Using Social Media Demographics (at work and on my blog)

Using demographic info gained from social media is invaluable in my position as the Exec Director of Communications & Marketing at the university where I work. At Tennessee Tech, I work with our agency of record, the Tombras Group, for assistance with media placement, including Facebook. We can give our media planner the demographic characteristics we want to reach, create a Facebook ad with image and text, and then our ad only pops up when the user fits the profile of the demographics we submitted. We get an estimate beforehand on how many we are reaching. Right now, my largest campaigns focus on traditional undergraduate recruitment, so I want Tennessee Tech’s ad to pop up on Tennessee high school students’ profile, between the ages of 13-17. If they click on our ad, it takes them directly to our official university Facebook page where they can “like” the page. That give us as the university a virtual foot in the door because now our Facebook messages/posts get incorporated into that user’s news feed. Using this strategy, we have gone from just several thousand fans back in 2009 to almost 38,000 today (https://www.facebook.com/tennesseetech). Below is an image of the ad we’ve used to target high school students that matched our overall marketing campaign of “Unleash Your Awesomeness” for undergraduate recruitment at Tennessee Tech. Level of investment on Facebook for us runs about $1,300 per month.

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Also, in targeting the 13-17 high school market in Tennessee, you also get information like the statistics and psychographics seen below. This information is helpful in knowing what TV shows, books, movies, music (basically anything pop culture related) that my target audience participates in. This helps inform the media buying decisions when I place a buy for cable television or what type of radio station I advertise on.

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Also, I’ve included below our some of the info on our past reports we receive from our marketing agency about our ads overall performance, as well as age and gender breakdowns.

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In thinking about how I use these kinds of social media demographics in my everyday job, to be honest, it’s a little more challenging for me to think about these demographics in the context of my personal blog on higher education marketing because I know I personally don’t have the funds to invest in promoting myself like I do the university at work — but I am always up for a challenge! I know my target audience for my personal blog are other higher education communications, marketing, PR folks. I am already connected in real life and virtually to a network of these professionals with my affiliation with the Tennessee College Public Relations Association. That organization is active on social media and also participates in an email list where members can ask questions and receive advice/answers from other members. I also belong to other national groups like this through my LinkedIn Profile (I added some more after revamping my LinkedIn profile last week). Groups I have joined there include: Brand Activation: Cutting Through The Clutter, Council for the Advancement and Support of Education, Digital Communications Marketing in Higher Education, Higher Education Management, Higher Education Professionals, Higher Education Teaching & Learning, and Web 2.0 for Higher Education. So I could start interacting more with these groups and pushing my relevant blog posts when a related discussion emerges. In addition to LinkedIn, many of these national groups use Twitter, so I need to be more active there. 

For Facebook, the Tennessee College Public Relations Association already has a group/page set up, so I could do the same there as on LinkedIn in terms of sharing my blog posts to relevant discussions. I don’t want to just interject myself into the news stream as a promotion hog with every post, but publicize them when it is relevant to current discussion. Goals on Facebook for me are harder because I see Facebook more as my family and friends extension versus a way to promote myself professionally. I use Twitter more for that. I really see my higher ed marketing blog and Twitter being intertwined. Twitter is my professional persona on social media. This is where I participate in Twitter chats, retweet article links about higher ed or marketing, and make connections with others in my profession. I need to make an effort to use Twitter more and integrate it into my weekly work flow tying it back to my blog. 

With that being said, as for a specific strategy for Facebook I do know that without getting the word out about my blog, my content will never maximize its reach. Some specific tactics to boost blog interaction on Facebook could include going heavy with images. Facebook is such a visual medium, even in comparison to Twitter, that photos and images get more interaction. Another tactic I could use is being able to structure my content for easier consumption. As we discussed earlier in this class, lists and breaking posts into bulleted format make it easier on the reader to consume the information versus  long blog posts like I do here in my class blog. Another tactic to boost Facebook interaction that I’ve got to explore is to allow my blog visitors to follow me on Facebook (and Twitter). I need to figure out how to promote this in the sidebar on my wordpress blog. Another tactic would be to also include the Facebook icon in the sidebar since it is widely recognizable. Other ways of connecting my blog to Facebook could be liking my own posts on my Facebook profile (it’s kind of like voting for yourself in an election, but it does help promote the content).

With that overview about my Facebook strategy and tactics personal blog, we are in the process of developing a more comprehensive strategy for using Facebook at the university where I work. Just this week, we met with our analytics guy who has been keeping track of Google Analytics for our university website (www.tntech.edu). He has also just begun looking at our social media statistics for Tennessee Tech’s Facebook, Twitter and YouTube accounts. Specifically for Facebook, he was able to pull from the analytics data the following important information:

  • From Jan. 1- April 1, 2014, TTU had a total of 100 posts to its Facebook page, which translated into a total reach of 315,924.
  • Total number of people engaged posts on the page (those who liked, shared, or commented on a post) was 15,173. In contrast, we had a total of 66,026 who viewed the page during those same months (this is interesting because we have a total of 37,341 fans). So significantly more people are viewing the page and about half of our fans are directly engaging in our pasts (These are really good numbers for engagement).

Another cool analytical tool is to show what our most popular, engaging posts were. This helps us shape the type of content we promote on TTU’s Facebook page, such as photos are popular for liking and sharing. See our Discovery report below.

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