How do you find your target audience online? 4 Tips.

Thursday April 4, 2013

Wide summary

[Brandwatch guest post]

It’s all very well and good knowing how to create the perfect tweet or which kind of content works best on Facebook, but all that knowledge is completely pointless if you are pushing your content out to the wrong people or, worse, no one.

The same goes for social campaigns; there’s no point in spending your precious budget on a Facebook campaign when all your audience are on Twitter, for example.

It’s important to understand where your target audience is, and go there. Don’t try and force them to the platform you want to use. It’s highly unlikely they will come to you, so go to them.

Don’t listen to Kevin; ‘Build it and they will come’ doesn’t cut it in this situation.

Plus, few of us have the time or resources to cover all the possible platforms there are out there, especially when it seems a hot new one pops up every other month. Therefore an understanding of which ones are going to give the best ROI is essential.

So how can you find where your target audience are? Well, there are several ways – we’ve highlighted 4 here.

1] Do some research

You need to first research and decide who your target audience are.  It’s highly likely you already have a good idea; after all, you will have had a target audience in mind when developing your product or service. But, assumptions are rarely good, and it may be that you find an unlikely group are also a possible audience for your business. For example, Avon experienced an unexpected source of sales when it was rumoured that their So Soft moisturiser was a good insect repellent, attracting buyers outside of the female demographic it was originally intended for. That doesn’t mean you have to start marketing to niche groups who use your product in unexpected ways, but it’s always good to be aware of who might be talking about your product and why.

Research might take the form of traditional methods, such as focus groups and surveys, but can also be supplemented with new methods such as using monitoring tools for market research.

2] Look at your competitors

First stop after research might be looking at where your competitors are online. Chances are, if they’re all on a particular platform, it’s because the audience is there. Plus, you want to be present if all your competitors are, as otherwise you may be overlooked as an option.

But do a bit of research; look at how many followers or fans they have, and how much engagement they get on their posts. This should give you a good idea of whether they’ve chosen the right place (after all, they aren’t necessarily doing the right thing either).

3] Use a monitoring tool

Chances are, many of your target audience will be found on one or more of the major social networking sites. However, there may be forums and blogs, or other sites, that you don’t even know exist where your industry is discussed at length. There are many niche or specialist platforms away from the main social networks that are hotbeds of activity. You might also find that people you didn’t necessarily expect to be your target audience are discussing your products or industry.

Using a monitoring tool, you can search for conversation across the web about your industry, by looking for phrases and terms unique to your area. For example, when searching for conversation about parenting and baby products you could search for relevant terms such as ‘bottle warmer’ and ‘Bugaboo’. You can also look at where relevant content, such as articles or videos, is being shared.

Most good monitoring tools will then allow you to find the top sites and authors for conversation. You can then look into these and see if a presence on the site would be beneficial. But approach carefully; some online communities can be wary of brands ‘interfering’ in their conversations, so make sure you understand the dynamics and etiquette of the community before you get involved.

4] Look for relevant hashtags or groups/pages

On each platform, take a look at relevant hashtags/groups/pages to see if they exist and how active they are. For example, is there a thriving group on LinkedIn related to your industry? Is there a well-used hashtag on Twitter that unites many people interested in your type of business? Facebook fan pages with huge levels of engagement?

This will be a good indication of whether there are people on those platforms interested in your industry.

So what to done once you’ve found your audience?

Well, that’s a whole other post in itself, but some tips:

  • Understand your audience – listen to them to see what they enjoy, interact with, share and create content that will appeal to them. This might vary from platform to platform.
  • Don’t be pushy, and give them something of value. Unless you’re Apple, they probably don’t just want to know about your great new product endlessly (no matter how great it is!).
  • Don’t expect to gain a huge following overnight. Building a community and fanbase takes time, so be patient. If you’re listening to them and giving them what they want, it’ll get there.

By Jasmine Jaume, community manager, Brandwatch @yomegosocial

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