June 06, 2013

Social Media Basics: Know your Audience

So you are now on Twitter, you've got your company Facebook page, your Instagram account and you are ready to get your message, services and or product noticed. Before randomly blasting tweets and posts all day, do the proper research and find out about your target audience. Everyone has certain schedules and environmental factors that determine when and why they turn to Social Media. In order to design your Social Media Marketing Plan, be sure you know your audience. Three things are determining factors in how you should tailor your message so it is seen and received by the widest audience possible. Let's go over each one....

Where do they live, what effects their lives, what environment have they surrounded themselves with that effects their buying habits? Each are unique and offer clues to who your customer is. Someone living in metropolitan areas, in most cases, will have a different mindset that those who live in say, farm country, or the mountains. If your product or services appeal to these different geographical sectors, your message needs to reflect that specifically and when you tweet or post is determined on who and how many see it. So, if you live on the east coast and you tweet at 9 AM, it's 6 AM on the west coast, and in the UK it's 2PM in the afternoon. You must set up your posts so that you maximize each geographic location's access to your info. Remember what we discussed in the last post: A great post is technically nonexistent if no one sees it.

According to Wikipedia: "Commonly examined demographics include gender, age, ethnicity, knowledge of languages, disabilities, mobility, home ownership, employment status, and even location. Demographic trends describe the historical changes in demographics in a population over time (for example, the average age of a population may increase or decrease over time). Both distributions and trends of values within a demographic variable are of interest. Demographics are very essential about the population of a region and the culture of the people there." This is the basic knowledge about your audience.

Again, from Wikipedia "Psychographics is the ...study of personality, values, attitudes, interests, and lifestyles. Because this area of research focuses on interests, activities, and opinions, psychographic factors are also called IAO variables"

This, to me, is the most important aspect of knowing your audience. I also think, especially for the small to midsized business, it is the most overlooked and under-utilized part of identifying your customer. The national or international companies we all know spend millions of dollars on 'test marketing' and analysis of the consumer and their buying and lifestyle habits, hiring folks like me who specialize in this aspect.

This is who your customer is. What color do they like? Oh, think that's not important? If your potential customer hates red, and you're all about red ...very oversimplified, but you get the picture.
Now some call this psychological manipulation and in some forms it is. The media, entertainment industry, politicians, huge corporations all tailor their message, some for the right reasons, some for the wrong ones. The right way is not to manipulate at all. It's to find out what's meaningful and important to your target audience, discover their need or desire and figure out a way to make them know you are the solution. Heady stuff, I'll grant you, but very, very important. 

If I use words that only I like in my post or tweets, giving a message that appeals just to me, generally, I'm the only one hearing that message. But, if I tailor my message to how you need to hear it, even if I don't get it, you do.

An analytical, or logical decision maker is usually numbers driven. This person needs to see, in black and white, the value of your product or services. They need facts, data. They are not concerned about how your product or service makes them feel. They simply ask, "'Does this make factual and economical sense for me and my life." Think, lawyers, engineers, doctors, etc..

Conversely, the emotional person need to feels something. Your message needs to push the buttons that appeal to them. Loewenstein and Lerner (Google them) divide emotions during decision-making into two types: those anticipating future emotions and those who are feeling emotions immediately while deliberating and deciding.

An example would be the emotional attachment a mom has to her family. She is concerned about the welfare of her kids, household, etc. While numbers may be important to her budget, phrases like, 'give your family the best,' or, 'good for your kids,' work wonders in attracting attention to whatever product or service is being offered.

Another example you would recognize; Nike. Endorsements from celebrity athletes appeal to the performance audience. The ability to customize the colors and materials appeal to the fashion audience. Rare, limited editions appeal to the status conscious audience. From an advertising perspective, the brand talks to one audience very differently than the other. Same product, but three distinct and unique messages.

These same factors apply to Social Media. Especially when you realize that each 140 character tweet, Facebook post, Instagram pic and its caption, are all basically mini advertisements.

The more you know about what motivates that person to ACT, in accordance with what we'd like them to do, the more you can tailor your approach to hit all those hot buttons that make them say, "I'll take it," "Sign me up," "I'll follow you on twitter," "I'll buy your cookbook," etc.

By doing a little research, these three areas can tell you who your targeted audience is so you can build a trusting and lasting relationship with them. Do that, you have a fan, customer, reader, patron...for life.

Till next time

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