Now that you’re focused on achieving a few simple social media goals, it is time to do a little more digging before posting anything, and define who exactly you need to talk to in order to fulfill your social media goals.
Segment Your Social Media Audience
To match your social media goals, you need to segment your potential audience, so that you know what message to send, and to whom:
What you ought to know about social media users
This may be news to some, but audiences can be very different from one social network to another. If you look at the graphics below, you can see for instance that Tumblr and Instagram have about 50% more young users (16-24 yo.) than LinkedIn.
Consequently, if you’d like to reach this age group, the benefits of communicating to this age group may double - or be cut in half - depending of which social network you’re targeting.
Create Social Media Audience Subgroups
The rules of social audience segmentation also apply to gender, education level, ethnic background, or even political preferences.
For instance, 64% of LinkedIn users have a Bachelor’s degree or higher, a number that falls to 23% on Youtube, as you can see on the below chart from the Pew Research Center.
This goes to show that audience segmentation is nothing trivial, as it may impact any and all of you social media strategies in the long term.
Since you’re still early in this process, you’d be well inspired to take this stage seriously and do your homework before you spend more time and resources chasing social media success.
Survey Your Customers
Concretely, there are quite a few ways to find, segment and target your audience on social media to maximize the impact and ROI of your social media actions.
An effective way to get to know your social audience is simply to ask your existing customers about their online and social habits. There are a number of options to do this both physically and virtually.
If you own a walk-in store or business location, you could organize a survey-based promotion, for instance let customers fill up a paper form to enter a sweepstakes contest.
If you operate an online-based business, you can use email to ask a few straightforward questions, or craft a quick survey using free online tools such as Google Forms, SurveyMonkey or similar tools.
Find High-potential Social Media Audiences
Your existing clients and potential customers are not the only social audience you should be interested in. Influential bloggers, specialized journalists, industry leaders, as well as your own suppliers and partners are all specific audience groups you should know about.
Find Social Audiences On Facebook
Using the “Find Friends” button or "People that like <topic of interest>" function are great starting point to connect with high-potential social media groups on Facebook.
Find Social Audiences On Twitter
Twitter has a special search URL that will let you spot prime twitter accounts and handles related to your business. For instance, if you’re operating a food truck in the streets of New York, you can find great Twitter resources to follow and get followed by.
Find Social Audiences On Linkedin
You can also use the advanced search function on LinkedIn to find potential connections, successful influencers and competitors.
Leverage Social Media Ad Platforms
Whether or not you plan to spend money in social media advertising, major social networks like Facebook and Twitter can give you tremendous insight on your audience size and potential reach.
For instance, you can use the Facebook Ads module to find out the actual size of a potential social media audience segment by crafting and ad for your business page without spending a dime.
Talk To Your Ideal Social Media Audience
The easiest way to go about defining your audience is to characterize it, literally. As John Lee Dumas puts it, you need to unleash your business avatar by imagining the perfect audience personae you want to address.
Is it a man or a woman? How old is he/she? Where does he/she live? And so on, until you can mentally picture your “avatar” sitting in front of you, ready to hear whatever it is you have to say.
As a small business or startup, you just won’t have the resources to fire in all directions at once, so the obvious solution is to focus on a group of customers which will best enable you to fulfill your objectives.
Focusing on your “business avatar” you will still need to further identify subgroups such as decision-makers, influencers, or buyers.
“You can’t get too narrowly focused when you first start” says Dumas, who strongly refutes the idea that concentrating on a clear-cut profile will leave most of your customer base left out, as you’ll feel more comfortable to address them as if you were talking face to face.
Social Media Audience Key Take-Aways
- Getting to know your current and potential social media audience is a crucial step in developing an efficient and successful social media strategy.
- You can find out more about your social media audience by studying how your clients, partners, suppliers and competitors behave on social networks.
- Building an ideal social media personae is a great shortcut to define your own style and build a long lasting brand development strategy.
- There are many tools available that can help you find precious insights on who your potential customers are, learning to use them will give a tremendous edge over competitors on social networks.
Social Media Audience Digest
- The Pew Research Center has interesting and stats-filled research about Demographics of Key Social Networking Platforms and The Demographics of Social Media Users.
- Rich Brooks recaps key points and shares basic tips to jumpstart your social audience research.
- Mashable can tell you more about growing your social media audience, and answers other strategic issues such as “Agency vs. In-House” social media management.
MarketingLand shares actionable tips on how to segment your social audience.