If your law firm targets audiences on Facebook and other social media platforms using demographic parameters, you might want to think again. While you may want to reach users in a specific location or age group, relying on the information they provide in their profiles might not be as effective as you’d hoped for targeting your message.
Social media is, without a doubt, a powerful tool to reach and interact with huge numbers of potential clients. With well over a billion current and former users, Facebook is the biggest platform by far. LinkedIn, Twitter and all the rest claim a few hundred thousand apiece, so there’s no question that people are on these sites. The question is who they are.
Marketing strategist Simon Kemp took a detailed look at Facebook user demographics and made some surprising discoveries, including the fact that “there are more 18 year old men using Facebook today than there are 18 year old men living on Earth.” That startling revelation and others he uncovered should serve as a good reminder that on social media, as in life, things are not always as they appear.
The reasons social media demographics don’t always match up with reality are many and varied. Some users are bots, of course, and there are certain to be underage users who lie about their age to avoid restrictions on children’s use of the platform. Others may mask their true identities due to gender bias in their home countries, political repression or other types of inhibitors to free speech.
But in an age of concerns about eroding privacy, a growing number of internet users are loath to offer correct information about their age, location, gender or career choices. These users are of legal age to participate on whatever platforms they like, and living in countries where both women and men have free speech protections. They’re not afraid of political or religious persecution; they are simply afraid of giving away too much personal data to corporate, government or criminal observers (not to imply these categories are mutually exclusive).
As a result, limiting your social media content and ads to specific demographics may exclude precisely the people you want to reach. Luckily, you have other options. By selecting targeted audiences based on behavior you can communicate with the folks who are likely to appreciate your message. People who click on content and advertising with a legal focus, for example, or those who have previously engaged with your page are probably going to make a receptive audience.
Choosing an audience based on age or location can be useful but it’s not wise to rely exclusively on this kind of limitation, especially where there is the potential for misinformation. Looking at behavior will yield more valuable clues to where interests really lie, and therefore where your firm should expend your marketing energy for the best results.