Social Media Census: How to Better Understand Your Target Audience on Social Media
The internet is a vast ocean of content. I shouldn’t have to say that since it’s already obvious to pretty much everyone at this point. It’s so big that even if you stick to a single website, such as YouTube, you couldn’t possibly consume every single piece of content in there, partly because there’s so much already and partly because new contents are added at a much faster rate than what we’re able to consume. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing as this embarrassment of riches mean that it’s practically a guarantee that there’s something for everyone, you just have to figure out the what and who first.
This fact is important because in the world of content marketing, it is first important to know who you are marketing to in order to come up with the right content. Some contents work better with a particular slice of the population while others work better with a different slice of the population. This isn’t an exact science as some people simply fall outside their established demographic but by knowing exactly the interest of your target audience, you could optimize your content and social media posts to better attract your target audience.
Painting people in broad strokes
People really aren’t as unique as they think they are. It’s easy to surmise from the time I spent in a website I frequent that most of the regular commenter on that website has the same political views as me. We like the similar films, similar videogames and we obtain our news from similar sources. What I found to be surprising however is the fact that we belong to wildly different age groups. One regular was born in 1994, 3 years younger than me while another already has a couple of granddaughters.
While the background of your audience is indeed important, it’s their interest that is of the utmost importance since they don’t always track. In fact, to assume that just because someone comes from a certain background they would automatically be interested in one type of content is a fool’s errand. Equally important is to first work by finding the type of people that your product appeals to and not by finding a group of people and trying to appeal to them. Remember, never teach a pig to sing; it wastes your time and it annoys the pig.
Identify your target audience
What I would like to stress here is the use of the word identify, not define. Your target audience, the kind of people that your product would appeal to, ideologically and financially, already exists out there and all you have to do is find them. When it comes to social media, the first step would be to identify which platform they actively use. I’m at that weird age where the people I know is not old enough to be using Facebook but still too old to be using Snapchat or TikTok. For the most part, we’re on Instagram.
That being said, I also belong to a group of people that is woefully unfamiliar with YouTube. You throw me names of the most popular YouTube celebrities and you’d probably find me with the face of that meme of a confused Nick Young. I didn’t even know Logan Paul existed before the whole Aokigahara scandal blew up and I certainly have no idea who James Charles was before his name appeared in a New York Times article examining his downfall. People’s social media habits can be wildly different so it helps to first figure out where your target audience likes to hang out in first, in a manner of speaking.
The next step would be to narrow down the criteria of your target audience. You already know their platform of choice but that’s still too general. Find out what income level they should belong to given how you price your products and/or services and then find out what publication they read and their interest in order to craft a persona. If you’re starting from scratch, you could check out the customer of your closest competitors while if you already have a customer base, you could gather this data on your own by asking them to fill a survey.
Find out the way they prefer brands to interact with them
For this part, let me share an anecdote. There’s this local shoe maker that a colleague introduced me to. Their shoes are great, offering just the right balance between the quality of material & construction and price that I don’t see very often. I’m going to use these shoes strictly in an urban setting so I don’t need them to be rugged but since I also like to do some walking, I need them to at least have a level of ruggedness than the typical shoes. So I bought two pairs of shoes from them and the shoes have been doing well so far. The actual shoe maker however isn’t doing as great.
The problem with this shoe maker lies in how they communicate. I follow their Instagram page because that’s where I could easily keep track of their ongoing promotions and it wasn’t long before I find out that they use slang words very liberally. The words fam, lit, extra, stan and flex and all of their various forms are employed on an almost daily basis and it’s just simply too much. I still check their website every now and then but I no longer follow their Instagram page as I refuse to engage in that manner.
Connect with them
Now that you’ve crafted a persona and have figured out the kind of language they speak, the next thing is to actually create contents that would resonate with them. The best way to do this would be to actually employ someone belonging to that specific audience you’re trying to court so as not to sound fake but if that’s not possible, you can still do this on your own, just try to make sure that you’re being as authentic as possible. Try to find some common ground with your intended audience and work your way up from there.