If you haven't noticed I almost always reference the importance of understanding your target audience before any social media approach. From the captions you write and the photos you capture, to how to engage with and attract your target audience or ideal client on social media... The key to great social media marketing (and really any marketing) is to have a clear understanding of who your target audience is.
Let us first define what a target audience actually is... A target audience is a group of people that you've identified that you want to appeal to. This can be based on demographics such as age, gender, location, behavior, interests, hobbies, income level, or education. Your social media target audience consists of the people who are most likely interested in your product.
Stop Visualizing Your Target Audience as an Audience
Now that we've defined what a target audience is, I want you to next stop thinking of your target audience as an "audience" or group of people. Shift that visual in your head to ONE person and describe in great detail who that person is and what they look like. Some questions you might ask yourself to help make that vision a little clearer include:
How old are they?
What is their gender or gender identity?
Where do they live?
What do they do for work (if they work at all)?
What are their hobbies?
What are their goals?
What challenges do they face?
Where do they shop?
The list can go on and on. It's important for you to understand what key details are most important to your brand and how you communicate. Oftentimes when going through this process we'll see clients begin to describe themselves or an ideal self. And while if you're brand is centered around you and your services that may make sense, but there are cases where you need to take a step back and re-evaluate who you're really trying to attract to your product or service.
You may have found it difficult to describe just one person, and that's totally okay! We encourage you to identify multiple buyer personas. We recommend identifying at least two, but no more than 5 buyer personas.
PRO TIP: When building a social strategy, we go into our client's accounts and randomly select 10 of their active followers and analyze their social media profiles. When looking at a minimum of 10 profiles, you'll often discover trends between each account to help you identify some of those key characteristics.
Reaching Your Target Audience on Social Media
Now that you have a good idea of who your buyer is, let's talk about ways in which you can learn how to reach them on social media.
1. Identify Keywords and Phrases
Yes, similar to SEO tactics you use for your website, you'll also what to do the same on social media. Using Google's Keyword Finder (or other Keyword research tools), you can uncover some of the top keywords your target audience is using.
Remember our tip on analyzing 10 of your follower's accounts? Reviewing their bios and captions is a great way to discover keywords and phrases to use on social media.
2. Hashtags You Should Be Using
Similar to the keyword strategy, the next step is uncovering common hashtags your target audience is using and searching. You can find these hashtags by looking at the hashtags your followers are sharing along with their social media posts or what your close competitors with a similar target audience are including in their posts. Don't forget to look at the comments sections for hashtags if you're not finding them in the posts.
For all my fellow social analytics nerds, you can also use various online tools or apps to dig deeper into what's trending, hashtag pairings, optimized placement, and more. We like to use the Hashtag Expert app or Ninjalitics to see what kind of results we're getting from specific hashtags or recommended hashtag groupings for our niche.
3. Create Content with Your Audience in Mind
What you find inspiring or funny, your target audience may or may not relate to. When building out your content strategy you always want to keep your audience in mind. You'll want to ask yourself questions like, "What's going to get them engaging with this image or video I'm creating?" or "Will 'X' persona find this dog video cute?", etc.
Also, go in and see what other accounts your active followers are following and seem to be actively engaging with. Are they following a lot of cute animal accounts? Or, maybe you find they follow a lot of food bloggers who specialize in vegan recipes. These details are all key to having a deep understanding of your target audience!
Next up, do a similar analysis of your competition or accounts that have a similar target audience. Look for their top liked and commented-on posts and find the similarities among those posts from the caption to the visual. When comparing visuals, do videos, graphics, carousel images, or single images perform better? What about the content in those images... Are they mostly flatlays, lifestyle images, or isolated product photos? The list of questions can go on and on, but ultimately you'll know what to look for as it relates to your brand when you start browsing through social media feeds.
PRO TIP: Make a list of similarities among your competitor's top-performing posts and keep a tally as you browse more competitor accounts. This way it will be easier to visualize what's really working without allowing your personal preferences to get in the way. We also suggest using this same process for analyzing your competitor's lowest-performing posts.
Developing and understanding your target audience is the most important step in creating a successful social media marketing strategy. When you understand your audience, showing up on social media, and creating content becomes easy! Social media is simply a place to connect with and learn more from your customers. When you approach it like so, that's when you'll see success through social media marketing.