Planning your social media strategy can be a daunting task, and starting without a plan can be time-consuming and costly. To make the most of your social media strategy, you must first focus on understanding your audience. Below are three essential steps for audience analysis.
Determine whether your market is B2B, B2C or both?
Before you can build an effective social media plan, understand your product, service, or solution and where it fits into the market. Most brands either target consumers (B2C) or other businesses (B2B), though some brands may involve both.
The key differences between B2B and B2C audiences are industry knowledge, access, and relevance.
- Industry knowledge: Business customers often have more specific, “expert” knowledge of your industry. Consumers may or may not have this industry knowledge.
- Access: Customers may have access to more industry-focused resources like publications, trade shows and conferences, which can present opportunities to gather and present exclusive content. Consumers may have access to a wider variety of general resources but may focus on a select few.
- Relevance: They will ask, “What can this do for my business?” while consumers will ask, “What can this do for me/my family?”
If your audience is businesses and consumers, you will want to plan separate social media strategies and segment your channels.
Identify Your Customer Persona
Once you know the broad category under which your audience falls, you can narrow in and identify the key traits of your ideal customer. This “customer persona” is a complete profile that gives you an idea of how your product, service, or solution fits into your customers’ lives. Key elements of the customer persona, which are further detailed below, include:
The purpose of collecting this data is to understand your customer so you can approach your marketing more strategically (whether online or offline) and achieve the results you want. The more clear and detailed your customer persona, the better.
Demographics are basic traits about your customers and where they fall in statistical spheres. You should at least have a clear idea of your customer’s age or generation, location, language, and gender. You can use free data analytics tools like Google Analytics, Twitter Analytics, and Facebook Insights to identify trends in audience demographics and make informed inferences about your customer persona.
For a more complete idea of your customer, also consider their education level, income, and family composition. You can infer much of this from the qualities of your product/service/solution. Research your top competitors to see how their audiences and strategies compare.
Where demographics refer to more broad statistics, psychographics is more personalized to the individual. Psychographic traits include the customer’s beliefs, values, attitudes, aspirations, interests, hobbies, political and religious views. Finding this data requires you to get inside your ideal customer’s mind, something more easily accomplished the better you know your brand. You can also gather this data through surveys and customer interviews.
Once you have your customer persona filled in with demographic and psychographic traits, you can dig deeper into the customer’s mindset by determining their needs. For this, ask the following questions:
- My customer’s ideal lifestyle?
- What does my customer need to lead this lifestyle?
- What is missing from my customer’s life that prevents them from leading this lifestyle?
Following this chain of questions leads you to the most important question: How does my product, service or solution fill the gap between my customer’s current lifestyle and their ideal lifestyle?
Create a Customer Journey Map
A Customer Journey Map (CJM)* is a helpful tool for both understanding your audience buying process and recognizing your brand’s strengths and weaknesses. Once you understand your customer persona, the goal is to trace a path through the customer’s buying journey from the moment they first notice your brand to post-sale.
There are four stages to the CJM: Awareness, Deliberation, Decision, and Retention. Within each of these stages, you must consider the customer’s motivation, their interaction with your brand, and what opportunities exist to help both parties achieve their goals. At each of these points ask, “What does the customer get out of this?”
*Sources: Fred Pryor Seminars, “Optimizing Your Digital Marketing Strategy,” June 22, 2018.
Use this tool along with the other two steps to paint a clear picture of understanding your audience. From there, planning your social media strategy will be much easier and more effective.
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