This is the second of a series of blog posts about developing a social media strategy for your business. If you’d like to read the first post about setting objectives, click here
Understanding your audience
So you’ve identified what you want to achieve by using social media, so now let’s look at who your target market is. Whatever your type of business, brand or non-profit, your social media efforts are putting your content and conversation out there to someone. This stage is about identifying who that someone is.
Why is it important to think about your customers?
- Knowing which social networks they use mean you can reach them there without wasting time in the wrong place
- Understanding their interests and behaviour will help you engage them with varied content and add value to their time spent on social
- Appreciating the language and tone that helps effective communication is important and encourages new followers
- If you know what their circumstances or problems are you can position you product or service to help or improve things
If you ignore this part of the strategy process, you could be at risk of broadcasting content that you think is interesting but find your engagement and reach statistics tell a different story.
Don’t advertise pet food in a tattoo parlour
This might just be my favourite new social media analogy! Anyway, lets imagine for a second you’re a pet food manufacturer….
Now, you wouldn’t put a poster up about your pet food in a tattoo parlour would you? Or a nail bar. Or a computer store. No, you’d obviously be more likely to reach your intended audience in a vets waiting room or pet store. (Unless your market was particularly niche!)
Of course, a portion of the people who visit the tattoo parlour, nail bar and computer store will have pets, will notice the poster and remember your brand. But this is not a good way to invest your marketing budget because everyone who visits the pet store or vets waiting room will own a pet and so therefore your chance of successfully reaching your target market is pretty high here. Furthermore, without thinking about your customers other interests besides pets, you might find yourself becoming repetitive with endless updates about how great your pet food is which will become rather boring to you audience. And then they won’t be your audience for long!
Social media has to be a cost effective strategy for your business and you’ll never find a return on your investment if you don’t direct your time and efforts correctly at the start.
Reach your customers through social media
Lets stick with the pet food analogy. They would be better off looking at networks such as Facebook where visual content is strong, rather than bothering with LinkedIn where no one is looking for pet related content. They could build better brand awareness by communicating with real and potential customers in the space where people share photos of their pets, not where they look for jobs.
Think about your customers in terms of demographic factors and psychographic factors:
Demographic factors = age, gender, family, occupation, income, education, etc.
Psychographic factors = personality, values, opinions, attitudes, interests, etc.
This will help you start to understand your customers in a different context and therefore improve how you would communicate with them online. If you’re the business owner you will know this stuff inside out already, but do all of your employees? Anyone who handles marketing and communications for the business would benefit from doing this exercise to ensure that brand messages remain on point.
Visualise your customers and draw them – a few stick people will do – and think about some particular types of customers you have (or want!). You will find yourself stereotyping a fair bit here but forgive yourself for the higher purpose of marketing.
List their demographic and psychographic factors – start with some basics such as: Where do they live? How old are they? What is their family situation?
Then think about: What are their interests and concerns? Are they confident/shy? A leader or a follower?
Start to create audience personas that you can keep and build on. (I like to give them a name as this helps with remembering advertising targets.) This analysis will help inform not only the content you create and share, but the language you use online and how you target certain content to different customer types.
Customer analysis will lead to improved content strategy and engagement
Obviously big business will have the budget for market research companies to do this for them in depth, but I’m talking about smaller businesses here.
For example, as a result of your customer analysis you might identify that your target customer for the pet food product was a retired female:
Customer 1: Lets call her Norah – Female, 60 years old, married, owns her own home, has grown up children and grandchildren, has savings, owns a dog.
Focus your marketing efforts on Facebook – she uses this to connect with family
Post during the daytime – she does’t work and logs on during the day
Share content about pets, animal nutrition, travelling with pets, pet accessories, gardening or walking – likely interests that may or may not directly involve pets
Avoid modern day jargon or colloquialisms that could alienate her and focus on building brand trust
Remember that social media activity should always be sincere and open and if you communicate online with your customers in the same way that you would in person, you’re doing it right. And it’s really important to monitor your analytics to see what content works with you customers and what doesn’t and learn more about them this way. But we’ll get to that in a later blog post!
My next post in this series will look at social networks and how to decide which ones to focus on.