After 2 years of running a Digital Marketing Agency and working with over 100 clients, I’m constantly reminded of one important lesson: Social Media isn’t for me.

And it’s not for you either.


Social Media is for your Audience

Clients who have seen the best results from our marketing initiatives are actually the ones who are able to understand that the work we do is not designed for them, but for their audience.

Before beginning to design a marketing plan, the first and most crucial step is to define the value that you intend to convey, and to whom.

A business with the best products, services, operations, financial planning, and talent management will fail 10 times out of 10 if that business is unable to convince its target audience that their products and services will add value.

As an old business coach of mine would iterate, “Your value in the market is only defined by what someone else is willing to pay.”


Creating Audience-Centric Social Media Strategies

Our Social Media Strategies can range up to 30 pages – 17 of which is simply defining our clients’ audience and the values that we add.

Without knowing who we’re targeting in our posts and what message we’re hoping to relay, we simply become a design agency and completely lose the marketing element.


Defining Personas

The first step in building an audience-central Social Media Strategy is actually defining your audience.

Who would benefit from your product or service?

There are most likely a variety of demographic groups that would see value in what you offer and each of these groups would find value for different reasons.

By breaking down as many audience groups as possible, we’re able to segment our Creative Visuals, Messaging, Social Channels, and Targeting.

Helpful Hints:
1. Try to come up with at least 5 different classifications or audience segments that would benefit from your service.
2. Avoid defining your audience with phrases such as “Anyone who…”
3. Think of your personas as an authentic person with a name. For example, High Networth Henry


Breaking Down Motivations

There are only 2 reasons why anybody is motivated to take any action: to seek pleasure and to avoid pain. Pain avoidance is the stronger of the 2 motivators, which is why most advertisements are geared towards saving money and time.

With a clearly defined audience list, it is important to break down what pain-points your services are able to help mitigate and what desires are they’re able to help fulfill.

Pain Points are simply created by understanding what your audience hopes to achieve, and illustrating what obstacles are standing in their way.

Helpful Hints:
1. Be careful not to confuse a “motivation” with an interest in your product. For example, a health-conscious mother is not motivated to buy health food, they are motivated to keep their family healthy and purchasing health food helps them achieve that goal.
2. Define motivations first, then leverage those motivations to help understand your audience’s pain points.


Understanding Behavior Patterns

The Behavior Pattern section of a audience-centric Social Media Strategy is the first step in the process that begins to help shape the types of content that should be used.

Once we have a clear idea of who we are targeting and what areas of their lives we are able to add value to, we can begin to focus on the best way to reach them and communicate our offerings.

In the Behavior Patterns section, we begin to understand our audience’s decision-making process and how they respond to marketing. Some important questions to ask are:

  • Do they frequently use social media?
  • Which social media channels do they use?
  • What times of day are they most active?
  • What sorts of content do they prefer?
  • Is word-of-mouth and popular opinion an important factor?
  • Are they prone to impulse decisions?
  • Are they likely to share interesting content or promotions?
  • Would they require additional research and information in making decisions?
  • Do they prefer making purchases online, face-to-face, over the phone, or via chat?


Leveraging Social Channels

By defining our audience’s Behavior Patterns in the previous section, it should be pretty clear at this stage regarding which channels our audience is most likely to engage with and what sorts of content resonates with them.

However, the most frequently asked question that I hear on a daily basis is around the usage of different Social Media channels.

“What’s more effective, Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn?”
“Does anyone still use Twitter anymore?”
“Is Snapchat the way to go?”
“What’s a TikTok?”

Fortunately, all of these channels are actually free to use. I encourage my clients to rephrase the question from which social media channel to use and instead focus on how to use each social media channel effectively.

Helpful Hints:
1. Research industry benchmarks and study how your industry leaders are leveraging their social channels. Who is successful and who are struggling.
2. Explore each social media channel and become very familiar with all of their features. Decide which features will be useful in leveraging your offerings and content.


In a Nutshell

As with your entire business model, your Social Media should focus on the audience first. They are your lifeline, your brand evangelists, and the purpose for your organization existing.

Revenue, after all, is not defined by your ability to run a smooth operation, but is rather defined by multiplying the number of sales by the price per sale. This is why it is crucial to become one with your audience and hone into what makes them tick and ultimately, what makes them purchase.


Bonus: Audience Targeting through Social Media Advertising

Advertising through the Facebook Ads Manager platform will engage many of the targeting strategies that we’ve covered earlier to proactively advertise across Facebook and Instagram’s network. With the Ads Manager tool, however, we are also able to specifically insert what interests and behaviors we would like Facebook to use when selecting who to show our ads to.

This subject alone demands hundreds of pages of material to understand fully, but here are a few helpful hints to ensure your Social Media campaigns are audience-centric:

1. Set Campaigns based on a specific objective.

Similarly to getting fit, success is defined differently from person to person and each initiative should have its own objective.

When setting the objective as “Engagement” on your social pages (likes, comments, follows, etc…), it is important to understand that the algorithm will target users likely to engage in your page as opposed to users who are likely to make a purchase on your website.

Do not be discouraged or surprised if one metric (sales, for example) decreases when the objective was set to focus on a different metric.

2. Build unique Ad Sets (audience groups) for each persona.

Segmenting audience groups will allow for more clear data regarding which demographics are genuinely interested in your offerings. Once a particular audience emerges as a higher performing market, we can choose to funnel a larger portion of our budget into that audience, or begin experimenting with new markets.

Jumbling all of your audiences into 1 ad set will confuse Facebook’s algorithm and reduce your ability to decipher who is interested and why.

3. Use specific Behavior and Interest targeting

A common mistake when defining audience targeting is to insert as many Interests and Behaviors as possible to ensure you’re casting a wide net.

This is dangerous because targeting everyone is essentially not targeting anyone.

Limit audience identifiers to 5 Interests and Behaviors that are focused and specific to that audience exclusively. If there are additional interests that you believe are relevant to your audience, create a different Ad Set to segment those into a new, noncompeting audience.

4. Leverage Lookalike Audiences

Lookalike Audiences is an extremely powerful targeting tool because it takes the guesswork out of defining your audience.

Through this method, we are able to retarget audiences who have engaged with us as well as target audiences that are similar to them. We are essentially creating an audience based on behavior as opposed to what we “think” they are interested in.

When using Lookalike Audiences, ensure to not include any additional Behavior or Interest Identifiers as this skews the targeting algorithm. Instead, create audiences for Interests and a separate audience for Lookalikes.

5. Create Ads with your audience in mind

Have you ever noticed that TV commercials for toys never advertise the price?

This is because children are the target audience and the only factor that is important to them is the fun factor.

Ensure your advertising creatives are tailored to each Ad Set’s specific audience’s content preferences, motivations, and pain points. High Networth Individuals, for example, will likely engage in your services for different reasons than a price-sensitive audience group.

Creating multiple creatives that speak specifically to your segmented audience will ensure you’re saying the right things to the right people at the right time.