For all the talks of internet being more measurable than traditional media, most brands still fall short in optimizing their social media efforts by not narrowing down on where exactly is their target audience amongst dozens of popular platforms. Initially, in Search Engine Marketing, we marketers were restricted to target users based on their location using I.P. address tracking and also via interests based on the search query typed. But this is obviously not a complete picture because our target audience gets influenced and makes purchase decisions based on a lot of other factors like sex, platform being used and recommendations from friends etc.
And this is where social media comes in – Most platforms have such a deep knowledge of our personal data like interests, kind of friends, age, sex, current location etc. that it becomes much easier for them to categorise the user base and present targeted information to marketers. But one thing which I have realized in my past 7-8 social media projects is this:
Build it, and they will come. Just make sure your content and strategy is in sync with people whom you are targeting. Content and context are still kings, after all.
Why this happens is because of the most common filtering solution, social interests and good discoverability. X guy sees my content in my community, and shares it to all his x00 friends. Out of those x00, only Y% users will come to your branded community. But they will be highly relevant to you and will get you y% more users.
The conclusion: It’s pull. Not push.
It takes time for this viral effect to kick in (depends on platform design and content strategy) .. so it’s always good to give momentum to this virality by pushing out some social ads from your own side. Here’s how you can reach out to your target audience on various social media platforms:
- Take a thorough look at the demographics of the audience and then decide which platform is best suited for you. Do a quick search for demographics for social media platforms which would give you a list of options. Collate your data from there and narrow down to 1-2 platforms you think your target audience might reside e.g. B2B audience and chatter would be on Linkedin and not on Facebook. Teens would be on Orkut, Myspace and Facebook etc.
- Most of the stats you would find online are via international research and you can either extrapolate this data to India or you can also take help of Indian tools like Vizisense.com which is a personal favourite and is owned by Komli Media [below is a sample screenshot for Facebook]
Next step can be a bit tricky, because every platform has a different UI and requires different strategy to reach out to your audience. A brief summary of how to do this on Facebook and Twitter is below. But the basic strategy for any other platform is the same too. Be a part of the platform using a profile / community and start interacting with the audience. Remember the golden rule:
Content + Conversations = Community
This one is the easiest and the bestest. Facebook is the big bad wolf. It knows everything about you. What things you like. Your complete demographics to the extent of your family relations. And this CRM data can be used by marketers by using Facebook ads. You can advertise for an external link or a Group / Page inside Facebook. The payment models for these ads can be both CPC or CPM as usual in SEM practices.
Though not open for all, Twitter has recently opened up Promoted Trending Topics and Promoted Tweets in search queries. When a user searches for a query, on the top he can see relevant tweets from the advertiser which he can then again interact with. So, if you are trying to reach out to movie buffs, it would be a good idea to buy promoted tweets for the search query movies, mall etc.
Same goes for promoted Trending Topics. It has also very recently launched an @earlybirds account from where users can see discounts and deals being offered via different brands. Bad news is, all these new experiments are still in Beta and only via invitation.
The other option you have is to use the Twitter API and some tools like Tweeple etc. to find tweets and users based on their profile info, status updates, location, conversations etc. Below is a good list of tools to start from:
- Tweeple – Complete bio and update history of Indian Twitter users
- Listorious – List of users based on topics of interest
- Advanced Twitter search – Good old fashioned style of searching content via words and location of users
This platform is more of a professional place where users can connect with others from the same industry. Though the UI design is not very ‘social’ the one thing that has made Linkedin more than just an online CV marketplace are the discussions happening in various groups.
Anyone can create a group based on interests and invite other users. And this should be the strategy that your every B2B effort should incorporate i.e.
- Build a strong presence of your brand representatives on Linkedin via personal profiles.
- Infiltrate relevant groups using these profiles. Keep an active eye on new groups related to your industry, this is the only way to find your audience.
- Engage users in conversations around your industry. Answer their queries. Solve their problems. And then you can start converting leads into sales.
- To have more control over the activities, you should also look at owning your own active and growing group. Your broad objective here should be to make sure that the market perceives you as the thought leader which gives out good content.
The Microsoft MVP (Most Valued Professional) Program is a very good and highly successful example of the above strategy.
Apart from these you can also use tools for the complete social web like:
- Klout – To identify thought leaders / influencers in various topics on social media
- Radian6 / Alterian SM2 – Monitoring tools to identify people talking about you
- Beatblogging.org – To find out bloggers via topics of interest