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Reaching Your Audience

Thought Leader

By Dave Nelsen, Contributing Writer, @DaveNelsen

Recently, the president of a prominent museum asked me which social media tool she should use to reach her audience.

It’s a great question that all of us should be asking on behalf of our own businesses and organizations. Pick the wrong venue and you’re unlikely to connect with your audience. You wouldn’t go to a grocery store to find football fans, especially at game time on Sunday. Well, maybe in the beer aisle.

In my research, I could not find any single source to answer this question definitively. Instead, I compiled data from a variety of sources and made my best apple-to-apples adjustments to the numbers that follow. Shout out to the folks at Hubspot for providing more than their fair share of such stats (

Do your own research to verify any of the following information before relying on these results. Among other things, the numbers are constantly changing. In reviewing, notice some funDave Nelsen Audience Chart facts I’ve included in the “comments” column.

These are numbers, but there’s more to consider. Have you ever seen the quotation “Chase two rabbits, catch none?”  If you pursue multiple audiences that have different interests, you’re creating a lot of noise for all of them.

In the case of a museum, potential audiences might include patrons, donors, potential board members*, art dealers, artists and no doubt others. By targeting separate audiences individually, your content and interactions can be more valuable and more time-efficient for each of them, making audience attraction and retention less challenging.

*Side note. If you aspire to be on the board of a non-profit organization, plan on being a MAJOR DONOR too. I’ve been there, LOL.

Few organizations have the resources to pursue all (or even most) of their potential target audiences. Indeed. Pick your most valuable population first and serve them well. If you still have available resources, serve the next audience, and so on. It reminds me of another quote: “Do one thing well, not two things poorly.”

If you measure the revenue and cost of your social programs, you may find that some merit greater (or lesser) investment than initially predicted, because the initiatives generate impressive returns on investment (or not). Which brings to mind another quotation: “Let data be your guide.” And, “What gets measured, gets done.” And, “Never inundate your audience with too many quotations.” (I just made up that last one.)

Yet another factor to consider in selecting a social platform is its cost. While you can set up a Facebook Company Page for free, only approximately one percent of those who “like” you will see your posts in their feeds. I can’t imagine a less-efficient way to communicate with an audience that has already opted in.

But wait, Dave. When that one percent “likes” my post, don’t their friends see it too? Yes, but are their friends your target audience? I thought not.

There is a way to fix the one-percent-visibility problem: You must pay!

Mark Zuckerberg is running a public company, and he told his users that “Facebook is free and always will be.” Where will he make money? Right!

Today, there are multiple advertising modes on Facebook and most other social networks, but never buy social advertising on faith. Figure out what “conversions” you’re attempting and estimate their corresponding values. Then you can calculate the ROI. Did I already mention, “What gets measured, gets done?”

I’m not sure how to end this article except to mention that I didn’t mention Google+ in the table above. I use Google+ for a small, private group of less than 100 members and I love it. However, Google+ lost 57 percent of its user base in 18 short months. Maybe it should be renamed “the failing Google+.” Interestingly, Google has tried social networking four times (does anybody remember Orkut, Wave or Buzz?). If Google+ does fail, I’m almost certain that Google will be back for a fifth try, or an acquisition. Twitter anyone?

Regarding the failing Google+, regular readers may remember that a little over four years ago I said that Google+ looked to be on track to become the second largest social network. Not exactly. But I do this column for free, and you might recall one other quote: “You get what you pay for.”