Understand your target audience
To resonate on social media, you need to know who you’re talking to.
This involves identifying, researching, and listening to your target audience to craft content and messaging that’s relevant to them.
In the marketing world, customer personas are a primary method for defining target audience segments. A customer persona is essentially a fictitious character that you create to represent key traits/characteristics found within your audience.
A complete customer persona will include a detailed profile, with information such as:
- Marital status
- Personality traits
- Behavioral tendencies.
Having these detailed profiles on-hand will allow you to tailor your content accordingly, maximizing its relevance and effectiveness. But, one potential pitfall with customer personas is the temptation to create them based on intuition (rather than data). This results in a set of personas that reflect who you want your audience to be — instead of who they actually are. The solution? Audience research.
Unless your company just launched, you already have a rich source for audience data: your existing customer base. To learn more about them, implement surveys at various touchpoints (eg email, checkout pages, etc). You should also be carefully analyzing your brand’s online reviews, customer service logs, and CRM data to glean insights about their preferences and challenges.
If you already have a social media following, you can use the built-in analytics tools on each platform (Instagram Insights, Twitter Analytics, etc) to assess your audience’s demographics and interests.
Brandwatch Social Panels is another way you can learn about your target audience – it helps brands listen to the conversation from specific groups of people and learn about their interests, needs, and opinions.
You can also use public forums like Quora to see the questions people are asking about a particular topic, as this will often indicate what they’re struggling with. Remember, your goal should not be to simply know who your audience is — but to understand what delights them and, perhaps even more importantly, what their biggest pain points are.
Tip: For additional insight, check out your competitors’ online reviews to see what their customers are saying (as they’ll likely have a lot in common with your audience).
Study the competition
When formulating a social media strategy, you don’t have to completely ‘reinvent the wheel’ from scratch. Observe what other brands in your niche are doing (and what’s working for them) to get a lay of the land and guide your own strategy. You can try to beat them at their own game by doing it even better or find underutilized areas to capitalize on.
Put together a list of 5-10 of the top competitors in your space. If you need help, head over to Google and enter search terms related to your products/services. The results on the first page will likely be from the leaders in the field.
When assessing your competitors, here are some key questions to be asking:
- Which social channels are they most active/popular on?
- What types of content are they posting? (video, images, stories, paid ads, etc)
- How much engagement are they getting on various channels/content types?
- What tone and aesthetic do they use in their content?
A competitive analysis should not be done with the intent of copying what others are doing. Rather, you should be taking note of general principles, tactics, and trends you see, but with the end goal of determining how your brand can make its own unique splash in the space.
Tip: You can view the ads that your competitors are running on Facebook by visiting their page, clicking ‘See All’ in the Page Transparency section, then selecting ‘Go to Ad Library.
To learn more about diving deep into competitive intelligence, you can read our dedicated guide here.
Focus on the right channels
Now it’s time to move forward from preparatory considerations into tactical planning. Once your brand’s customer personas have been established and a competitive analysis has been performed, the results of both can help inform the decision of which platforms to concentrate on.
Factors to weigh include:
- Where your audience is spending time (think back to your customer personas and competitive analysis)
- The differences between platforms
- Your industry
- Your goals.
To elaborate, here are some key highlights of the leading networks:
The largest network with over 2B users. Organic reach has declined, but paid ads offer powerful targeting, and Groups can be used for community-building. Virtually, every audience segment is on Facebook, but younger demographics are now gravitating toward Instagram.
A highly visual platform, increasingly favored by Millennials and Gen Z. Great for growing an engaged following, showcasing products, and partnering with influencers. Primary content formats are images and short videos.
Runs primarily on short text-based updates (tweets), making it great for brand voice, activism, humor, announcements, and thought leadership. Suitable for both B2C and B2B.
For B2B brands, LinkedIn is a must. As the premier professional networking site, it’s the leading option for sharing business and career-related content. In addition to posts, you can also publish articles directly on the platform, further enhancing its potential as a content marketing channel.
Like Instagram, Pinterest is inherently visual, with images as the main content format. The core demographic is women (aged 25- 54) and the platform is particularly appealing for ecommerce brands, with 89% of users turning to Pinterest for purchase inspiration.
Snapchat and TikTok
With short, ephemeral (disappearing) video clips and a highly engaged young user base, these platforms are promising options for brands looking to connect with Gen Z in creative ways.
With your primary channels selected, the next step is to outline a plan for publishing consistent, compelling content to engage your audience within each channel.
Create a content game plan
Content is the lifeblood of social media, which is why everything we’ve covered so far has been leading up to this critical section.
At this point, you’ve now compiled a substantial set of useful information to help inform/guide your content creation:
- You’ve pinpointed your goals, which should influence the content types/formats you use (e.g. branded images for awareness, stories and polls for engagement, product images and demo videos for conversion, etc).
- You’ve defined your customer personas, which should influence your messaging (e.g. speaking in a relatable way, celebrating the things they love and calling out the pain points that bother them).
- You’ve assessed the competition to see what tactics they’re using, what’s working for them (and what isn’t), and how your brand can differentiate itself.
Now, by tying the above concepts together, you can develop a series of content “buckets” to categorize the content you want to publish. These buckets will bring organization, focus, and clarity to the otherwise hectic endeavor of trying to determine what to post on social media.
To demonstrate, here’s a hypothetical content bucket for a fitness app company: