Target audience definition
A social media target audience is the specific group of people you want to reach with your social channels. They are the people who are most likely to be interested in your content, products, or services. They are likely united by some common characteristics, like demographics and behaviors.
As you develop your target audience definition, don’t be afraid to get highly specific. You can start with broad categories like millennials or single dads. But good social media audience research will allow you to get into much finer detail.
Remember: You can sell to everyone, but you can’t target everyone with all of your social content. You can’t speak directly to your best potential customers if you’re trying to speak to their kids and parents and spouses and colleagues at the same time.
How to find your social media target audience
Social media audience research isn’t complicated. It’s mainly about narrowing your focus while expanding your reach.
We’ve created a free social media audience research template to help you keep track of all the information you learn as you conduct your research.
Bonus: Get the free template to easily craft a detailed profile of your ideal customer and/or target audience.
1. Compile data on your existing customers and social media audience
Who most wants to engage with you on social media? Start with the people already buying from you, following you, and interacting with your posts. Some data points you might want to consider are:
- Age: You don’t need to get too specific here. Focus on learning which decade of life your social media target audience is in, or their generation.
- Location (and time zone): Where in the world does your social media audience live? This helps you understand which geographic areas to target. You’ll also learn what hours are most important for your customer service and sales reps to be online. And when you should schedule your social ads and posts to ensure best visibility.
- Language: What language does your target audience speak? Don’t assume it’s your language. And don’t assume they speak the dominant language of their current physical location.
- Spending power and patterns: How much money does your target audience for social media sites have to spend? How do they approach purchases in your price category? Do they have specific financial concerns or preferences you need to address?
- Interests: What does your target audience like to do? What TV shows do they watch? What other businesses do they interact with?
- Challenges: What pain points is your social media audience dealing with?
- Stage of life: Does your social media target audience include college students? New parents? Parents of teens? Retirees?
B2B companies should also consider:
- Size of business: What kinds of businesses buy from and engage with you? Are they start-ups or enterprise-level brands?
- Who tends to make the buying decisions: Are you targeting the CEO? The CTO? The social marketing manager?
Social media analytics provide much of this information. Facebook Audience Insights can be particularly helpful.
Your own customer database can also provide a wealth of information. You can’t assume that your overall customer demographics will match your target audience for social media sites. But understanding who’s already buying from you can help you understand who’s most likely to be interested in your social channels.
If you’re not already, now would be a great time to incorporate UTM codes into social posts, either manually or using a social media management platform like Hootsuite. This will allow you to gather information about who clicks on your content using Google Analytics.
Once you have UTM codes in place, open Google Analytics. Audience Insights provides valuable demographic information about your most engaged social media audience.
2. Use social listening to find conversations about your brand
Social listening is a key way to uncover conversations about your business, your industry, and your products. Monitoring relevant keywords and hashtags reveals what people are saying about you and your competitors online, even when you’re not tagged.
Reaching out in response to these social posts is a great way to find your target audience on social media, even if they’re not yet following you.
You can also use social listening for deeper social media audience research. As you monitor keywords and hashtags, you may uncover other relevant hashtags your audience uses. You can then test adding these hashtags to your social posts to extend your reach to more relevant users.
3. Research which social channels your audience uses
Now you have a sense of who your audience might be and what they’re talking about online. So it’s time to find out where they already spend their time on social media. There are a couple of tools you can use to find this information.
Hootsuite Insights Powered by Brandwatch
Enter a combination of relevant terms for your business in the search bar. Using Boolean logic, you can get quite detailed here. Then scroll down to see which are the top sites, hashtags, and authors for your search.