a more casual relationship with the bulk of the population (think politicians, Instagram can be more perfunctory).

Niche Platforms: Pinterest, Snapchat, LinkedIn, Twitter

These platforms, are relatively popular, all having a decent population, with dominance in their area, but lack a universal presence. The usage gap between these platforms and Instagram is only a few percentage points, but Instagram is rapidly growing and these niche platforms are relatively static in their user base. For completeness, Pinterest has 29% of Americans, Snapchat 27% of Americans, LinkedIn has 25%, and Twitter 24%. These aren’t small audiences, with large segments of the population in their niche.

Pinterest is very popular, but is demographic specific, being 81% female, and a median age of 40. The active pinners are younger and even more female, and among Millenials it equals Instagram. It has a strong advertising platform, and is very strong around lifestyle, hobbies, and brands. If you market your brands towards women under 50, Pinterest is a great addition to your platform. (OmniCore’s Pinterest Statistics)

Snapchat is popular, but niche. The advertising platform is immature, and it is challenging for non-celebrities to build a following here. Unless you are in fashion, music, or other youth targeted segments, it is probably more worthwhile to focus on other platforms. But if you are targeting college students and younger, SnapChat is essentials. (OmniCore’s Snapchat Statistics)

LinkedIn is a valuable, and expensive to market on. If your target audience are business professionals, it’s a critical platform. Sales Professionals live and die by LinkedIn. Gainfully employed people may only look at Linkedin when job hunting. If you are selling into corporate markets, LinkedIn needs to fit your platform. If you are marketing to consumers, LinkedIn is probably not going to generate an ROI.

Twitter is a super strange platform. It’s relatively small, but sometimes has an out-sized influence. It is popularly credited by the media with dominating the 2016 election, but there are so few people on it. It is more popular overseas, where the lower data needs and more free-flowing conversations avoid censors. Twitter is extremely possible with journalists, public relations firms, and celebrities. The ability to run the messaging from a cell phone makes it much flexible for those in the business of communicating with those industries. While Twitter shows Videos and Images, pure text messaging still works. If your business is looking to reach journalists, generate publicity, or communicate with customers in a free-wheeling fashion, Twitter should be part of your communications strategy. Twitter’s advertising tools are shockingly primitive, but it’s very powerful if you are trying to reach the demographics active there.

Open Graph Brings SEO Opportunities to Facebook

So Facebook’s push for Open Graph integration, where the “Like Button” replaces the direct link, creates new opportunities for businesses to focus on Facebook’s search mechanism.  Some initial tests indicated that it is possible to now optimize for Facebook search, i.e. bringing SEO to Facebook.

Facebook Open Graph allows one to connect their site to Facebook without full integration, simply using new Facebook Meta Tags and the Like Button (a snipped of Javascript code).  Facebook is tracking these likes and building a “graph” of the Internet based upon the recommendations of your social network, and now they are including relevant results when you search Facebook for something.

This creates an opportunity for companies that are bringing their brand to Facebook to get additional exposure through Open Graph, which creates an incentive to use the technology.  This is exciting, as the move to the “walled garden” of social media threatened to disrupt the open world of search.  In the past, users could recommend a page on their blog, creating a “link graph” for the search engines to use, but now it’s easier to just click “share” and send the link out to your friends that way.  Without this part of the link graph, the search engines are missing out on the recommendations that they build their systems upon.

Open Graph brings out the ability to restore this, even if Facebook is the only company taking advantage of it for now.

Sen. Schumer’s Attempt to Intimidate Facebook

So our wonderful Senate, which has decided to punt on any actual governing in favor of executive departments and the judiciary, has decided to weigh in on Facebook’s privacy policies…  In fairness, it’s just a few Senators, not the entire Senate, but still, this issue is greatly concerning.  Whether it is summoning private businesses for a dressing down, like Goldman Sachs, or now Facebook, the tendency of the Senate to weigh in on individual businesses attempting to intimidate them is greatly disconcerting.

Officially, hearings are supposed to be fact finding when bringing outside individuals in (as opposed to oversight of government bodies), but in reality, it looks like posturing, pandering, and intimidation.  Now, if they are concerned about privacy on the web, and wanted to bring Mr. Zuckerberg in to weigh in on the impact, that would seem perfectly reasonable.  But to instead just send a letter from someone who helps makes laws is really disconcerting.

If they believe that the legal regime doesn’t protect privacy, propose a law to protect it.  However, to simply pander by attacking a high profile business is pandering at best, and an attempt to gain extra legal powers by the government through intimidation at worst.

Tweetdeck Enhances Facebook, Adds Myspace

If you are playing with Social Media, you’re aware of TweetDeck, the Twitter-centric system that helps organize that mass chaos that Twitter can devolve into.  If you are just updating your friends of your comings and goings, particularly via SMS, ignore TweetDeck, but if you are monitoring and participating in far ranging online conversation, TweetDeck forms the center of it.

Custom Searches let you monitor stories and discussions, and with the new version, the directory makes it easy to add discussions and other topics.  TweetDeck supported Facebook Status updates, the original system that Twitter appeared to copy and enhance, but now TweetDeck is integrated with Facebook for tracking all sorts of information.  TweetDeck is also adding MySpace support, the popular service that seems buzz free but with many active users.

Mashable also seems to be big fans of this TweetDeck upgrade.

Demographics of Twitter — Teens Catching Up

The latest demographics show Twitter usage amongst teenagers catching up with older dynamics.  The service still dominates in the 35 – 54 year old segment, which makes sense given that the mid-career professionals with nobody looking over their shoulder at the office all day (literally, more likely to have an office or at least a large cubicle) are making more use of a tool that requires constant connectivity for usage.  However, teenagers are slowly taking more of an interest in Twitter, which seemed odd to those that assume that technology is most often adapted by the young and moves up.  In the case of Twitter, it captured the Blackberry-addict demographic, not the TXTing on a phone demographic that they aimed for.  The comScore Blog Entry shows this with some lovely charts.

Twitter started by assuming that you’d want to update your close circle of friends with your goings on.  When Twitter hit the scene, my friends in urban areas on the coasts jumped on it to update everyone with what they were doing socially.  The teenage demographic doesn’t WANT to publish everything publicly, at least where their parents and/or teachers can find it.  Myspace offered teenagers tremendous room for self expression, while Facebook focused on the college (and later high school and young professional) markets of dating and social connection… high college students keeping in touch with high school friends, etc.

Interestingly, Twitter is now integrated with other parts of the web much better, making it a more useful tool for this demographic.  One of my high school classmates posted on Facebook that we should follow her on Twitter, as she isn’t on Facebook much anymore, but whether this is inevitable or a function of Facebook’s chasing Twitter and de-emphasizing what made it originally popular remains to be seen.  The old core of Facebook, finding old friends and reconnecting, or sharing college experiences with friends across the country, seems to have been supplanted in a barrage of data.  Facebook knocked Myspace off as leader by offering a clean and easy to use interface, but when they started fighting Twitter for buzz the news feed stopped being about sharing photographs and more about comments on statuses and wall posts, making it more and more a poor impersonation of Twitter.  If you want status and comments, Twitter’s world of feeds and mentions is a far cleaner interface than Facebook’s increasingly cluttered system.

Teenagers either have a close social circle that they are in touch with, or looking for ways to break out of the social world that they inhabit during the day.  A service that wants to reach them needs to offer one (or both) of those options.  Twitter offers teenagers the ability to aggregate information flow that interests them, and the increasing integration with other aspects of the web make it more interested.  When I was in high school, BBSes were the online way to communicate, by college, ICQ and later AIM became the online social center.  As Twitter takes that portion of the mindspace, Twitter’s relevance in that group increases.  However, the idea that my instant messages would be published on the website (even with the distinction between direct messages and public ones) seems odd to me, but AIM seemed odd to email/USENET users before us.

Facebook Pages Support Twitter, Smart Move

Last week, Facebook announced that they would support Twitter for Facebook Pages.  This seems to shock Mashable, but I’m not sure why.  Facebook offers Pages (formerly fan pages) as an enticement to businesses.  You can advertise them, add applications to them, message them, all sorts of functionality for businesses to use Facebook for marketing and pay Facebook to run CPC ads for their Page.

Hellotxt added support for Pages a while back, which would let you cross Publish to your Facebook Page, Twitter, and a few dozen other social media sites. If I’m Facebook, I want to be the core of your Social Media existence, and letting your updates auto-post to Twitter makes sense.  A business doing social media is likely to do Twitter and Facebook, so if you’re Facebook, why have them go to a third party, when you can make yourself the center of their Social Media world.

Facebook offers tremendous tools for online interaction with customers, Twitter offers some buzz.  If I can’t have dedicated people for both, I either need a cross posting tool, or having one update the other.  I see no threat to Facebook from this, and a way of enhancing the service that they want to charge people to advertisement.

Myspace.com Isn’t Dead, Is It?

I’ll admit I have a Myspace.com account that I never use, I use Facebook extensively, becoming active with the addition of the Newsfeed and later API/Applications.  Biggest reason?  I was able to hook iPhoto up to Facebook via Exporter and put up pictures of my kids.  Combine that with mobile uploads and then the Blackberry application, and my friends and I can share pictures of our kids.  The dragged my family on, because not everything was making it to Shutterfly or other online album software.  The walled garden aspect doesn’t bother me, I’m not terrifed that random people will be unable to find pictures of my kids on tricycles.

That said, Myspace.com has completely disappeared from the news.  However, Mashable is reporting that Myspace.com still rules the critical teen demographic.  This actually makes a lot of sense to me.  Facebook with its public adding of friends is perfect for those of us out of school, married, and reconnecting with high school/college classmates, but if I was in middle school or high school, I’d be terrified of the in your face nature of Facebook.  The idea that a relationship breakup is quickly messaged to your entire school seems terrifying.  The clean nature of the Facebook interface is perfect for college students with a more relaxed sense of social moors (and a larger world than a middle school), and it lets you track your friends at other schools, but bringing the competitive social nature of middle/high school online, terrifying.

Myspace’s flexibility drives me crazy, but I’m an Internet professional specializing in usability, SEO, and correctness in markup.  So why does the Newsmedia talk about the importance of Twitter and treat Myspace as an also ran, despite Myspace being easily 5 times the size of Twitter and dominating the entertainment world.  As far as I can tell, the rapid assignment of followers (unlike two-way friendship) works perfect for a celebrity-driven culture, and therefore works perfectly for the media world.  Myspace is about self expression, Facebook about sharing your life with your friends, and Twitter about disseminating your life/views/events to people that are listening but without requiring a two way conversation.  Which one of those matches the media?

The media’s cultural biases (coastal, liberal, urbane) also come into play, where Myspace’s focus on alternative music genres, popularity with subcultural groups, and ownership by News Corp (Fox/Fox News), the epitomy of low brow markets.  Despite the media lavishing attention on Twitter, Twitter appears to be making little traction with teenage users, and Myspace/Facebook still dominate this demographic.  Twitter depends on users always being on, Facebook/Myspace fill you in when you return.  Twenty-something entry level employees at a desk all day are perfect for Twitter, teenagers with technology restricted at school and possibly at home?  Twitter doesn’t make sense.

Social Media players should look past their biases and realize that Twitter may have the Buzz, but Facebook and Myspace have the users.

Ethnic Targeting on Facebook

I opened up an email entitled, “The J-Files: Jewdar Theories” on how Facebook advertisements, wondering how they are targeting Jews and other people.  Having played with Facebook’s advertising, I can state that they are not targeting by the religion field.  However, how tough is it to find Jews to target.

So I went into Ads and started typing Keywords looking for Jews… Hillel, Israel, IDF,, Jewish, Jews, etc., and quickly identified 650,000 Jews on Facebook.  Going through the Jewish Fraternities and Jewish Sororities (starting with AEPi and AEPhi) each netted 15-20k as well.  Going through the myriad of Jewish organizations and I could probably finding 1 million Jews to target.  Of those, I’d probably have 100k-200 false positives that would ignore me, and 800k-900k Jews that think I figured them out.  That’s without joining the “find 1 million supporters of Israel and X” groups and

I’m pretty certain that similar keyword searches through other ethnicities would gain similar results.  Historically black colleges for targeting, black fraternities/sororities/social organizations, Facebook groups about being Black/Hispanic (plus Latino and Latina) and proud, etc., that people join could no doubt find more people to target.

So without Facebook letting you filter on ethnicity/religious, it isn’t difficult to find 80%/90% targeted keywords, and going broadly, you could probably get plenty of 50%-70% targets (list community colleges in predominately Hispanic counties, etc.).  Can I identify 100% of the Jews/Hispanics/etc. on Facebook, absolutely not.  Can I get large groups of people with an 80%+ likelihood of an ethnic identification to target with ads, absolutely, and that’s the power of social media.