Monday, 19 August 2013
To create a successful social media strategy for your business you must know your audience. Social media is all about communication and conversation, how can you have a proper conversation if you don’t know anything about the people you are talking to? Before you create or post any content, you need to know who will see it. If you only know a little about your audience to start off with, using that to your advantage when creating a strategy can help you not only engage with your audience, but also understand more about your audience as a result. Here are the questions you should ask yourself in order to help you get to know your business’ audience on social media:
Posting content without prior knowledge of its potential audience is just a Random Act of Marketing: you might have some success, but your content won’t have anywhere near the same amount of engagement as content posted with a targeted audience in mind.
For your social media strategy to have any success, you must first work out who you are trying to reach and then the best way to reach them. Be aware that different networks will have different audiences, so make sure you create content which suits each social media site.
So, knowing your audience on social media is of the upmost importance. After the ‘why’, though, comes the ‘who’: who are all the people following you on Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook and Google+? Who are all the people sharing and engaging with your content? Who is retweeting you on Twitter and repinning your pins on their Pinterest boards?
You need to work out who engages with your content in order to work out what sort of content they are more likely to engage with. Find out what demographics your fans belong to: their age, gender, professional status, location and income. For example, if your fans are predominantly of a younger demographic, they might be more likely to share funny or fashionable content.
If you’re not sure who your fans are on social media (bear in mind we haven’t got to the ‘how’ yet) it’s a good idea to find out what demographics your brand appeals to outside of the world of social media. Your customers in the real world will give you a great insight into your fans on social media. However, there are other variables that need to be taken into account, so don’t just presume that your fanbase is made up purely of actual customers: you may discover a completely new support base online thanks to your adoption of social media.
Always be aware that the number of people engaging with your content is miniscule compared to the number of people who aren’t, but could be. There are those that see your content but don’t engage, as well as the millions who haven’t even see your content yet. Make sure you don’t just create content to please the people engaging with it already, create content that will attract new fans and followers: after all, you want to be building your support base, not just maintaining what you’ve got.
Having worked out who your fans and followers are, and what makes them tick, you should work out who the most influential people within your fanbase are. Find out which of your fans have the most followers themselves, and which fans get their own content shared the most often. If you can identify the influencers within your fanbase, you can engage with them more frequently and perhaps create a few brand ambassadors.
There are actually a number of ‘what’ questions you need to ask yourself when researching your social media audience. The first, and arguably the most important, is ‘what are people saying about your company?’ Not only will this give you an insight into what your audience want from your company and from your social media presence, it will also help you better engage with customers and monitor what they think about you. You should always be monitoring sentiment analysis to get a better understanding of your customers and how your brand is perceived.
You should also find out what your fans and followers are saying on social media in general. Very often a throwaway tweet or Facebook status can give you a great insight into what a customer’s wants are. By monitoring what people say and post, you can also find out what your audience’s interests are. Create content that will pique the interests of your audience and make them more likely to engage with you.
What networks are your fans on? If your audience is far more active on Twitter than on Pinterest, and you don’t have enough time to manage both, focus on posting content and engaging with followers on Twitter to make the most of your social media presence. In answering this question you may also discover more about your audience, as different demographics prefer different sites. Of course, this means that if you have a similar number of fans on Pinterest and Twitter, they won’t necessarily be the same, so you should tailor your content to the site it is posted on and the people who will see it.
The final ‘what’ question you should ask of your audience, a question that is getting more and more important as mobile social media use increases, is ‘what devices are my fans and followers using to check their social media?’ It is no good posting image-laden content if all of you followers are on mobile, as they won’t get the full impact of a large image on a phone.
There is only one question in this section, but discovering its answer is vital to the success of your business’ social media strategy: when are your audience active online?
Don’t post your content in the evenings if your audience is using social media in the morning, as they won’t necessarily see it; post when the majority of your audience is active on social media so that they are more likely to see it and interact with it. Ideally, of course, you will be able to post content regularly throughout the day but, if not, work out the best strategy in order to get the most views, engagement and reach.
So, the burning question: how do you find out all you need to know about your business’ audience on social media? Well, you can always ask. Ask questions on Twitter and Facebook about what your customers like and dislike, what makes them tick, or create surveys to discover more about your fans and followers.
Take the time to research your audience. How do your followers describe themselves in their Twitter bios? What have they liked on Facebook? Don’t forget to measure the success of your own campaigns within your audience.
Another important question to ask your followers is how they found out about you. This can give you a great insight, not only into the minds of your audience, but also into how successful your social media presence is. Again, you can use a survey to do this.
There are a number of analytical tools which you can use to make researching your audience easier: Klout can help you work out which of your fans and followers are the most influential, while Followerwonk can help you delve into the details of your Twitter followers.
How do you research your social media audience?