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Your Online Audience is NOT Random
By: Christine Geraci
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Success in the online social space looks a little different for everyone. But in the end, the goal is the same: Get people talking. Without conversation, there is no hope to grow an audience, to gather feedback, to drive sales. 
 
Advice about how to get people talking abounds. A lot of that advice is pretty solid. A lot of it also makes me want to chuck my iPhone across the room. 
 
If you've just started using social media for business purposes, you might wonder: What types of content should I post? When should I post it? These are basic and important questions. And many people have "answers," based on random samplings and reams of data outlining how often people log into Facebook or times of the day optimal for tweeting or pinning. To be fair, these answers can indeed be helpful, and provide you with a place to start.
 
But that's all it is: A start. 
 
Because you see, if you're only asking what to post and when to post it, you're not asking enough.
 
Recently, I came across someone who thought it perfectly acceptable to rely on blanket studies of general social media behavior to guide the social media activity of that person's business. I responded, "That approach is fine for a random audience. What about your audience?"
 
Well, what about your audience?
 
Respectfully, if you assume your audience was part of some social media study's random sampling, then we've diagnosed the problem. The prescription? Do what Scott Stratten says in this blog post: "Do your homework." The data you want has to come from your own audience, not a random sampling. 
 
Stratten also makes another very important point: Even if you've pinpointed the best times to tweet or post to Facebook, it doesn't mean a hill of beans if your content sucks. Find out what your audience wants, what they respond to. How do you do that? As Stratten says, "test, test, test." 
 
Yes, it's work. But that's running a business. In the end, it will pay off. 


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About the Author
Christine Geraci is the Social Media/Promotions Specialist at MVP Health Care in Schenectady, NY. Connect with her on Twitter @christinegeraci.
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