In today’s digital age, you need to be on top of social media marketing, but, with so many social media platforms in play, it can be challenging to find the right way of approaching your target audience. This is largely due to businesses not taking the time to research their target audience with the wide variety of tools available to them — such as social media.
Market Research Using Social Media
Even if you have an amazing marketing campaign, you can’t run it successfully unless you can reach your target audience through the kind of medium they feel comfortable with. This is why knowing how to conduct market research to find your target audience using social media is an absolutely crucial skill your business simply can’t do without.
Defining Your Target Audience
The first step of market research is defining your target audience. This includes being aware of its behavioral habits, motivations, preferred media and platforms, interests, and the general characteristics shared by individuals who are interested in what you are offering.
Without a target audience, it’s almost impossible to develop an effective marketing strategy. Preconceived ideas about your audience can often differ from reality or include surprising niches you didn’t consider.
To be sure your marketing campaigns are effective, you need to be absolutely sure they are reaching the people they should be.
Who Is Your Perfect Audience Persona?
How do you picture the perfect clients? What characteristics do they have? Think about their age, where they’re from, their employment, and what kinds of stores they visit or pets they own. Now make a list of the individual characteristics you think they have.
This is your Ideal Customer Persona. You can use these criteria to find the social media outlets that your ideal customer might frequent. So, how do you know who uses what?
What Social Media Platforms Does Your Audience Use?
All social media sites host a wide range of people with different personas, but even they have larger quantities of people who share certain characteristics. We’ve broken down the four biggest players in the social networking game and the recommended approaches to take with each, below:
Facebook is used by an estimated 60 percent of Americans — it is, without a doubt, the largest social media network today. It hosts the largest range of users, making it hard to pin down a certain persona, but it is generally accepted to be about fun, leisurely experiences and social networking
Best of all, Facebook users will voluntarily give you an excessive amount of information themselves — for free. Facebook also has a range of tools designed to allow you to target your perfect audience, whether it is based on age, location, interests, or basically anything else you can think of, making it one of the best platforms for pinpointing the perfect target audience. Facebook advertising can even assist you in finding and suggesting people with similar traits to your customers.
YouTube also hosts a wide range of personas, but Youtube visitors share the trait of being attracted to visual media and being willing to invest time in what they’re viewing, unlike Facebook users, who are far more likely to just glance and scroll.
Instagram is all about photos. Everything on Instagram is about photography and static images, and Instagram users are usually interested in anything visually appealing. Instagram users are more likely to be conscious of their appearance and interested in any products related to this. Successful advertisements on Instagram include endorsements, engaging photographs, and direct links.
LinkedIn is the most popular social media platform for professional services and networking. Here, your audience consists of, almost exclusively, white-collar professionals of all levels, who do not appreciate being exposed to non-professional services and products through LinkedIn.
Twitter has a very specific culture that focuses on short, punchy messages (180 characters or less, to be exact), often resulting in more specific language use, such as tagging, acronyms, and “text language,” as users try to fit more information into short phrases.
To find your perfect target audience, Twitter also offers audience targeting options similar to Facebook, such as gender, interest, follower, device, keyword, behavior, and geography tagging, among others.
Where Does Your Audience Spend Its Time?
Most of your audience will be using more than one social media network. Find out where your target audience spends most of its time. This will make your marketing campaign much more efficient as you can invest more in the areas that host most of your ideal customer personas and less or none on those that don’t.
Finding Out More About Your Audience
Now that you have an idea of who should be listening, find out who is listening and why they are. By analyzing your current data, you can see what works and what doesn’t and create the rest of your Client Personas. Remember, you should constantly be analyzing the data and updating your personas to better reflect your audience types. Finding out more about your audience will also help you tap into those niches you never thought about, as well as improve your marketing customization for better conversion rates.
Social Conversation Mining
So, how do you find out what kind of content will resonate with your audience? Easy. See what they’re talking about. Strategies such as viewing content with high backlinks, keyword searches, Google AdWords estimates, and assessing publications for relevant content are essential, but nothing beats quantifying what people are actually talking about. Using a tool like a topic cloud also gives you an insight into the specific wording used, the key drivers behind conversations, and the questions being asked.
This one is simple. What’s trending? Sites like Facebook will actively inform you about real-time trending topics. Don’t let a resource like this go to waste. Make your content relevant by keeping up with trends, especially by including plenty of SEO keywords. Using social listening can also give you an advantageous edge and help you become a leader in a trending topic, rather than a follower. This will also allow you to research what your audience responds the most to, and help add some color to your ideal user persona.
Sometimes, it’s necessary to admit you may not be the person people want to listen to. So, how do you convert people that you know would be interested in what you have to say? Find out the people they already listen to. If you have a choice of two restaurants for dinner, and a friend you trust recommends one, are you more likely to dine there? It’s the same with your audience. Focusing on engaging a single key influencer can often be the key to overcoming the engagement barrier for a whole new audience.
Seriously. Ask them. Give your audience an opportunity not just to receive communications from you but to send some back. You can engage with clients directly, set up surveys, enable reviews, promote sharing, set up a reward system based on feedback, and just generally encourage feedback in any of its forms. What your clients think is one of your most valuable resources when it comes to creating engaging content. Ask your audience what it wants and listen to them—they’ll tell you exactly what you need to do to create more suitable and engaging content.
Look at Similar Sites
Your competitors might have the right idea. If you ever wonder if you’re on the right track, having a sneak peek at what similar sites are doing is usually a sure-fire way to confirm it. Of course, doing something different doesn’t necessarily mean you’re not; someone has to lead new trends, after all. However, if you’re feeling unsure or maybe a little stuck, there is nothing wrong with drawing inspiration from your competitors’ ideas.
Use the Right Tools
To help you achieve some of the goals we’ve outlined above, we’ve also put together a short list of useful tools for the purpose.
- Social Crawlytics: This tool can tell you how many times a web page has been shared on social media pages.
- BuzzSumo: This tool will help you find popular content. You can search by topic or on a specific website.
- Heat-map: This tool will tell you exactly which part of your page viewers spend the most time looking at.
- Personapp: This tool helps you map your client personas quickly and easily, without bogging you down in too many details.
- Facebook Audience Insights: This tool lets you create any kind of target demographic you can imagine (well, maybe not quite, but almost!). As suggested by the name, this tool is only for Facebook.
- Followerwonk: Basically, the same as Facebook Audience Insights but for Twitter.
That’s it. You’re ready. You’ve got your to-do list and a list of useful tools to help you. The only thing left is to get started. You won’t regret getting to know your audience.
Getting it wrong on social media can sometimes make your business seem impersonal or detached, but, with the right approach, you can show your audience members you understand them and their needs, and, most importantly, that you care.
Dart Photo via Shutterstock
While it’s cool to use all this technology and tools, do not forget to talk to customers (and prospective customers) on a regular basis. Data can become very impersonal.
One of the things that I love about advertising on social media is that you can define the target audience. And it is not just about demographics but interests as well.
People also use social media such as SnapChat as well, if your target market is aimed towards mainly towards younger audiences.