Retail marketing via social media sites can be a simple and effective way to connect with consumers, but if used incorrectly, may end up doing more harm than good.

There are currently more adults using social media than ever before, making sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest the ideal platforms for retailers in Australia to connect with potential customers.

Figures from Pew Research show 73 per cent of online adults use at least one social networking site.

Facebook is the most popular, with 71 per cent of connected adults holding an account with this social networking giant.

Additionally, 42 per cent of online adults use multiple sites. However, this does not mean your business should blindly sign up for every social media site available to widen the prospective audience.

Social media marketing has almost nothing to do with your business, and should instead be all about the audience. The most effective way to attract your target demographic is to focus your social media strategy on the sites they are likely to be connected to.

It is therefore important to identify your demographic before choosing which social media sites to invest in.

While Facebook attracts a diverse user base, other social networking sites have developed unique demographic use profiles.

Women are four times as likely to use Pinterest than men while Twitter and Instagram appeal mostly to young, urban-dwelling, non-white adults.

If your retail strategy is to cast your net wide over multiple sites, you may find your attempt to appeal to everyone means you now appeal to no one.

Instead, by offering content that appeals to a more specific target audience you could achieve a more engaged connection, which will result in a higher chance of the consumer sharing your content on their own social media profile.

A quarter of online users are happy to share links to services or products they like, as long as the content being shared is relevant and engaging, according to a survey completed by independent research organisation Ipsos.

Author Pippa Kulmar

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