Take thirteen minutes to read this article and I will give you the first key to social media optimization success- social audience targeting. Reading this will save you a century or wasted time and energy. After reading this article you will have the critical understanding of social audiences in the context of effective social media optimization. Moreover, this article reveals a highly effective audience targeting strategy that everyone tends to forget.
First… Why is defining your Social Audience important to Social Media Optimization (SMO)?
In a previous article, “Why Defining Your Social Audience is Critical to SMO Success” I explain why defining your audience is critical to SMO success. Effectively targeting your social media audience is the first step toward developing an effective SMO Plan.
Choosing your social audience is to SMO as choosing your keywords is to SEO.
In Altimer’s and Owyang’s Social Strategy Trilogy, his “step one” is understanding your customers. However, you best social audience is not always your customers, your prospects, or people anyone even close to who you would normally think of. Keep reading.
What Are the Agencies & Consultants Doing?
Agencies and marketing consultants will spend your money on monitoring tools and reports and then they’ll put your audience into categories, maybe they’ll talk about The Social Technographics Ladder or your audience in terms of ethnographic terms. This is why you pay them the big bucks- pretty charts, “ladders” and their expensive monitoring tools and reports. All those diagrams and tools are valuable but they are not always necessary for everyone. In either case, make sure you’re getting the fancy tools and reports if you’re paying the big bucks. On the other end, make sure they’re not billing you for wasted time on stupid academic diagrams to explain the stuff to you- it doesn’t give YOU much value. While there are many robust tools and valuable audience reports out there- this is not always necessary. It is especially not necessary if you already know your customer very well. In a later post, I’ll show you some free tools to help you id your social audience (and the groups worth your efforts and time).
Nevertheless, don’t let these fancy agency explanations confuse you. You know your organization best and agencies shouldn’t be adding value with charts and data.
The Test of A Great SMO Agency is Creativity of Strategy & Proof That it’s Working!
Sometimes the simplest answer is the best, sometimes it isn’t, and sometimes the answer is the one you fear the most….
How Are Most Defining Their Target Social Audience?
Most will define their social audience as your existing and prospective customers, biz dev partners, or existing/prospective employees. This depends on the amount of risk (reward) you’re willing to take. Recall the Rings of Influence- the further out you go the more risk you take for hopefully more influence (reward). Using the SEO keyword analogy, think of niche keywords creating explosive traffic from search. Similarly, targeting audiences you wouldn’t normally think of to spread your digital message can unlock golden market opportunities you or your agency may have overlooked.
When it comes to defining your social media audience- few think outside the box.
The Opportunity Everyone Misses:
I’m going to let you in on a secret- your Best Social Media Audience will not always like you.
In fact, they might think you suck or they may not even know what social media is. . .
In many cases your social audience depends on your goals and when it comes to agencies or consultants it depends on the client’s comfort level. For instance, if your goal for using SMO is to grow great organic word-of-mouth for your new product, then your audience might be different than if your goal is just to increase brand awareness. As an example, take Ford Fiesta’s WOM campaign for the new car. They gave 100 cars out to movers and shakers that didn’t even like American Cars and asked them to use social media and review the car throughout a period of time. This risky yet smart move generated a very strong and valuable WOM campaign for Ford. Choosing a social audience that didn’t even like Ford made a much bigger impact than if Ford had chosen people that were already customers or indifferent to the brand. When they chose to give away 100 cars and write off the cost as a marketing expense they made a “Bold Move” to choose the unexpected social audience. If they had chosen only fans of Ford, the campaign wouldn’t be very compelling. Moreover, it served them much better to write off the cost of 100 Ford Fiesta’s a as opposed to other marketing tactics, like ads that only a small percentage of customers listen to these days. In this case, the social audience wasn’t even their customers, it was their very loud antagonists and skeptics.
As a personal example, I’ve had success targeting grandmothers with my SMO message. What I’ve found is that grandma’s think it’s cool that they can talk to their kids about something new. They pass the message onto their children (30-40 somethings) to show that they’re hip and with it and in turn, I get these 40 something business owners emailing me to work together.
On the other hand, if you want to take a more conservative approach and try to use SMO to grow brand awareness, perhaps you just want to reach out to your existing “talker” customers to be you social audience.
It all depends on the end goal and how much risk you want to take.
As the rebel I am, I have a lot to say on the opportunities available by targeting unlikely social audiences. However, this content is free and you get what you pay for. Perhaps I’ll divulge to subscribers one day I’m feeling overly generous.
What is the Key to Targeting Your Social Media Audience then?
The key is to find out two things:
1. Who your talkers are (good and bad) and who they could be.
2. Find out which talkers are the most compelling to listen to?
Remember in the new rules of word of mouth marketing in the digital age, I explained that you now not only have to be interesting your message has to be shareable and compelling or sharepelling as I called it.
Start think: who hates you? who loves you? who is jealous? who is unsure? who is out there with influence that’s talking? Essentially, who can make an impact for you? Think of your social audience as your most valuable new media or business partner. Imagine this person in terms of personas. Perhaps the persona of this audience is the grandma who has no idea what social media is, perhaps it is an 18 year old cyber ninja that dreams in code. Again, your audience is to SMO strategy as Keywords are to SEO strategy. Missing the mark here with your SMO strategy would be like speaking Spanish to a Chinese person- they can’t hear or understand you and you just look stupid. Choosing the right audience first will save you a ton of time and energy.
This sounds easy enough, right?
False, do your work now- save time later.
Choosing the right social media audience sounds easy, sure. What no one tells you is that it takes more work than it sounds. The benefit comes later because the more quality work you do here, the less time you waste later. Trust me on that one.
Key Lessons I’ve Learned About Targeting Your Social Audience for SMO:
- Quality is Key: If you aim for quality, quantity will follow. Focus on targeting the best social audience for your goals. I can use the SEO keyword analogy again because the better the quality of keyword research, the more time you save getting yourself where you want to be in searches. Having to go back and revise your keywords is the biggest pain and you want to get it right the first time.
- Consider Your Comfort Level: While WOM (word of mouth) grows quickest in numbers, it also dies quick in numbers and can come back to haunt you in numbers. Thus, the key is finding the “right” target social audience for your goals. As shown in the example above with Ford, these “right” people may not always be your biggest fans.
- Think Outside Your Idea of Influence. (I hate the term, “think outside the box” but sometimes I get too tired of thinking outside the box with everything else that I forget to think outside the box for another phrase here). In the most powerful and compelling cases, they are what I would call your open antagonists. Open antagonists are essentially the people that don’t like you, your brand, your product or something simply because they don’t really understand it or they were turned off by a bad experience. On the other hand these open antagonists are logical and reasonable and thus, they will be open to your message if it’s valid. In Ford’s case, they were open because they were given a freaking car. If anyone gives me a car as a gift, I would be open too. I’m just saying.
How do we find our Social Media Audience and how do we define them then?
Answers are out there. You can pay for them or you can try and find them for free. In an upcoming post, I’ll tell you about the free resources to do your audience research and later, I’ll tell you how to define them so you can move forward with your social media optimization strategy.
How do you research and define your social audience?