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How to Find Your Target Audience on Social Media

13 min read

Identifying your target audience on social media will give you the ability to hone your marketing strategy around your potential customer’s needs, consumer desires, and behavior patterns. Take your marketing strategies to the next level by hyper-personalizing them to suit specific demographics.

In doing so, you engage on a more personal level with the potential customers, who are most likely to take action. You know, as in convert. Aka, make a purchase. In the long run, this will increase your overall sales and increase the effectiveness of your marketing strategy — saving you time and money.

However, finding and targeting the right audience on social media can be a tricky task for an online seller. In this guide, I’ll teach you how to find your ideal audience. Your one step away from producing high-quality, tailored marketing like a pro.

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What Is a Target Audience?

Your ideal audience is a collection of people who share similar characteristics, needs, and behaviors that make your product attractive to them. This includes current customers, past customers, and potential future customers (i.e., “leads”).

Talking about social media, your ideal audience is often referred to as your “target audience”, as your target audience is the primary recipient of your marketing.

There are four groups of audiences on social media:

  • Active audiences: people who engage with your brand on social media regularly.
  • Aware audiences: people who see your social media marketing but only engage occasionally.
  • Latent audiences: people who see your social media marketing but do not engage with it.
  • Non-audiences: who fit into your target audience but have not encountered your product or social media marketing at all.

Creating a content distribution strategy that is effective for each of these groups can be tricky — which is why it’s so important to identify your target audience and target your marketing to them directly.

Strategies to Find Your Target Audience

As an online seller, you’re likely already targeting a particular niche. But how do you turn that general niche into a particular target audience and market to them effectively?

The most effective marketing is evidence-based, so here’s a list of five actionable game-changing activities to help you find your ideal audience.

Create buyer personas

Buyer personas are fictional representations of your target audience. These personas are a thought exercise designed to help you focus your marketing, sales outreach, and product development on the specific needs of potential customers. Confused? No worries. Here’s a specific example of a buyer persona:

Image via WordTracker

A good buyer persona describes a member of your audience along some important lines:

  • Who they are and their demographic background.
  • Why they might be interested in your product (i.e., their pain points).
  • Why they want your product.
  • What challenges might prevent them from purchasing your product.
  • How they respond to your social media marketing and which calls to action might most effectively convert them into a customer.

The best buyer personas are created from data you’ve already obtained about your target audience. This data will show you attributes that target audience members might have in common, like their age range, geographic location, educational background, profession, interests, and general life stage. These insights can be gleaned from market research, customer surveys, and data from existing customers.

Learn more: How to Create Customer Profiles for an E-commerce Store

Once you’ve created a set of buyer personas for your brand, there are many ways you can use them to guide your social media marketing.

Inspiration for posts. When designing each post, use your brand persona to consider who you’re making the post for, and which targeted call to action you should use.

Segmenting your marketing email list. Create multiple buyer personas to describe and single out different segments of your customer base, especially by their pain points. Separate each of these segments into a persona, and target each with marketing that emphasizes how your product addresses their specific needs and interests.

Partnering with brand ambassadors. Brand ambassadors can help you develop a trust with your target audience using their social credit. As customers respond better to influencers they feel they have things in common with, partner with an influencer who correlates well to at least one of your buyer personas.

Use insight tools on social media platforms

Insight tools can help you understand the behavior of your target audience on social media. Some popular tools include Sprout Social, HubSpot and BuzzSumo.

Insight tools are built into social media automation tools, which automate your social media while analyzing your marketing efforts.

Insight tools give you quantitative (data-based) information about the people who engage with you on social media. This includes:

  • The age range of your audience.
  • The nationalities/localities of your audience.
  • The gender of your audience.
  • The interests of your audience.
  • The key times your audience engages with you.

Insight tools can also help you understand how social media marketing contributes to your sales funnel, i.e., how your campaigns further your customer along in their journey from just prospective buyer to a sale. By understanding the steps they take along the way to an eventual sale, you can tweak your marketing so that it’s more in line with your customer’s behavior. This will improve your lead conversion rate.

Image via GetResponse

Certain social media platforms also offer in-built analytics tools. Take Instagram. It offers up “Instagram Insights” to provide intel to Instagram Business Account users on follower demographics and other performance statistics.

Pro Tip: While it’s understandable to want instant data about consumer behavior, the most effective marketing insights are plucked from data that is measured over a long period. This better accounts for seasonal fluctuations in consumer behavior.

Send surveys and conduct email campaigns

While social media insight tools will allow you to collect quantitative data on your customers, customer surveys will allow you to collect qualitative data.

Qualitative data is data about the thoughts, feelings, and experiences of your audience. Unlike other data, this data is non-statistical and focuses on your customers as individuals.

Image via Intellspot

The easiest way to collect qualitative data is to send out customer surveys asking for feedback. Great customer feedback surveys are usually structured around two basic sections.

In the first part, you want to ask for demographic information that can be used to segment your audience. This includes their age, nationality, education level, income level, and profession. It’s also essential to ask whether the person taking the survey is a repeat customer, new customer, ex-customer, or potential lead.

In the second section of the customer feedback survey, you should ask open-ended questions about your brand, product, and customer needs. Here are some ideas:

  • How can we make our product/service better?
  • What drew you to our product/service?
  • What are your main concerns about our product/service?
  • How does our product/service compare to competitor’s products/ services?
  • How did you first discover our brand and our products/services?
  • Do you follow us on social media. If not, why not?

Analyzing this type of open-ended data can be tricky, but you can sort responses by keywords (i.e. price), attitudes (i.e. positive or negative), and customer segment.

Long term, this activity will help you to better understand your target audience by their demographics, allowing you to target your ideal customers and their needs.

Use social listening tools

Social listening tools allow marketers to monitor conversations about their brand, industry, and products. These tools work by monitoring hashtags, news coverage, and relevant keywords, then compiling links to all this coverage into a dashboard that can be viewed at any time. Think of it like a productivity app for media monitoring.

Image via Digimind Blog

Social listening tools allow you to track which audiences engage the most on social media, but they also offer other advantages. Social media listening also enables you to:

  • Discover new sales leads and untapped markets.
  • Identify good brand ambassadors and influencers for potential partnerships.
  • Monitor public opinion on competitors.
  • Track patterns of customer’s product experience.

This gives you a holistic view of your customers, which can improve targeted marketing, help improve your customer service, and build more mutually-beneficial customer-brand relationships.

While using social listening tools is vital, they do have limitations, as they can only analyze publicly available information. Because of this, it’s vital to pair social listening with either data-driven forms of research on your audience.

Check out your competition

While your competitor/s will likely be using slightly different marketing strategies to you, they probably share an ideal customer base with you. This means you can better understand your ideal audience by analyzing their marketing.

As your competitor/s are not likely to disclose their marketing data, you can ascertain their ideal audience by:

  • Watching how frequently they post on social media.
  • Analyzing the demographic information of people who engage with their posts.
  • Signing up for their mailing list.
  • Mapping their customer lifecycle.
  • Monitoring when they post, as this will tell you the timezone of their audience.
  • Identifying what language or the version of English they use (i.e. UK English vs. American English).

After you have a basic understanding of your competitor/s ideal audience, you can use this to map out their marketing strategy.

Although it’s never a good idea to copy your competitors, analyzing where their marketing is effective and ineffective will help you reach your shared audience better.

When analyzing a competitor’s overall strategy, you should look at their:

  • Unique value proposition.
  • Current customer base.
  • Social media engagement.
  • Financial results (if your competitor is publicly traded or discloses this information).
  • How they structure their website landing page to convert leads.

USP, or unique selling proposition, is the unique benefit exhibited by a company (Image via TractionWise)

In Conclusion

Finding and better understanding your target audience is essential for success in online selling. With in-depth knowledge of your social media audience in hand, you’ll be able to design a content distribution strategy that focuses on your customers and their needs — increasing your lead conversion rate and giving you more of that sweet marketing mileage.


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About the author

Zoe Devitto is a content marketing strategist for SaaS brands like FollowUpBoss, Mention.com and more. On the personal front, Zoe is a pho enthusiast and loves traveling around the world as a digital nomad. Connect with Zoe on twitter.

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