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The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide To Finding Your Audience In Social Media
Social media marketing platforms are constantly evolving, so newcomers are at a disadvantage compared to those who’ve been around the social media block over the last decade. There are more platforms to learn, more features to leverage, and larger audiences to engage.
For small or new businesses venturing into social media marketing for the first time, focusing on the fundamentals is key. In this two-part series, we’ll do just that. Read on for a guide to getting started, including defining your target market and choosing the right channels to reach them.
Step 1: Defining Your Target Market
Before diving into anything, start by defining your target consumer.
Demographics are important, but key insights into the what type of person they are, their likes and dislikes, etc., will give you stronger direction later for creating engaging content.
If you’re like most small businesses, you likely don’t have a professionally developed marketing strategy with personas defined for your target consumers. The great news is, these don’t take a rocket scientist (or professional marketer) to create!
Start With The Easy Stuff: Demographics
Putting pen to paper and defining the more obvious characteristics of your audience is the best place to start. If you’re not familiar with these key characteristics of your target market, you’ll be lost in the long term. For an HVAC repair business, your target customer might be a homeowner. Homeowner: it’s a start, but wouldn’t tell a writer much about how to craft content your audience will appreciate.
To further define the demographics, ask yourself the following questions, thinking of the customers that currently drive most of your business today.
How expensive is your product or service? Do your customers need to fall into a certain income class to afford you?
Is your product or service specifically for men or women? If either, think about your typical customer. What is their typical age? Are they married? Do they have a family? Who makes the purchasing decisions?
Where is your target customer physically located? Are they local to you? In the neighborhood or neighboring town? Do you have an online store and want to appeal to customers across the country? Do you have a storefront or do you travel to your customers to provide service?
Is your product or service ethnically neutral? Does it appeal to people of a certain ethnicity?
By the end of this Q&A exercise, aim to have the following key demographics outlined: age, gender, location, income level, occupation, marital/family status, ethnicity and education level.
Now, What Makes Them Tick? Defining Psychographics
Now that you’ve nailed down the basic information about your target market, it’s time to start thinking about who they are as people. This is the key step to crafting appropriate content for your social media marketing, blogging strategy, and even your traditional marketing efforts.
I’ve found that many small business owners can get lost in the idea of psychographically defining their typical consumer. To guide this thought process, collaborate with your front-line employees — those who work most directly with your customers — and ask the following questions:
What are your customers’ likes and dislikes and what does that tell you about them?
What types of television shows do they watch? What magazines or website might they read?
What are their values?
What kind of lifestyle do they lead? How does your product or service fit into their lifestyle?
In this exercise, you should also look at your product or service. These questions can help you better understand your target customer:
What features appeal to your current customers the most?
When do they use the product (or hire you for the service)?
Do they use it in a certain way?
Aspirational Customers: Not Today, Maybe Someday
If you’re looking to expand business (perhaps you’re more of a novice than a beginner), think about your “aspirational customers.” An aspirational customer is someone who may not buy your product or service today, but perhaps this is the kind of business you’d like to do more of.
Our original example of an HVAC repair company may consider business owners as aspirational customers because they would like to do more commercial business, which is more lucrative than residential.
Perform the same two Q&A sessions above for your aspirational customer. Remember to keep this separate. You might not use this target market in your immediate marketing strategy, but defining it is the first step to achieving your goals!
2 Pro Tips For DIY Defining Your Target Market
If you get stumped at any of the above steps, take a look at one of your competitors that performs well. If they are already doing any social media marketing, review their content and strategy to look for clues as to whom they believe their target customer really is.
Write it all down. Once you’ve outlined your demo and psychographics, you might realize you have several target customers. Give each of them a name and persona. This will help you (or whomever helps with your creative) relate to them and craft effective content.
Step 2: Choose The Right Networks To Reach Them
One of my favorite infographics of all time, puts a purr-fectly matched personality to each social network (pun intended).
There is a vast menu of social networks at a marketer’s disposal today. Truly knowing your target audience will help you select the proper networks to reach them.
BI Intelligence recently released a report on demographics of social network users. Business Insider reported on the results, including some of the key takeaways:
Fast-moving consumer goods will perform better on Facebook than luxury goods because the user base skews younger.
Twitter is primarily a news source for its users.
Pinterest is the place to be for food and drink related products or content, as well as family or parenting content.
Instagram’s audience is primarily female (with projections to even out by 2016) and between the ages of 18 and 44. Clothing, accessories and entertainment-related brands find Instagram attractive for this reason.
Coming up in my next column, we’ll review beginners’ steps to starting up your content strategy, best practices, and how to stay organized!
(Stock image via Shutterstock.com. Used under license.)
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