How To Target The Right Audience For Your Brand

We’ve helped countless individuals build sustainable businesses. Today, we’re going to share with you the single biggest misstep from businesses, and that’s about their audience. We’ll learn how to define an audience and target them so you can grow your business.

Developing a clear understanding of your social media target audience may be the most important thing you do. As you build your business, your target audience informs all elements of your social media strategy.

Here’s a hint before we dig in: your target audience is not everyone. Your task in defining your social media audience is to identify and understand your niche so you can dominate it. Audience research will help you craft relevant content, messaging and ads. All of this can lead to higher conversion rates, which means more clients buying your stuff and a better return on your investment for your ad spend. Of course, these are key metrics for all social marketers, but also business owners.

A social media target audience is a specific group of people you want to reach with your social channels. They are the people who are most likely to be interested in your content, products or services. They are likely united by some common characteristics, like demographics and behaviors. As you develop your target audience definition, don’t be afraid to get highly specific. You can start with broad categories like millennials or single dads or single moms. But good social media audience research will allow you to get into much finer detail.

Remember, you can sell to everyone but you can’t target everyone with all your social content. It’s impossible. You can’t speak directly to the best potential customers if you’re trying to speak to their kids and parents and spouses and colleagues, all at the same time. too confusing.

Target Audience Case Study

Here’s an example of Zipcar, the car sharing service in major cities. Their brand positioning statement as cited in the classic marketing text, “Kellogg on Marketing”, provides exceptional insight into their audience targeting. The first part of the statement defines the target audience.

“To urban-dwelling, educated, techno-savvy consumers who worry about the environment that future generations will inherit, Zipcar is the car-sharing service that lets you save money and reduce your carbon footprint, making you feel you’ve made a smart, responsible choice that demonstrates your commitment to protecting the environment.”

They’re specifically targeting people who live in an urban area, have a certain degree of education, are comfortable with technology, and are concerned about the environment. These are all interests and behaviors. Then Zipcar can specifically target the right people using social ads. They also help to guide the company’s overall approach to social media marketing strategy.


How to find your social media target audience.

Social media audience research isn’t complicated. It’s mainly about narrowing your focus while expanding your reach.

1. Compile data on your existing customers and social media audience

Who wants to engage with you on social media? Start with the people already buying from you, following you, and interacting with your posts. Some data points you might want to consider are:


You don’t need to get too specific here.

Focus on learning which decade of life your social media target audience is in, or their generation.


Where in the world does your social media audience live? This helps you understand which geographic areas to target. You’ll also learn what hours are most important for your customer service and sales reps to be online.


What language does your target audience speak?

Don’t assume it’s your language. And don’t assume they speak the dominant language of the current physical location.

Jargon and slang are important for you to know and use effectively as well. But be mindful that it can be really confusing to people who don’t understand it.

Spending power and patterns.

How much does your target audience for your social media sites have to spend? How did they approach purchases in your price category? Do they have specific financial concerns or preferences you need to address?


What does your target audience like to do? What TV show do they watch? What other businesses do they interact with?


What pain points are your social media audience members dealing with?

Stage of life.

Does your social media target audience include college students, new parents, teens, retirees, etc.?

(for B2B companies) Size of business.

What kind of businesses buy from and engage with you? Are they startups or enterprise-level brands?

(for B2B companies) Who tends to make the buying decisions?

Are you targeting the CEO, the CTO, the social marketing manager?


Facebook Insight is a great tool and can be particularly helpful in finding a lot of this information. Your own customer database can also provide you a wealth of information, you can assume that your overall customer demographic will match your target audience for social media sites. But understanding who’s already buying from you can really help you understand who’s most likely to be interested in your social channels.


2. Use social listening to find conversations about your brand

Social listening is a key way to uncover conversations about your business, your industry and your products. Monitoring relevant keywords and hashtags reveals what people are saying about you and your competitors online.

Reaching out in response to these social posts is a great way to find your target audience on social media, even if they’re not following you yet. You can also use social listening for deeper social media audience research. As you monitor keywords and hashtags, you may uncover other relevant hashtags your audience uses.

You can then test adding these hashtags to your social posts to extend your reach to more relevant users.

3. Check out the competition

Odds are your social media audience overlaps with that of your competitors. So it’s worth checking out what you’re doing so you can benefit from the lessons they’ve already learned.

Are they reaching segments that you hadn’t thought to consider? How are they positioning themselves? Look at your competitors to learn valuable lessons about what to do and what not to do.

4. Understand what your target audience wants from your social channels

First, you need to make sure you have a rock solid understanding of how your product or service makes your audience’s life:

  • Better,
  • Easier,
  • or just More interesting.

Does it solve their challenges? Address specific pain points? Help them meet their goals? If you don’t already have a clear list of the benefits of your product, it’s time to start brainstorming. Now.

Creating benefit statements automatically involves stating some basic information about your target demographic.

For example, in an IKEA post, features of the advertised furniture might be that it is small, inexpensive, and functional. But the benefit is that it can help you make a comfortable workspace, even in a small home.

Next, start to think about how you can create value for your audience through your social channels. Some key questions to consider:

  • What are your audience’s main purchasing barriers? And how can you help them overcome them?
  • Where are your followers at in their buying journey? Are they researching or ready to buy now? Are they looking for reviews?
  • What kind of content does your audience tend to engage with?

If you’re having trouble figuring out exactly what your social audience wants to see on your social channels, you should always ask them.

Pro Tip: Survey Monkey has a free template for a social media audience research survey. Use this template to find out which social networks your audience prefers and their content preferences. You can even link your survey directly from a social post.

How to reach your target audience on social media.

Once you’ve found and defined your social target audience use these tips to connect with more of them.

1. Lookalike audiences and ad targeting

Lookalike audience targeting is one of the most straightforward ways to reach more of your target audience on social media. Lookalike audiences share characteristics and behaviors with people who already interact with your brand.

Don’t have a customer subscriber list yet? You can still use precise targeting options to target social ads. You’ll then reach exactly the audience you defined during your research. If you’re targeting more than one audience, you can customize your ads so that each audience sees the content most relevant to them.

For example, the NHL uses geographically targeted ads for Team memorabilia, regardless of whether you’re in Toronto or Vancouver.

Make sure you structure the content of the ads to appeal to exactly the audience you’re targeting, as well. Ask yourself, does this language speak exactly to the market you’ve defined, in an appropriate voice? Do the visuals make sense in the context of your target market?


2. A/B test your paid and organic content to maximize reach

As you focus on reaching your target audience for social media sites, you may need to adjust your organic and paid social content strategy.

Use the information gained during your social media target audience research to begin tweaking your content, captions, images, post types, ads, scheduling, etc. Using A/B testing, you can refine your content over time as you learn exactly what works best.

3. Revisit your audience research as needed

The results of your A/B testing may provide additional insight you didn’t have when you first created your target market segment. Be sure to incorporate any lessons you learn. Revisit your target audience definition regularly, and make sure it still accurately describes the people you most want to reach on social media.

Your target market could change over time. For example, in the 1980s, Atari marketed its gaming console to kids. Today, Atari targets the same people who played its games back in the 80s. But those people are now adults who viewed the Atari brand, not as a cutting edge gaming system, but instead as a nostalgic part of their childhood.


Making sure you have a clearly defined target audience is how you avoid making missteps with your branding efforts.

With a solid understanding of who you’re trying to reach, you can start taking the steps to turn your audience base into a customer base, instead!

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