There are so many social networks nowadays, and according to different sources, each one is the most important to your business.
Now, as a busy sole entrepreneur, or even as a digital marketing manager who’s faced with time and budget constraints, where do you invest those resources? You can’t be on every network. Well, technically you can, but that will be very inefficient, unproductive and, most likely, unsuccessful.
So, how do you find, reach, and refine your ideal target market on social media?
1. Define your target
You’ve probably heard it so much, you are sick of this advice. Yet, there is no getting away from the basics. If you want to have a successful business, you need to know who you are trying to serve and where you can reach them with your messages.
Once you outline major demographics, dig deeper and zoom in on their needs, wants, preferences, lifestyles and pain points. Ask yourself why they need your offering in the first place. This will not only help you effectively find them online, but also powerfully craft your messages.
2. User demographics on different networks
Now that you know who you are looking for, let’s find them online. There are a lot of both anecdotal and statistical data online about major demographics for each respective network. Have a highly aesthetic product that is geared towards women? Use Pinterest. Want to reach millennials? Instagram is your best bet. Wondering where you can catch up with older populations? Facebook is becoming their network of choice.
Start with two –- three at the very maximum -- platforms and begin shaping your presence there. Make sure that your brand experience is true and aligned with your audience, so they feel an instant connection and want to follow you.
3. Look at your major competition
If you’re just starting out, or perhaps, want to get an insider scoop, look at the big players in your industry. There is nothing wrong with checking out who they are following and who’s following them back.
If you are in a construction / home improvement business, check out Lowe’s and Home Depot. If your product is organic, see what Whole Foods Market and Natural Grocers are up to online. If you are about “fast fashion” at affordable prices, hang out with H&M and Forever 21 crowds.
Make sure, though, that these companies and brands have a truly similar niche. If your product offers something different or additional, you want to be careful. If you are charging a premium price, don’t look at competition with cheaper and/or discounted prices. If your company is about more than selling and has a social stance to offer, then try overlaying those different audiences.
4. Look at the insights.
Do not forget to dive into your audiences’ statistics once in a while. Many major networks, such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram, offer at least basic insights into your following.
See how effective you are in attracting the right “tribe.” If your product is for middle-aged women and your following mostly consists of young men, you are definitely doing something wrong. It could be the messages, the branding, or both.
Plus, many of those same networks offer an insight into your audiences’ interests, which presents a sea of opportunity to your brand. You could use this information to “branch out” with content you are sharing. For example, people interested in healthy eating oftentimes are interested in fitness as well. People interested in fashion are usually interested in beauty products too. You can experiment with new topics, so you have more touchpoints with your consumers and more ideas for creating content.
Another way you can leverage this information is by examining what other brands and/or competitors your audience is interested in. You can then:
- again, see what those brands are doing online,
- target their followers with your messages and ads,
- reach out to create a strategic partnership.
Finally, you might find this information surprising at times. Examine any inconsistencies or quirky brand affinities. Leverage that knowledge to your benefit by following the strategies outlined above.
5. Keep refining
If you pay close attention to insights, you might find a lot of room for refining your targeting. For example, you might find new age brackets or interests to overlay.
What do you do if no such data is available on your network of choice? Although Snapchat is notorious for that, Instagram and Pinterest data is very limited as of right now as well. There are two ways that, while not perfect, will paint a picture for you.
The first strategy is to pay attention to engagement rates. If one Snap or Pin outperformed all other content, take some time to examine what exactly triggered that response. Also, outline any overarching trends you’ve noticed, like media formats, topics, visuals, etc. Those preferences and topics usually hint at their media consumers.
The second strategy lies in tracking your website traffic. Wait… Website traffic? I thought we were talking about social networks (I hear you say)? Still, I would argue that sending social traffic to your website is the ultimate goal in 99 percent of cases. It’s all nice and dandy to have hundreds of thousands of followers on Facebook or Instagram, but where they really contribute to your bottom line is on your site, paying for your products or services.
So, back to how website traffic might help you identify how successful you are in targeting the right people: use special links for every network you are on and examine that data in website analytics. I recommend Google Analytics since it’s free and oh-so-powerful.
Create special UTM codes for every network (so that information is not “stripped away” when visitors go from one app to another on their phone), download and add this awesome social audience insight dashboard to your GA, and voila. Now you can dice and slice audience based on the referring network and see their demographics that way.
Social media industry may be overwhelming at times with new networks popping up all the time and claiming to be the next big thing. However, invest your resources intelligently by serving the right people where they are. This will help you stay effective, sane and successful.
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This article originally appeared on Entrepreneur.com. Minor edits have been done by Entrepreneur.com.ph