Social media is not only used for marketing purposes by large corporations and small businesses, but individuals use social media to socialize and express themselves. Brands that create a one-size-fits-all social media strategy miss out on opportunities to engage consumers on a personal level. When developing a social media strategy, brands need to consider gender, ethnicity, age, culture and, yes, even the sexual orientation, of the brand’s target market. An individual’s identity greatly affects his likes and dislikes, community obligations and purchasing habits. There are a few things that brands need to keep in mind when planning a social media marketing strategy aimed at engaging lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender consumers (LGBT) consumers.
Learn More About the LGBT Community
All Americans are not the same. Not enough emphasis can be put on researching. You will need to do thorough research of the LGBT community. Learn proper terminology used in the LGBT community. You’ll also want to learn more about the income level and spending habit of lesbians and gay men. Experian’s 2012 LGBT Demographic Report states that gay men live in households that spend $6,256 per capita annually on discretionary spending, nearly $1,000 more than what the households of heterosexual men spend per person. This report also states:
Specifically, the typical adult lesbian woman personally earns $43,100 per year compared with $37,600 claimed by the average heterosexual woman. Furthermore, the typical household income of a married or partnered lesbian woman is $7,200 higher than that of a married or partnered heterosexual woman.
According to Witeck Communications, the total buying power of the adult U.S. lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender population was projected at $790 billion in 2012. Business.com states “approximately 89 percent of gays and lesbians are brand-affiliated and are highly likely to seek out brands that advertise to them.” It’s not enough to know that the LGBT community is loyal to brands that advertise directly to them; you’ll need to learn how to do so without promoting offensive stereotypes.
Reach Out to the LGBT Community
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Once you have a better understanding of the LGBT community’s spending habits and the community’s culture, it will be easier for you to connect with LGBT consumers without making huge mistakes. Avoid stereotyping the entire community by associating particular colors, habits or language. Share information that is likely to inspire confidence in your brand’s products or services within the LGBT community. Too many brands desperately reach out to the LGBT community (and other minority groups) only when the brand has fallen on some hard times. Remain consistent with your outreach to the LGBT community, even when your brand isn’t lifting every rock to make a sale. Once you have earned the loyalty of the LGBT community, do not abandon them when you feel you no longer need them. If you do that, the next time your brand falls on hard times, you’ll have an extremely difficult time winning the LGBT community’s respect and loyalty again.
Develop Content with the LGBT Consumer in Mind
As a marketer, you’ll want to make sure that any videos or images you post to your social network pages accurately reflect the LGBT community. One of the complaints often heard from the LGBT community is that marketers, in a desperate attempt to engage them, will resort to posting sexualized images of gays and lesbians although they wouldn’t do the same if they were trying to appeal to heterosexual consumers. Ask yourself this question before you post any images or videos to your social network pages: Is this image appropriate for the product or service I’m trying to promote, or does it exploit stereotypes about the LGBT community? If you’re posting blog posts, articles or news items, make sure those items do not contain any material the LGBT community would consider offensive.
After posting content designed to engage the LGBT consumer, monitor how the community responds to that content. If people start complaining about the content, address those concerns immediately. If an apology is necessary, be genuine when you apologize. If you notice that your content gets the community excited and engaged in a positive way, rinse and repeat.
How to Excite, Not Alienate, Female Consumers Using Social Media (Part 1)
How to Engage African American Consumers Using Social Media (Part 2)
Stay tuned for Part 4 of this series: How to Use Social Media to Engage Baby Boomers (Part 4)