Developing a clear understanding of your social media target audience may be the most important thing you do as a social media marketer. Your target audience informs all elements of your social media strategy.
Here’s a hint before we dig in: Your target audience is not “everyone” (unless you’re Google). Your task in defining your social media audience is to identify and understand your niche so you can dominate it.
Audience research will help you craft relevant content, messaging, and ads. All of this can lead to higher conversion rates and better social media ROI. Of course, these are key metrics for all social marketers (and marketing bosses).
How to find your social media target audience
Social media audience research isn’t complicated. It’s mainly about narrowing your focus while expanding your reach.
We’ve created a free social media audience research template to help you keep track of all the information you learn as you conduct your research.
1. Compile data on your existing customers and social media audience
Who most wants to engage with you on social media? Start with the people already buying from you, following you, and interacting with your posts. Some data points you might want to consider are:
- Age: You don’t need to get too specific here. Focus on learning which decade of life your social media target audience is in, or their generation.
- Location (and time zone): Where in the world does your social media audience live? This helps you understand which geographic areas to target. You’ll also learn what hours are most important for your customer service and sales reps to be online. And when you should schedule your social ads and posts to ensure best visibility.
- Language: What language does your target audience speak? Don’t assume it’s your language. And don’t assume they speak the dominant language of their current physical location.
- Spending power and patterns: How much money does your target audience for social media sites have to spend? How do they approach purchases in your price category? Do they have specific financial concerns or preferences you need to address?
- Interests: What does your target audience like to do? What TV shows do they watch? What other businesses do they interact with?
- Challenges: What pain points is your social media audience dealing with?
- Stage of life: Does your social media target audience include college students? New parents? Parents of teens? Retirees?
B2B companies should also consider:
- Size of business: What kinds of businesses buy from and engage with you? Are they start-ups or enterprise-level brands?
- Who tends to make the buying decisions: Are you targeting the CEO? The CTO? The social marketing manager?
Social media analytics provide much of this information. Facebook Audience Insights can be particularly helpful.
Your own customer database can also provide a wealth of information. You can’t assume that your overall customer demographics will match your target audience for social media sites. But understanding who’s already buying from you can help you understand who’s most likely to be interested in your social channels.
If you’re not already, now would be a great time to incorporate UTM codes into social posts, either manually or using a social media management platform like Hootsuite. This will allow you to gather information about who clicks on your content using Google Analytics.
2. Use social listening to find conversations about your brand
Social listening is a key way to uncover conversations about your business, your industry, and your products. Monitoring relevant keywords and hashtags reveal what people are saying about you and your competitors online, even when you’re not tagged.
Reaching out in response to these social posts is a great way to find your target audience on social media, even if they’re not yet following you.
You can also use social listening for deeper social media audience research. As you monitor keywords and hashtags, you may uncover other relevant hashtags your audience uses. You can then test adding these hashtags to your social posts to extend your reach to more relevant users.
3. Research which social channels your audience uses
Now you have a sense of who your audience might be and what they’re talking about online. So it’s time to find out where they already spend their time on social media. There are a couple of tools you can use to find this information.
4. Check out the competition
Odds are, your social media audience overlaps with that of your competitors. So it’s worth checking out what they’re doing so you can benefit from the lessons they’ve already learned. Are they reaching segments you hadn’t thought to consider? How are they positioning themselves?
Here are a couple of helpful tools:
We talked about search streams for monitoring keywords and hashtags above, but they’re also a great way to keep an eye on what your competition is up to.
In your social media management dashboard, set up streams to monitor your competition’s social posts and look for patterns in hashtags, post type, and content strategy.
To dig deeper, check out our step-by-step guide on how to do competitor research on social media. It walks you through the best ways to use social tools to gather competitor insights.
5. Understand what your target audience wants from your social channels
First, you need to make sure you have a rock-solid understanding of how your product or service makes your audience’s life:
- or just more interesting.
Does it solve their challenges? Address specific pain points? Help them meet their goals?
If you don’t already have a clear list of the benefits of your product, it’s time to start brainstorming now. Creating benefit statements automatically involves stating some basic information about your target demographic.
Next, start to think about how you can create value for your audience through your social channels. Some key questions to consider:
- What are your audience’s main purchasing barriers, and how can you help overcome them?
- Where are your followers at in their buying journey? Are they researching or ready to buy? Looking for reviews?
- What kind of content does your audience tend to engage with?
If you’re having trouble figuring out exactly what your social audience wants to see on your social channels, you could always ask them.
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