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As a business owner in any industry, the internet – or more specifically – social media should play an integral role in your marketing plan. Why? Because this is where your prospects are, and if you’re not marketing via these channels, you’re simply not reaching who you need to in order to be successful. Consider for a moment that 74% of adult internet users are active on social networking sites. Additionally, 28% of the time spent online is on social media platforms. These are the facts. Now, let’s take a look at how you can leverage these statistics to best define and reach your target audience.

Determine What You Have to Offer

You know your product or service, but do you know precisely what benefit it offers to your customers? Does it solve a particular problem or meet a specific need? How is your brand unique? What makes you stand out amongst the competition? You can’t begin to define your target audience until you first have a clear and accurate picture of what you bring to the table.

Understand Who They Are

Stop for a moment and imagine your ideal customer. Is it someone who is young, say between the ages of 18-30? Or perhaps your product or service is more geared toward Baby Boomers. Are you targeting a specific demographic, such as adult women? These are all important questions to ask because they help you define who you are trying to market your brand to. Obviously if your product is women’s shoes, you don’t want to waste your time, money and resources marketing in an area that is used primarily by the male population. By understanding who you’re trying to reach, you can then move on to the next step.

Know Where to Find Them

When you have a clear picture of who your target audience is, it’s easier to determine where your prospects are most likely to spend their time online. The nice folks over at Pew Research Center were kind enough to pull together some juicy info on which social platforms are most popular with which demographic.

For example, 77% of Facebook users are women and 87% of those women are 18-29 years old. Furthermore, 72% of female Facebook users make an average annual income of over $75,000. Conversely, 24% of men use Twitter, versus only 21% of women. You get the picture. This info is critical because it shows you where to focus more of your efforts for optimum results.

Determine What Their Needs/Wants Are

Part of defining your target audience also involves gaining a deeper understanding of what that demographic needs and wants. What are their pain points, and more importantly, how can your product or service provide a solution? When you know what your audience is looking for, you can better develop and deliver content that most closely meets those needs and desires. This will improve the chances of attracting, engaging and converting your prospects into long-term, paying customers.

Do Some Spying

No, I’m not saying go out and purchase a Get Smart shoe phone, or dress in camouflage for some covert operation (although, that would be kind of cool). I’m saying do some healthy spying on your competition. Check out a competitor who is winning at social media to figure out who they’re targeting and, equally important, what type of content seems to be attracting those prospects. This can help you develop your own strategy that is similar so that you can (hopefully) achieve the same or better results.

We’ll be delving deeper into how best to leverage each social media platform, but for now, focus on determining exactly who you are trying to reach and where to find those prospects. This will give you a solid foundation on which to develop a robust and highly effective social media marketing plan.

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