The mistake that many businesses make with social media is spending time and money on creating content, without first understanding their target audience — the people who are most likely to be interested in what your business offers.
It may seem logical to think that it’s best to ‘cast a wide net, and see what fish you catch’. That may have been true when social media was first created. But these days, it won’t work. Consumers are bombarded with so much content these days, that they have little patience for content that isn’t instantly interesting to their individual tastes.
People use social media for a range of reasons, but ultimately they gather in places that support their beliefs and lifestyle. An overly general ad that doesn’t resonate only comes across as spam, which makes brands look bad.
That’s why it’s essential to have a very clear understanding of your target audience. Social listening — monitoring social media channels for mentions of your brand, product and other related keywords, let you understand your audience so you can create content that engages them. This article explores how to go about doing that effectively.
A Social Media Management tool gives you so much more than saving time by being able to post content from a single Dashboard. You’ll also have the ability to keyword search multiple social channels that are mentioning your competitors and the products or services you offer.
Understanding your competitors is the foundation. Not only to get ideas about what does and doesn’t work for website and marketing content in your industry but because it gives you a good look at consumer behavior before you put time into creating social content of your own.
Learn more about competitor analysis: Need-to-Know Social Media Management Tips.
Two other important data tools are:
Both resources are free. Although Facebook Insights gets costly for more advanced features, you won’t need those to start with.
Interlaced with these three tools, but a powerful tactic all on it’s own, is keyword research. Doing this right will yield invaluable insights into your target audience. Learn more: The Guide To Keyword Research.
A final tip for gaining customer insights is to regularly conduct A/B Testing — by trying out different types of content and monitoring the performance results, over time you’ll get better and better at hitting the right note with your target audience.
Your performance insights will grow over time, as consumers engage with your content. We advise you to continue updating a target audience data spreadsheet regularly, because this will help you identify new niches over time
While understanding your competitors and industry is your insight foundation, the architecture is data about your target audience. A good Social Media Management tool will come with great audience analytics built in. You’ll be able to search for key metrics like relevant hashtags and brand mentions.
Let’s look at the difference between target audience information and personas. Both are important in steering the content you create on social media to engage people.
Your company’s target audience will be defined by these core data points:
Some marketers list education as an important data point, but that’s a very old-school (no pun intended) way of thinking. These days formal education is a weak indication of a person’s standing, given the explosion of online courses almost anyone has easy access to.
Once you know the demographics of your target audience, you can start to dive deep into their pain points, and how your product or service will solve them.
This type of information is more cemented than social media target audience data. What you’ll notice as you’re detailing age, location etc. in your spreadsheet, is that certain groups emerge. From these groups, you’ll be able to create fictional characters that represent them, which gives a human face to the demographic data.
That’s what buyer personas are. They help you finetune your target audience types, as well as allowing you to hone in on each of their likes and pain points. The result is being able to create content that really speaks to specific types of people.
For example, a group emerging from your target audience data could be retired men in their 60s who live in America and frequently spend large amounts of money on health and fitness products. So your buyer persona to cover this demographic would be:
He is in his 60s and retired, so has lots of free time to pursue his interest in keeping fit. He lives in a house in the suburbs, with a gym in his garage. He also likes outdoor activities. Bob buys expensive health and fitness products. His pain point is advancing age. He is willing to spend large sums on quality items that help him continue to enjoy life to the fullest.
Learn more: Actionable Guide to Marketing Personas.
While social monitoring is about gaining insight by analyzing metrics, like keyword mentions, click throughs and engagement rate, social listening brings in the human factor. It focuses on the ‘mood’ or sentiment context of data.
Once you’ve discovered who your target audience segments are, and have started to publish content so you can analyze performance results, social listening is the next level. It will help you create ongoing brand loyalty with people who buy from your business..
For example, a number of your customers may mention that they don’t like the excessive amounts of plastic in your packaging because they care about the environment. You could find a new supplier that uses paper packaging, and announce the change. People like to feel listened to, it’s a sure way to engage them to recommend your brand to their friends and family.
Understanding how people feel about your brand and your competitors also helps you get an idea of upcoming trends, as well as a great steer on how to respond in the right way to customer feedback.
Social listening lets you directly engage with your customers. In a noisy online world where most companies compete globally, this can make all the difference in helping you stand out as a brand to be remembered. This is especially important for small businesses, who can’t match the ginormous advertising budgets of large companies.
Another key factor which makes social listening so valuable is that people hate being sold to straight away. By responding to comments with useful information, you have the opportunity to develop relationships with people, which makes them receptive to later promotions.
Learn more: What is Social Listening, Why It Matters, and How to Do It.
Creating social media content without being clear about your target audience is like shooting arrows in the dark. By taking the time to gain the right insights, your return on investment will be vastly improved.
Set a strong foundation by using your social media manager tool to search for keywords people are using across multiple channels that relate to your business, using a central Dashboard. It will also give you ongoing performance data across all your channels so you can continue fine-tuning your content.
Google Analytics, Facebook, keywords search know-how, and A/B testing are added valuable ways to gather invaluable insights into your target audience.
We also explained the difference between a target audience and buyer personas. Both hard data and human personality are needed to enable your business to resonate with people who would be interested in the products or services you offer.
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