Step One in Your Social Media Strategy? Know Your Audience

If you’re a small business owner with an Instagram or Facebook profile, it’s safe to say you set it up for a reason.


(And it’s not because you needed yet another thing to manage on a day-to-day basis.)


You understand that a strong social media presence is a critical part of your overall marketing strategy. With more than 4 billion active users, social media is a fast, inexpensive, and effective way to reach almost half the world’s population.


But here’s the thing: Social media isn’t a numbers game. In fact, I’d argue your follower count doesn’t even matter if it’s made up of the wrong people.


That’s why before you even begin posting, you have to identify your target audience. Understanding who the users are that make up your audience — your niche — will help you craft content and messaging that will engage the right people and, ultimately, lead to sales for your business.


So, who is your target audience?


Your target audience is made up of the people who are most likely to be interested in your specific content and, thus, your products or services. Although their demographics may differ, they’re likely to have common characteristics and behaviors.


  • Who are they? Where do they live? How do they spend their days? What are their hobbies? What shows are they binging? The more specific you are about who your target “persona” really is, the more precise you can be with planning content that speaks directly to them.
  • What pain points do they have that you could solve? When you understand your audience’s problems, you can better present a solution.


  • What type of content do they like? Think about what they’re searching for and spending their time on. Maybe it’s tips and checklists, fun videos, or reviews — whatever it is, make it a point to replicate that type of content when creating your content calendar.


With your answers in hand, create an audience “persona” — a fictional customer that represents exactly who you’re trying to reach.


From there, develop content that’s relatable and interesting to that “customer.” Answer any questions they may have, address their problems and challenges, and provide information that will make their life easier — not just to sell your product or service.


Let’s look at an example:


Imagine you’re a local gym owner, and your ideal customer is a 35-year-old female with small children who lives in a busy city. Like many young mothers, she enjoys checking out other local shops, exercising (specifically yoga), hitting up the local coffee spot, and spending time with her family and friends.


So, what type of content would work best? Here are a few ideas:


  • Educational: Stress-free workout routines; easy, healthy recipes; or tips and tricks for making time for yourself on a tight schedule.


  • Q&A’s: What are the most common questions you hear about your gym? Designate posts to provide answers about price, membership, childcare, contract commitments, hours, classes, amenities, etc.


  • Pain Points: Many folks might have worries or anxiety about joining a new gym. Has it been a while since you’ve worked out? Are you nervous about spending the money and not making the time? Do you know what type of workouts would give you the best results? Write content that eases these fears.


  • Memes/Funny: Not all of your posts have to be serious or informative — some can be fun! Curated content (content that you find on other sites) that’s lighthearted and relatable is a great way to break up your feed. (Take it from me, I LOVE a good #momlife meme!)


If you want to dig in a little further, you can tap into existing information and data to better drill down your target audience. To do that, use insights tools and a little in-depth research to:


Determine audience demographics.


Keep track of who follows you on social media and interacts with your posts. Who is liking, sharing, and commenting on your content? Then focus on key characteristics such as age, location, language, interests, etc.


Find out where your audience is most active online.


Once you understand who your audience is, figure out where they’re hanging out online. Older generations, for example, have increased their Facebook use in recent years, while Twitter and Instagram tend to appeal to a younger audience. (Fun fact: 62% of Instagram users are between the ages of 15–34.) By understanding where your audience is spending their time, you can prioritize which social media platforms you want to focus on.


Dive deep into the competition.


Look to your competitors when you’re trying to flesh out your target audience on social media. Who’s responding to their posts and engaging with them? Also, take note of what social networks they’re active on, who their top followers are, their engagement rate, and what hashtags they use. This type of competitor research will allow you to see what’s working well for other businesses in your industry and find additional ideas for your strategy.


Make the most of keywords and hashtags.


What conversations are happening around your business, your industry, and your products? Monitoring relevant keywords and hashtags reveals what people are saying about you and your competitors online, so pay attention. Responding to these social interactions is a great way to find your target audience on social media, even if they’re not yet following you.


Take these steps to identify your target audience when you first start your social media pages, and then again once you’ve been up and running for a few months. I recommend walking through these steps a few times a year to keep your marketing personas, as well as your social media strategy, updated and effective.