Social media audience analysis: How to identify and target your ideal customer on social media

Social media marketing is an opportunity for your clients to connect with customers and build brand loyalty, but without a clear picture of who you’re trying to reach, you risk publishing content that misses the mark. That’s why it’s critical to perform a detailed social media audience analysis before launching your marketing efforts.

Ensure you create social media content that connects with your audience by downloading our free “White-label social media checklist” now.

In this guide, we’ll explore best practices for finding a target audience online. Once you have in-depth insight into customer preferences, you’ll know which platforms they spend time on, what topics they’re interested in, and how to create impactful content that not only captures their attention but inspires engagement.

1. Identify your target audience on social media

A social media target audience is the group of people most curious about your client’s products and services. They’re the users you want to capture with your marketing strategies, and are characterized by shared demographics such as age, marital status, income, job title, and geographic location.

The more information you gather about your target audience, the more successful your outreach will be. Consider the fact that there are 4.8 billion users on social media channels (Data Reportal), discovering trends, sharing content, and learning about products. If you’re offering social media management packages, you’ll need to narrow down this vast digital landscape and zero in on the customers that matter most to your clients.

Bring your social media target audience to life with buyer personas

A buyer persona is a character that you create based on the knowledge you’ve gathered about your customers. Many marketers find it’s easier to use buyer personas to guide their strategies than to think of targeting a random collection of traits.

Depending on your client’s niche, you may be working with a few personas. Define each as precisely as possible so that when you’re crafting your marketing tactics, you feel like you’re speaking to a real person. You can even name each persona to better visualize them.

Elaborate on your buyer personas

Targeted social media marketing requires personas that are as accurate as possible. You’ll use these personas to inform marketing decisions, ensuring your approach resonates with customers and satisfies their needs.

Here are some questions to consider as you craft the personas:

  • What is important to them?
  • What motivates them?
  • What do they value?
  • What are their favorite activities?
  • What are their challenges?
  • Where do they shop and what brands do they like?
  • Who are the influencers they look to?
  • Where do they look for information?
  • Which platforms do they frequent?
  • Do they like to read articles, watch videos, take quizzes, or enter contests?
  • Are they more likely to create user-generated content, hit the like button, comment, or lurk?

Collect information for your social media target audience analysis

Your client’s marketing department may have personas you can use to kickstart your research, but you can build upon these to answer the questions above and create characters that are as vivid as possible.

Here are a few ways to learn more about the target audience of your social media posts:

  • Website analytics. Find out where the site’s visitors are coming from and which pages they’re most interested in.
  • Social media analytics. Most platforms provide demographic information about existing followers, including age, gender, location, and the type of device they’re using.
  • Surveys. Go to the source and ask customers for their opinions directly with polls or survey links. You can offer discounts or loyalty points as an incentive for completing longer surveys.
  • Online research. Find out about customer needs and preferences through online forums, chat boards, reviews, and comments. You can learn what customers like or don’t like about the products, how they’re using them, and the questions they have.
  • Competing brand analysis. Look at how similar businesses communicate with their customers and on which channels.
  • Customer service teams. What feedback are customers giving to staff on the front lines?

2. Analyze social media engagement

Next, get a sense of how customers are already interacting with your client’s brand on each platform. Explore how they respond to various types of content and use this information to expand your personas.

Identify top-performing content

Study the posts that perform the best in terms of likes, comments, shares, and reach. Consider the format as well as the content itself to see what users are interested in.

  • Format type. Does your audience respond best to articles, videos, product links, interactive polls, infographics, or live stories? See if you can spot patterns in engagement and assess why certain posts aren’t generating interest. Did a particularly clever caption or striking image generate more interaction?
  • Content type. Are your customers interested in education, entertainment, humor, inspiration, news, discounts, or products? Bear in mind that performance may also depend on the platform. You may find informational links to blog posts generate better results on Twitter and Facebook, while aspirational content and visuals are more appealing on Instagram.

Incorporate observations about customer behaviors into your buyer personas. You’ll continually circle back to this information as you plan content and refine your marketing strategies.

Track and measure engagement metrics

Continue to analyze content performance on a regular basis, running reports for each channel to monitor increases or drops in engagement and reach. It’s also good practice to establish benchmarks before you launch new campaigns so you can track their effectiveness.

The most common metrics to track are followers, likes, comments, shares, clicks, and conversions. The definition of success depends on your business goals. For example, if your goal is boosting brand awareness, you may want an increase in impressions or followers. If your priority is increasing organic traffic to your website, gauge click-through rates.

3. Understand social listening and monitoring

To get a more precise sense of what your audience is thinking, use social listening and monitoring tools for insight into sentiment about your brand. By looking at activity outside your own posts, you can tap into real-time experiences and discussions.

Social monitoring is the act of tracking mentions of your brand and its competitors, while social listening captures discussions about your industry as a whole. Both techniques provide valuable information about what your target social media audience is feeling so you can tailor content to their needs.

Track brand mentions

Begin by looking for mentions of your client’s brand in posts by other users. Sometimes you’re notified because customers tag the post with your client’s handle or hashtag, but most often, you won’t know if a brand is being talked about unless you make an effort to keep tabs on mentions.

To cover your bases, build a list of keywords related to the brand, including various forms of product names and common misspellings. You can use automated tools to simplify the monitoring process. To gather additional business intelligence, include mentions of competitors and their products.

Engage with your target audience

In a perfect world, customers will express excitement about their experiences, sharing positive mentions about new purchases or visits to your client’s shop or restaurant.

You can acknowledge users with a quick comment. Thoughtful interaction can personalize a brand and help build loyalty, but be careful to avoid a hard-sell if you’re jumping into a conversation.

Address customer needs and interests

Sift through comments to better understand how customers use products and any concerns they have. You can draw on this feedback to generate content ideas for future posts.

If you’re seeing concerns about issues such as shipping, packaging, and design, forward the feedback to your clients for their consideration.

Listen in on your competitors

Social listening tools let you cast the net wider to hear what’s being said about the competition and industry as a whole. Customers might be frustrated with a competing brand’s pricing or selection, or sharing broader concerns about issues such as sustainability.

Jot down what’s important to users and find ways to creatively differentiate your client’s brand and highlight its strengths.

Proactively manage client reputation

When customers are sharing their negative experiences about your client’s brand online, take advantage of the power of social media in reputation management. Whether users are dissatisfied with the customer service or product quality, a quick response can demonstrate care and commitment to customers.

Once you see a customer has expressed a negative opinion on a post or review, offer an acknowledgement or apology and loop in the brand’s customer service department so they can quickly address problems. Potential customers will take a client’s timely response into consideration when deciding whether to do business with them, and you’ll help stem the tide before frustration spreads.

4. Build a strategy based on your social media audience analysis

Now that you know who you’re targeting on social media, leverage your knowledge of their preferences and behaviors and plan a strategy to reach them online. Each audience segment will have specific interests, so you’ll need to tailor your approach.

For example, if your client is a learning toy company aiming to reach educators, parents, and grandparents, your choice of content and channel will differ depending on the priorities of each customer group.

Set goals and choose your messaging strategy

Keeping your business goals in mind, decide what you want to accomplish with your marketing strategy. Are you trying to drive website traffic, boost sales, or attract new followers?

Once you set out the targets to achieve, decide the best way to reach your audience. Your client’s toy company might improve brand awareness by targeting mothers with online videos about the benefits of their products, and generate sales with gift-giving guides for grandparents.

Choose your channels

Using your buyer personas, choose the platforms for finding your target audience on social media. Consider how you’ll present the brand and communicate with users.

Your client’s existing brand voice will inform the tone of your messaging, but you can further refine the voice based on the platform and audience. Brands are typically more formal on LinkedIn, while Twitter offers room for casual messaging. Whether you’re leaning toward a playful, serious, inspirational, or edgy post, always check voice, language, and content against the buyer persona and make sure it resonates.

Create a variety of content

Aim to publish a mix of content on each channel to appeal to different audience segments and keep content fresh. It’s also important to consider the needs of users—they’ll tire of your content if it’s always trying to sell.

Use a framework to guide the type of content you publish. Some marketers use the “rule of thirds,” where one-third of overall posts are promotional or sales-driven, one-third are devoted to sharing curated content, and one-third focus on interacting and engaging users. Others aim for posts to be 80 percent informative and entertaining, and 20 percent promotional. Choose the mix that works best for your client’s business and use it to plan your calendar.

Develop content aligning with your audience's interests and preferences

Now you can begin brainstorming. Look ahead for the next few months and decide whether to showcase products, offer discounts, promote sales, link to blog posts, serve up quick tips, encourage user-generated content, host a Q&A, or share a live story.

By planning ahead, you ensure your strategy satisfies your brand objectives and customer needs. When the calendar is set for the quarter, begin creating the content.

Manage posts with an editorial calendar

Organize the moving parts of your marketing strategy with an editorial calendar, especially if you’re selling social media packages and managing multiple clients. A calendar provides a big-picture overview of what’s coming up the pipeline so you can identify content gaps and plan ahead.

A calendar is also helpful for managing individual items that are rolling out. Slot each post into the calendar, noting the platform and topic. As you create the posts, include the copy, images, and URL links. To ensure you don’t miss opportunities for seasonal promotions, flag holidays or occasions relevant to your audience at the start of the year.

Frequently asked questions

How often should I perform a social media audience analysis?

Review your target audience quarterly so you can tweak marketing strategies as needed. Customer behaviors and needs will change from time to time as new competitors come onto the scene, industry trends shift, and the market fluctuates.

You may also find that you’re attracting a demographic you hadn’t considered, so aim to maximize the potential of this audience as soon as possible. With a regular audience analysis, you can respond to changes as needed, ensuring your client’s brand stays relevant.

What tools can I use for social media audience analysis?

Vendasta’s Social Marketing tool streamlines activities across multiple channels from one dashboard. You can track and respond to comments on different platforms, learn what customers are saying, monitor trends in your niche, and find new customers.

Another tool, Metricool, enables you to analyze and measure social media accounts and ad campaigns, and gain insight into what your competitors are doing. If you prefer to have our digital team create and manage content for your clients, consider our white-label social media management.

About the Author

Solange Messier is the Content Strategy Manager at Vendasta. Solange has spent the majority of her career in content marketing helping companies improve how they connect with their prospects and customers. Her diverse background includes magazine publishing, book publishing, marketing agencies, payment processing, and tech. When she's not working, Solange can be found spending time with her family, running, and volunteering.

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