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How to Research and Locate Your Audience Using Social Media
If you are new to social media marketing, you can be at a bit of a disadvantage when you compare yourself to brands who have more experience in this area than you. After all, they have seen how platforms can change over the years, and they have experienced what happens when new platforms come into play. On the other hand, you have the benefit of starting from scratch and building your social media presence the right way. This can be easier than rebuilding a social media strategy and presence that isn’t working very well.
The best way to get started is by gathering data and asking the right questions. This allows you to define your audience, figure out which social media platforms they will be using, and determining the best way to reach them. This guide is a great place to start, as it will walk you through the process in a series of steps.
Get Into the Details of Your Target Markets
Start With Demographics
Age, geographic location, gender, level of education completed, income, marital status, family size, this isn’t the most exciting information to gather, but it is extremely important. This information gives you the foundation that you need in order to understand your target markets. Remember that you are going to be creating personas. How can you do that, if you don’t have the most basic information about these personas?
- Are the people interested in your products male, female, or both?
- What is the age range of your potential customers?
- Are they local to you or in other locations?
- Are they urban, rural, suburban, or a mix?
- Are they homeowners?
- Do they have plenty of spare income or do they live on a budget?
Next, Think About Interests
Of course, you can’t rely solely on demographics. You have to consider what it is that is unique about your product, and how that impacts the details of your target audience’s interests.For example, people in nearly every age range and income group are interested in travel. If you have a travel business, that doesn’t necessarily mean that your target market is everyone. If you focus on adventure travel and ecotourism, Baby Boomers might not be your audience. If you focus on the cruise industry, they very well might be your premier target audience. Once again, you can get the information you need by asking the right questions.
- What do members of my target markets do in their spare time?
- On which things and experiences are they willing to spend money?
- What television shows do they watch?
- Where do they go to get their news and other information?
- What books do they read?
- What are the kinds of websites they are most likely to bookmark?
Understanding the Psychology of Your Target Customers
Understanding Their Values
What social causes do your customers support? Are they politically active? Are they likely to have any religious affiliation that might drive their behavior? What are they going to want to see in your brand that reflects your understanding of their values? What is important to them?
Knowing What Scares Them Angers and Makes Them Happy
Emotions drive actions. Understanding your target customers’ fears, can help you to determine how your product or service can play a role in allaying those fears. Understanding what angers them allows you to understand what you need to do to build trust. Knowing what makes them happy can help you to tailor their experience on your social media sites accordingly.
Understanding What Drives Them Away
You can’t create an effective social media marketing effort without understanding your audience’s turn offs. For example, if your target audience is millennials, they are likely to be turned off by high pressure sales tactics. An older, more conservative audience might be turned off by an irreverent approach.
What about Potential Customers?
One of the great opportunities that you have when creating your social media presence, identifying your target customers, and figuring out where you need to be engaging them is that you can consider growth. What are the markets that you want to target in the future? How do you begin to position yourself now, to be able to reach out to them on social media in the future?
Let’s say that you make educational toys and games for children. Your target market right now might be parents of children under ten, who are college educated, who are interested in social causes that impact kids, and who are turned off by the marketing tactics of large toy companies. That’s your focus now. What if you want to grow into other markets? You might want to lay the groundwork now that will allow you to reach out to teachers, school administrators, and tutoring centers if you want to expand your market to those in the educational industry.
Take a Look at Your Competitors
While you certainly want to create your own brand identity online, you can certainly learn from the successes and failures of your competitors. Visit their social media profiles. What content are they producing or sharing that is getting engagement? Who are their most active and responsive audience members? Which of their posts aren’t getting any traction. Look them up on sites such as BuzzSumo to find out where they are trending.
You can also benefit from checking out how they are using influencers. Who are they following? Are they using guest bloggers? Finally, what types of content are they using? Is it highly visual? Are they curating lots of feel good content? What about eBooks or whitepapers? Now, go back to your target markets and use this new information to add or modify what you already have. For example, your competitive analysis might prove that there are additional interests your customers have that you had not considered.
Give All of Your Target Markets an Identity
It really does help to think of each of the target customers that you have identified as its own persona. Put pen to paper, and create a person or customer profile. For example:
Steve (names are optional) is a 22 year old college student. He’s interested in mountain biking, horror movies, netflix, and working out. He’s single, lives in an apartment, and works in retail. He won’t spend money until he determines that the company has environmentally friendly policies. He volunteers at an animal shelter once or twice a month. He’s most likely to follow a brand on social media if their content is humorous, but also shows a concern for social justice issues.
Identify the Types of Content That Will Engage Your Audience
Once you have your customer profiles down pat, you can start creating your content base. This will give you a rich stockpile of good content that you can start with. This will allow you to focus on publishing and promoting that content. Use your personas and your research to determine what your customers will find engaging. You have plenty of options. There are blog posts, infographics, eBooks, how to articles, whitepapers, videos, live streaming content, shared content from other sources, trending news and entertainment content, interviews, roundups, AMA sessions, and more. The idea is to figure out the content that your audience craves and that you can successfully create or curate.
Of course, the process of creating, promoting, and sharing content can be daunting. Fortunately, there are plenty of tools that can help.
- SmartPaperHelp.com– a great online resource for content creation, editing, and proofreading
- Meerkat- for creating live streaming content for your audience
- Hemingway- will help you to improve your writing
- SlideShare- great for curating and sharing presentations
- Canva- to create great visual content
- Hootsuite- a tool for scheduling posts
- Alltop- to help you identify trending topics
Now Get Your Content Out There and Start Building Relationships
You know who your target audience members are. You know where they hang out on the internet. You know their habits, interests, beliefs, and motivations. You’ve created a good base of content that you can use to get started, and you’ve got some tools to help you succeed.
Your next step is to select the platforms where you will be active this part should be easy as your research should give you a pretty good idea of where your audience is. Of course, as always platforms are evolving and new ones come on the scene quite frequently. Some of your options such as Facebook and Twitter have mass appeal. Then there are platforms like Snapchat and Tumblr that have more appeal to younger audiences. If your content is going to be largely visual, you’ll want to build a presence on Instagram and pinterest. YouTube is a great option if you will be producing video content, but don’t ignore other options such as Vimeo.
The success of your social media marketing efforts is very much dependent upon the research and leg work you do at the beginning of the process. Knowing who your customers are, how to reach them, and where to reach them is absolutely imperative.
Image Credits: Bigstockphoto