Let’s face it. Creating and publishing content can often feel like screaming into the Grand Canyon: you know people are there, but hardly anyone responds. Regardless of how engaging or persuasive your online content is, it won’t have the desired impact unless it’s in front of the right audience. However, getting your content in front of those individuals is often easier said than done. To find your target audience online, you need to discover exactly who they are and go where they are. By the end of this comprehensive post, defining and locating your ideal customers will be a walk in the (national) park.
Define Your Target Audience
Before we jump in and get into the details of locating your target market, it’s essential to establish exactly what the term means. Essentially, your target market or target audience is a group of individuals who are likely to buy your products or services. These people are united by common characteristics such as age, behaviors, and location.
Your first impulse might be to think broadly when defining your audience. However, establishing your target as women in Maryland, dog owners, or even Millennials puts you at a significant disadvantage. As much as you may want to, you can’t target everyone. Clarifying your audience and getting into specific details allows you to find, understand, and engage your niche, effectively making you a big fish in a small pond.
When delineating your target market, use the funnel method: start with broader details (demographics), and then get into the specifics (psychographics). This allows you to build a more comprehensive profile of your target and makes it easier to spot these individuals in an ocean of profiles, pages, and groups.
Demographics, the more traditional, apparent characteristics of your audience, provide the best starting point for narrowing down your ideal market. With your current customer base in mind, ask yourself questions such as:
- How old are my customers? Is there a specific age range they fall in, or does my product/service appeal to a particular life stage (e.g., retirees, college years)?
- Is my product/service for men, women, non-binary individuals, or does my brand appeal to all people?
- Where is my target customer located? Are they close to me (e.g., same neighborhood or neighboring city), states away, or international?
- What income level does my customer fall into, and what is their occupation?
- What is their education level? Do they have a high-school diploma, or do they hold a Ph.D.?
- Are my target customers single, in a relationship, married, or divorced? Do they have children?
- Is my product/service ethnically neutral, or does it cater to individuals of a specific ethnicity?
Ideally, you should finish your demographic brainstorming with a good idea of your target’s age, gender, location, income level, occupation, education level, relationship and family status, and ethnicity. Once you have these overarching characteristics established, it’s time to drill down to what makes your audience distinct.
Psychographics refers to the factors that set your target market apart from the rest: their attitudes, aspirations, values, habits, and behaviors. Establishing psychographics for your audience is the key to fully defining and finding your audience. Don’t be scared to get creative and specific when brainstorming psychographic traits! The more precise you are in building this persona, the more likely it is that your content will resonate. Here are some excellent jumping-off points for brainstorming:
- What are your customer’s core values?
- Do they like to read books, or do they prefer to watch television? What genres do they prefer?
- What websites do they frequent?
- What kind of lifestyle do they lead? Are they more active or sedentary? Are they vegetarian or vegan?
- How does your product/service fit into their daily routine?
- What are their significant likes/dislikes? What does that tell you about them?
- What are their extracurricular activities? What do they do to relax?
- What motivates them?
An introspective look at your product or service can also tell you a lot about your target customer. Evaluate your brand by asking:
- How are customers using your product/service?
- What features appeal to your current customers?
- When do they hire you for your service or use your product?
- Where are they using your product or service?
- What don’t customers like about your product/service?
Conduct General Research
After determining who your target audience is, it’s time to figure out where they are. There are several ways you can go about this, but we’ve outlined three tried-and-true methods below.
Survey Your Customers
When in doubt, just ask! Surveying your current customers tells you where people like your target are and gives you great information to incorporate back into your target audience persona. Whether it takes the form of data collection during the online checkout process, or an opt-in survey, be sure to ask:
- What social media sites are you using daily?
- What websites, influencers, and/or blogs do you look to for information on _______ (e.g., dog training, cake baking, or whatever is relevant to your brand)
Include other questions as you see fit for your audience. For example, if you know your target audience listens to “This American Life,” ask what other podcasts your customers tune into.
Reputable third-party sources such as HubSpot, PewResearch, and Business Insider offer many articles and studies with the most up-to-date demographics research for social media. By utilizing these resources, you’ll know exactly where your target audience tends to reside online, year after year.
Look to Your Competition
Another method is to analyze your competitor’s online activity. What social platforms are they using? Are they guest blogging anywhere? What kinds of ads and posts are they producing? Who is engaging with them? Where are they receiving the most engagement?
While you won’t be able to get a detailed audience research report, you will be able to get a general sense of who is interacting with your competitors, what platforms are working well for them, and how they are positioning themselves.
Pinpoint Your Audience with Social Tools
You’ve defined your target market down to the type of soap they use, and your research tells you they are most active on Facebook, Vox, and the true-crime podcast “Up and Vanished.” Now it’s time to put that knowledge to the test and find your audience! Luckily, various social sites have different tools you can use to pinpoint exactly where your target market is on their platform.
Trying to find and estimate the size of your audience on Facebook? Say hello to your new best friend: Facebook Ads Manager. With the Ads Manager, you can narrow down your audience by location, gender, interests, etc., and see precisely how many people fall into that niche. You can also upload your customers’ email addresses to create custom and lookalike audiences – an audience that is similar to your most dedicated customers.
An additional Facebook feature prime for target audience locating is the search bar. Simply type in the interests of your target audience in the search tool to find groups dedicated to those activities. For example, if you run a small, dog-friendly brewery in D.C. and are looking to target individuals who appreciate a passion fruit IPA and love taking their four-legged friends out with them, try searching “craft beer” or “D.C. dog owners” to find groups that fit your criteria.
While less robust than Facebook’s Ad Manager tool, the ad platform ads.twitter.com can find and research your audience based on gender, geography, interests, keywords, and more! Twitter also provides an advanced search tool that targets potential audience members based on their location, the relevant keywords they use, who they tweet about, and when they tweeted. After finding your target individuals, be sure to visit their profiles and check out the people under the “You might like” section. This is a quick and easy way to discover even more people and broaden your audience.
Once you’ve identified specific target audience members, create a new Twitter list and add them to it. Not only does this allow you to keep tabs on what your target audience is discussing, but it also allows you to easily engage with them.
The nature of your brand and the attributes of your target audience determine whether you should search for your desired market on LinkedIn. If, for example, you sell vintage comic books and are aiming to connect with Millennials who love Marvel movies, your efforts may be spent better elsewhere. However, if you’re a marketing association hoping to engage with young PR professionals, LinkedIn is the perfect place for you to make valuable one-on-one connections. Use the search bar to look for people that have pertinent keywords in their profile (e.g., “PR,” “recent graduate”) and work your way down the results. As you go, make a note of who you may want to connect with.
Finding your target on Instagram can be boiled down to one word: hashtags. Hashtags are essential in finding and gaining visibility within your target market and the niche groups and communities they inhabit. Look at the posts of people already engaging with your brand who fall into your target. What hashtags relevant to you are they using? Be sure also to check out your competitors and note their hashtag usage. Then, using the Instagram Explore page, search those hashtags to determine if other members of your target are using them. The interests and attributes you outlined when you defined your target market can be of use here as well! Plugin key phrases into the search bar to see what hashtags are being used around those identifiers.
A second way to boost the visibility of your content on Instagram is to tag your posts with locations. Especially if there is a local aspect to your product/service, tagging your photos with well-known, relevant places can increase your exposure among users who are interested in what your local culture can offer.
As an up-and-coming platform, chances are that your target audience hangs out on Reddit. Reddit hosts a variety of forums, ranging from the broadest topics to the most niche communities. The sheer scope of Reddit, coupled with the level of engagement and social monitoring it offers, makes it a great place to find and involve your audience. Search for a broad topic that relates to your brand and interests your target audience, and choose a subreddit where you believe your audience is likely to be. The benefits of Reddit are two-fold: not only does it allow you to locate your market, but keeping a close eye on threads also gives you plentiful opportunities to engage and provides ideas for content guaranteed to capture your audience’s attention.
Bringing It All Together
Finding your target audience on social media is as easy as 1,2,3: 1) Define your target market using demographics, psychographics, and your product/service; 2) Conduct general research through surveying your customers, looking into third-party sources, and analyzing your competition; and 3) Pinpoint precisely where and who your target individuals are through the tools various platforms provide.
Does defining your target still feel a bit daunting? Never fear, MOSAIC is here! With years of experience in drafting target personas and crafting social strategy, our marketing experts specialize in reaching your audience no matter where they are. Connect with our team today!