All businesses have two things – goods to sell and customers who buy those goods. That part is really simple. Without customers, there is no business, so finding your target audience is probably the most important part of any business strategy. I am assuming, from the fact that you are blogging or producing whatever goods you produce, that you are aware that your users, customers and prospects are out there. I don’t suspect you are blogging about or selling… lint, for instance. That said, reality TV has convinced me that there’s an audience for just about everything (said the girl who, last week, got sucked into watching a show about a handful of Louisiana locals who catch and sell alligators for a living).
As easy as 1, 2, 3
Finding that all-important target audience is as easy as 1, 2, 3. And before you launch any kind of social media melee, you would do well to find your users and customers. You can have the best custom horseshoe site in the world, but most of us probably have no desire to see it. Even so, you can feel pretty confident that your horseshoe-buying public is looking for your awesome horseshoe services right now and I’m going to let you know how two can find each other.
1 – Keywords
The first thing I would recommend you do in your search for your target audience is to identify your keywords. When prospective users / customers go to search for you online, unless you’re Gary Vaynerchuk (adorable, by the way; his energy is contagious), people probably won’t be searching for you by name, but rather by key terms associated with your particular niche. A simple way to identify key terms is to ask yourself how people would find your business or genre of content if they were to conduct a Google search. Use one broad search term and three or four targeted terms. If you are a beautician, Chicago hair salon may be your general search term, followed by hair implants in West Chicago, permanent makeup, fusion hair weave and so on. Be specific. The narrower your niche, the more specific and targeted your results.
To search topics that appear in social media, try Social Mention, which provides real-time search results pulled from more than a hundred social media channels. Videos, tagged images, blog content and social media feeds show up in the detailed search results that give you great information about when your key term was mentioned, how often and who’s doing the talking. Fantastic social media tool.
2 – Become a groupie
Groups are another good way to get access to people who are connected with each other through a shared interest. Facebook and LinkedIn very active online community groups. By monitoring group interactions, you can find out what kind of information group members are looking for online, any service issues they may be experiencing with products, related interests that members of the group may share. Based on the interactions you have with the group (because you will be interacting, right?), you can draw up a pretty accurate picture of what your user/customer looks like, lifestyle issues, age, financial information and social behaviors. Essentially, you will know your customer and be better equipped to identify sales opportunities.
3 – Information Discovery
Just a few more questions to gain a bit of insight into your target audience.
- Where are your customers spending their time?
- Who are the influencers you are able to identify in the groups? What specific topics of conversation re-surface time and again?
- What key terms are they using?
- What other interests do members of your audience seem to share?
- What kind of information are they looking for?
- What kind of media do they respond to? YouTube videos with plenty of comments? Tagged images on Facebook? Wise quotes from Yoda?
- How do members of your target audience socialize from social media channel to channel? What stylized quirks do you detect?
- How are they communicating with each other on a grand scale?
- Are they gawkers or participators?
Now that you know where they are and have answered the above questions, you have a better understanding of your target audience. This information will help you to shape your SMM goals and determine which tools are necessary to implement your social media marketing strategy.
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