Find Your Audience: Effective Targeting for Social Media
In the exhaustive day-to-day interactions of organizing a social media campaign it is easy to forget the most important piece of the marketing puzzle – your target market. They are your customer, your client, your followers and your friends who also have a set of distinct preferences and personality quirks which define their interest (and investment) in your brand.
As media professionals, we know how important it is to relate to these facets of your target market in traditional media. But with millions of conversations on hundreds of social media sites, it can be difficult to ensure your message is heard above the noise catching the attention of the intended reader.
How can you cut through the clutter and effectively connect with your target market online?
Strategically navigating the infinite online clutter is the difference between wasting your breath and creating a higher ROI for your social media campaign. While entire books could be (and have been) written on the subject, here are four simple steps to help you pinpoint and communicate effectively with your target online audience:
One: Get to Know Your Target Market
Before you can find the proverbial needle in the social media haystack, you first need to know what the needle looks like. Creating a clear picture of your target market not only allows you determine where your audience spends their time, but also helps you develop messages that meaningfully connect with their needs. Ask yourself:
- What are the personality traits, emotions, needs, passions and frustrations of my audience?
- What value or benefit can I bring to those emotions?
- What are the demographics and characteristics of my ideal customer? What kinds of groups or associations would they join?
Two: Determine Their Stomping Ground
Once you have a clear emotional and demographic picture, you can then brainstorm a short-list of online arenas and social media sites where this profile spends their time. This list will embody the focus of your social media campaign. Ask yourself:
- What are the top places my target market spends their time online?
- Where does my target go to network? Research? Read the news? Catch up with friends? Find distractions?
- What are the reasons my target market visits these sites? How can I ensure my message is not disruptive?
If you doubt your ability to answer these questions empathetically, use this opportunity to do selective interviews, surveys or focus groups. These brief sessions with your target market can clear up false assumptions and make sure that you’re not starting off on the wrong foot. Remember the old adage “If a tree falls in the forest, does it still make a sound?” It doesn’t in social media.
Three: Listen First, Act Second
The only way to interact naturally (not disruptively) with your target market is to communicate with them, not atthem. You can learn the best way to spread your message simply by observing what is already being shared, discussed and admired by your audience.
- Online Research: Search for Blogs / Profiles / Groups related to your Target Market and their interests.
- Evaluate Findings: Which posts / messages are the most exciting? Which invite the most comments? Which are the most useful for my target market?
- Profile Activity: Investigate your Audience’s profiles – What groups do they participate? What discussions do they start?
This information gives you a window into the heart of your target market and can help you focus your future discussions and group involvement. If you need an extra boost of confidence, do a little secret-shopping with your competitor’s social media presence to make sure you’re heading the right direction.
Four: Engage with Empathy
The traditional “push” marketing strategy doesn’t work with social media. You’ve got to create a “pull” by introducing content or conversations your audience is interested in, otherwise they simply won’t listen. They’ll hide you on Facebook, unfollow you on Twitter and block your comments on blogs – rendering your hard work utterly useless. Increase the success of your efforts by discarding the promotional “push” campaign and instead focusing on thoughtful and meaningful messages tailored specifically to your audience.
- Ask yourself, “What is my target market interested in? What would they want to read? What do they search for? How can I entertain?”
- Be a person, not a business. Blending in YOU (and what you do) with a friendly and personal tone makes you more enjoyable to follow.
- Pose Questions. Ask your audience what they think about a topic. This helps stimulate one-on-one Interactions and humanize your approach.
- Play Nice. By sharing relevant content from other users with your audience, they’ll return the favor in droves and further your reach.
It pays to be interesting to your followers, but it pays more to be interested in your followers. Engaging in social media is all about helping, sharing interesting exchanges, making things happen and building community – in other words HUMANIZING your brand’s story.
When you truly connect with your target market in social media, great things can happen. You’ll find your interactions are more effortless, that you’re getting more bang for your social media buck, and your audience will be eager for your interaction. You may even uncover the coveted “viral” marketing effect when your message is forwarded feverishly by members of your target market.
Long story short — it pays to pay close attention to your target market in social media.
Jessica Lybeck is the Founder of Till Creative, a marketing strategy firm based in Chicago. She helps businesses and entrepreneurs focus, develop and market their big ideas. If you are just starting to dip your toe in the social media waters, or would like to tweak your current campaign, you can learn more about social media strategy at www.tillcreative.com.
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