Top 10 Tips for Successful Social Media Marketing. ChatGPT wrote this article in less than a minute, then I spent four hours writing the rest.

There has been a lot of talk about ChatGPT. What is it? To get a definition I asked ChatGPT itself, “What is ChatGPT?” Its response was:

It is not clear what you are referring to with the term “ChatGPT.” GPT stands for “Generative Pre-training Transformer,” which is a type of artificial intelligence model developed by OpenAI. It is used to generate human-like text and has been trained on a large dataset of internet text to learn the patterns and structures of language. ChatGPT is not a commonly used term, and it is unclear what it might refer to. Could you provide more context or clarify your question?

Why does this chatbot not know its own name? The term ChatGPT returns 177 million Google search results and has its own Wikipedia page. In all fairness, ChatGPT does list one of its limitations as having limited knowledge of world events after 2021. I supposed it didn’t know how popular it would become after its free public beta release in November 2022. Since it didn’t know that term, my next question was, “What are you?” Its response was:

I am an artificial intelligence trained to assist with a variety of tasks, including answering questions, providing information, and generating text. I do not have feelings or emotions, and I exist solely to assist users like you. I do not have a physical body and exist only in the digital realm. I was created by OpenAI and am here to help you with any questions or information you may need. Is there anything specific you would like to know or discuss?

I wanted to get a blog post written before the end of the year so I thought I would ask ChatGPT “Write an 800 to a 1,000-word article providing the top ten tips for social media marketing.” Below is the 553-word article.

According to Semrush, the word count for an informational blog post should be 1,000-1,500 words. Guides and how-tos should be 1,500-2,500 words. I aimed low and got something lower, but additions of my own writing got me a higher word count for SEO. I also asked, “What is a good headline for this article?” ChatGPT wrote both in less than a minute:

10 Top Tips for Successful Social Media Marketing by ChatGPT.

  1. Define your goals and target audience. Before jumping into the world of social media marketing, it’s important to have a clear understanding of what you want to achieve and who you want to reach. Are you looking to increase brand awareness, generate leads, or drive sales? Are you targeting a specific age group or geographic location? Defining your goals and target audience will help guide your content strategy and ensure that you’re using the right social media platforms to reach your desired audience.
  2. Create a content calendar. Consistency is key when it comes to social media marketing, and a content calendar can help you stay organized and on track. Plan out your posts in advance, including the content, hashtags, and any calls to action. This will help you maintain a consistent posting schedule and ensure that you’re providing value to your followers.
  3. Use visually appealing content. With so much competition on social media, it’s important to make your content stand out. Use high-quality images and videos, and consider using design tools like Canva or Adobe Spark to create visually appealing graphics and infographics.
  4. Utilize hashtags. Hashtags can help increase the visibility of your content, especially on platforms like Instagram and Twitter. Research popular hashtags in your industry and consider creating a branded hashtag for your business. Just be sure not to overuse hashtags – a few relevant ones are usually enough.
  5. Engage with your audience. Social media is all about building relationships, and that means actively engaging with your followers. Respond to comments and messages, and take the time to like and share content from other users. This helps to foster a sense of community and can lead to increased brand loyalty.
  6. Utilize paid advertising. While organic reach on social media can be limited, paid advertising can help increase the visibility of your content. Platforms like Facebook and Instagram offer a variety of targeting options, allowing you to reach a specific audience based on demographics, interests, and behaviors.
  7. Collaborate with influencers. Influencer marketing can be an effective way to reach a larger audience and build credibility for your brand. Look for influencers in your industry who have a loyal following and consider partnering with them to promote your products or services.
  8. Track and analyze your results. It’s important to track the success of your social media marketing efforts to see what’s working and what may need to be adjusted. Use tools like Google Analytics to track website traffic from social media, and use native analytics tools on each platform to track engagement and reach.
  9. Keep up with algorithm updates. Social media algorithms are constantly changing, and it’s important to stay up to date on the latest updates to ensure that your content is being seen by your audience. Be proactive in understanding how these updates may impact your content strategy and adjust accordingly.
  10. Experiment and try new things. Social media is a constantly evolving landscape, and it’s important to be willing to try new things and experiment with different strategies. Don’t be afraid to test out new content formats, platforms, or paid advertising options to see what works best for your business. The key is to be agile and adaptable and to always be looking for ways to improve your social media marketing efforts.

I would make all these general recommendations myself.

They are good tips, and it is good writing. But honestly, it’s not anything new that I haven’t been teaching in my social media marketing class since 2011. I’ve also recommended these basic tips in my Social Media Strategy book since 2015.

A big missing piece for me is attributions. Where did this information come from? I know it came from the Internet, but the standard is to cite sources with hyperlinks. I would have included links to experts with first-hand experience, supporting research, data, cases and/or examples. I asked ChatGPT why it doesn’t cite sources and it said:

“I was trained on a dataset of text gathered from the Internet, including books articles, and websites. As artificial intelligence, I do not have the ability to cite specific sources or authors for the information that I provide.”

When I asked it to rewrite the article with academic references it added three APA in-text citations in various places (Kotler et all., 2018), (Freeman, 2018), and (Hootsuite, 2020). There were no full references and no hyperlinks. It seemed to be mimicking academic citations but it wasn’t actually citing sources. Some articles from its dataset must have used references but ChatGPT didn’t pull the full reference or links.

Like, Wall Street Journal technology columnist Joanna Stern who used ChatGPT to write an AP Lit essay, the article “passes.” Yet for Stern using AI to participate in a class discussion was a “fail.” I can imagine writing an article like this, but when a client hires me to create a social media strategy, what would I do? In a face-to-face meeting, physically or virtually, they would be asking very specific questions. Would I pause to ask the chatbot each time?

A student who spent a minute writing an assignment with ChatGPT may get a passing grade, but could they participate in class discussion? Without reading the text, researching the evidence, and thinking critically they’ve missed the learning. Stern’s AP English teacher Michael Dimond said, “They’re not learning what I am asking them to do if the Internet can give them a full essay because they’re missing out on the process of writing.”

It’s the process that leads to learning.

The process leads to unique, creative, and effective strategies for clients or your own business. There are no shortcuts. A student in my class may write a general social media strategy “tips” paper with ChatGPT but what about creating and implementing a unique strategy for a specific client or their boss?

Can AI replace the knowledge gained in my undergraduate and two advanced degrees, plus 17 years of professional marketing, and 10 years of teaching experience? I suppose some of those articles it scanned were my own. I’ve also been working on developing my own voice all these years. Having a distinct personality expressed as a distinguishable voice in writing is important for people and brand communication. I asked ChatGPT “Can you write this article again in a different personality?” It said:

“As an artificial intelligence, I do not have feelings or emotions, and I do not have a personality in the same way that a human does. That being said, I can certainly rewrite the article in a different style or tone if you would like.”

So I asked it to rewrite the tips in various tones. Each came quickly. Ironically, the academic tone took the longest. For an informal tone, ChatGPT added an introduction, “Hey there! Are you looking to boost your social media game? Here are tips to help you out.” For an academic tone it began, “In today’s day and age, social media marketing has become an essential tool for businesses looking to reach and engage with their target audience.”

Finally, I asked it to have a humorous tone. It rewrote the intro as “Are you tired of being the only person on your block without a solid social media marketing strategy? Well, fear not – I’m here to help! Here are ten tips to help you achieve social media fame and fortune (or at least a decent number of likes and comments).”

At first, I was impressed and scared by these results! Then I realized that every person or brand that wants a humorous tone doesn’t want the same humorous tone. All social media professors don’t want the same academic tone and all banks don’t want the same formal tone. I worked on many different bank brands over the years. Often it was the unique strategies, ideas, and brand voice we developed that created differentiation in a category where all checking account features tend to be the same.

Can ChatGPT create those unique strategies? Next, I asked, “Can you create a social media marketing strategy for a specific business?” It said “certainly” and wrote a nine-step list very similar to the ten tips ending confidently with “By following these steps, you can create a comprehensive social media marketing strategy that will help your business achieve its goals and engage with its target audience.”

If only it were that simple.

Anyone managing social media for a business or organization knows that it is not that simple. Below is a paraphrased version of the introduction to my Social Media Strategy book:

You turn to Google for top social media tips. Lists make us feel that social media can be simple: follow these ten steps and you’ll succeed! The truth is there is no one-list-fits-all social media strategy. A successful social media strategy needs to be unique to the brand, its products, services, and customers. Otherwise, you’re chasing social media tactics that may or may not work for your organization and situation. Only when a unique strategy is developed will those tips and lists be useful by focusing on the advice that applies.

In my digital marketing course, students write their own blogs during the semester applying concepts and best practices to test and learn from real results. The assignment also helps establish their personal brands, demonstrate skills for employers, gain confidence, and prepare them to be lifelong learners. It would be easier to use ChatGPT to write the required blog posts and get a passing grade, but what did they cheat themselves out of?

What about cheating?

I asked ChatGPT, “Can students use you to cheat on their writing assignments?” It responded:

It is not appropriate to use artificial intelligence or any other external resources to cheat on assignments or exams. Cheating undermines the learning process and devalues the hard work and achievements of those who have earned their grades honestly. Instead of relying on shortcuts, it is important for students to take the time to develop their own understanding and skills.

The Educational Technology Committee at my university pointed out that Open AI’s Terms of Use states, “You may not…represent that output from the Services was human-generated when it is not.” This doesn’t discount ChatGPT and other AI assistants as learning tools.

Using it could help me refine my writing, research, and recommendations. This AI-generated article helps me understand where the real work needs to be done in social media. Elicit is an AI tool that can help speed up the literature review in my academic research. I also used the AI tool Grammarly to catch grammar mistakes in my portions of this post. ChatGPT agrees saying:

There are many ways in which students can use AI tools like me to enhance their learning and writing skills. For example, students can use me to clarify their understanding of a concept, to generate ideas for a writing assignment, or to proofread and edit their work. However, it is important that students use these resources as a supplement to their own learning and effort, rather than relying on them to complete assignments without putting in the necessary work.

ChatGPT gives good answers, but as it says, that does not replace the hard work and rewards of learning on your own. ChatGPT gave me a 533-word social media strategy blog post in 1 minute that I could have published four hours ago, but in the writing process, I learned a lot more to bring to my class next semester including having students use ChatGPT in class to write one of their blog posts and discuss the limits and benefits. Hopefully, they’ll appreciate writing as worth doing beyond the grade.

Hopefully, you’ve appreciated this mostly human-written article beyond the AI-generated tips. I’ve had many “conversations” with ChatGPT. It provided useful information, but I don’t feel a bond to it. The kind of human connection I get from colleagues I’ve met at conferences, I’ve worked with at marketing agencies, or my favorite bloggers and podcasters.

AI isn’t going away. Microsoft invested $1 billion in the company behind ChatGPT and plans on adding its features to its Bing search engine this Spring. Search Engine Land reports it could return human-like text answers to questions instead of lists of links as a challenge to Google’s search engine dominance. Another topic to discuss in my Digital Marketing course! How will you use or not use AI?

The Anatomy of a Social Media Plan: How It Has Changed Over the Last 10 Years.

Anatomy of A Social Media Plan - 2022

Anatomy is the study of the structure or internal workings of something. This can apply to the human body, plants, or a subject such as “Machiavelli’s anatomy of the art of war.” Over the years the “anatomy” or structure of the strategic use of social media in marketing communications has changed.

When I first began integrating social media into marketing communications plans for clients it was still a novel side project. Most clients used experimental budgets to fund brand social media activity. We would present the traditional advertising, direct marketing, and PR as our main recommendations with some social media ideas.

When I began teaching social media marketing it was the first time, I created a strategic plan focused only on social media. I developed a strategic framework for that first course back in 2011. Social media has evolved, and the framework still applies, but the structure has grown

Anatomy of A Strategic Plan

Anatomy is about knowing the structure of something, and this can occur on several levels. The first level or structure of any strategic plan is goals, objectives, strategies, tactics, and KPIs or metrics.

Anatomy of A Strategic Plan

Goals are long-term changes you’d like to see while objectives turn those goals into measurable metrics within a specific time frame. Strategy is the approach you will use or the way you will meet the objectives. Tactics are what you will use to implement the strategic approach. Finally, KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) are metrics you use to measure the performance of individual tactics.

The most common mistake I have seen in strategic plans, in the past and today is confusing objectives with strategies, tactics, and KPIs. The objective of a social media strategic plan should not be “Improve brand social media,” “Open a brand TikTok account” or “Gain 1,000 social media followers.” No matter which organization or company you are working for your purpose in creating a social media plan is to help achieve larger goals and objectives.

Opening a TikTok account is not an objective. The objective is to increase sales, raise market share, attract investors, add volunteers, grow attendance, boost downloads, etc. Opening a brand TikTok account is one tactic, part of a bigger strategy that may help achieve these larger objectives. Social media is no longer experimental. Today companies spend 15% of their marketing budgets on social media and expect real results for that money.

A company may have a goal to grow the number of younger customers. Their objectives could be to increase sales to 16–24-year-olds by 20% this year. A strategy may include using social media to engage with younger consumers. One tactic to implement the strategy could be to open a brand TikTok account. A KPI of that tactic could be the number of followers.

Anatomy of A Social Media Plan (Circa 2012)

When I taught my first Social Media Marketing course in 2011, the tactics available to use in a Social Media Plan were limited compared to what we have today. Social media was growing and valuable but there were fewer tactics available to implement strategies.

Early strategies and tactics in social media focused on organic content. Paid was not a necessity and not as available or sophisticated as it is today. Growing brand communities delivered results. Many brand messages were “Follow us on Facebook” and they celebrated milestones such as reaching a million followers or fans. Before algorithm dominance, more fans meant real increases in reach and results for both KPIs and plan objectives.

Anatomy of A Social Media Plan - 2012

The basic tactics of social media included real-time brand social media conversation. This is the brand interacting with its brand community in real-time through social media monitoring. Scheduled brand organic social media content was also important. The brand creates its own content to post on its feed.

Social media plans also emphasized curated brand-related third-party social media content. Finding and sharing content created about the brand by media is still effective. Finally, consumer-generated brand social media content was an important component. Early strategies featured consumer contests like Lay’s Do Us A Flavor. These tactics emphasized owned, shared, and earned media.

According to Gini Dietrich’s PESO media model, Owned Media is brand-created content, Shared Media is consumer-generated content, Earned Media is content created by the news media, and Paid Media is advertising, both traditional and new media.

Anatomy of A Social Media Plan (Circa 2022)

Over the last decade, social media use by consumers and companies has grown. As a result, social media news feeds grew crowded, and platforms introduced algorithms to prioritize posts. For most platforms that meant emphasizing personal posts over company posts. Organic reach plummeted and a brand follower or fan was no longer as valuable. In response, paid media entered the mix and three new tactics have emerged.

Anatomy of A Social Media Plan - 2022

The first new tactic was paid social media brand content in the form of social media advertising. To reach followers, fans, and other social media users, brands could now pay to have their posts appear in people’s feeds. Brands were not happy at first but quickly saw the value in social media ads being highly targetable for efficient and effective ad buys. This was the first wave of new social media tactics under the category of paid media.

Influencers have always been part of social media. In the early days, we talked about the value of being a thought leader for company management. We also had brand evangelists, advocates, or brand ambassadors who voluntarily posted about their favorite products and services. Brands engaged these superfans with gratitude and sometimes rewards.

Then online influence reached a new level. Certain people became social media famous reaching numbers of fans brands used to celebrate that matched or surpassed the reach of media companies. Influencer Marketing emerged with brands paying to reach an audience through an influencer’s social media account.

Brands purchase posts and campaigns from mega-, macro-, micro-, and nano- influencers by buying ads through influencer marketing platforms. This was the second wave in social media plan tactics and the second form of paid media.

The latest tactic to emerge in social media plans is social commerce. Early forms of social media advertising paid to appear in feeds with non-commercial content. The social platforms had restrictions on not making the post too much like advertising. For example, brands had to get creative with posts such as saying “Link in bio” to get people to a website from Instagram.

Today social media platforms have added shoppable ads where users can buy a product or service without leaving the app. Social commerce is when e-commerce happens through the social network. Instagram Shoppable Ads was one of the first options.

Now Facebook Shops enables brands to create online storefronts on Facebook and Instagram. Other social media commerce options include Snapchat, TikTok, Pinterest, and Twitter. This is the beginning of the third wave of paid media social media tactics.

What changes have you seen in the last decade in your social media plans and strategies? For other ways, social media has changed see “What Has Changed And Not Changed In Social Media.”

Social Media Update: Top Social Media Channels By Category

Multichannel social media strategy: Social media is no longer a small experimental part of marketing. Social media spending represents 15% of marketing budgets and is expected to increase to nearly 25% in five years. Social media is also seen as an essential part of digital marketing which has surpassed traditional with digital ad spending reaching 54% of total ad sales. Today brands must go beyond the top three social platforms or simply continue to use current brand social platforms. As social media plans become more sophisticated with a combination of organic and paid content how do you decide among the over 200 social media platforms? To simplify this process the chart below lists social options in eight categories by key characteristics and top platforms per category.

Audience Size and Engagement: Total audience size is important when selecting a social media platform within which to invest your time and money. Yet tradition measures of monthly active users or unique monthly visitors only tell part of the story. A user could visit a platform once a month and be included in audience size. Engagement is another important factor that looks at how active those users are on the platform. How many users are daily users and how much time are they spending per day or session?

Target Audience Demographics: How active is your target audience on each platform? Define  target audience by demographic characteristics such as gender, education, income, ethnicity and age. Look for social media platforms popular with your target age group. Be sure to look at both monthly active and daily active users by age. A high percent of Millennials may be monthly users of Facebook but if you look at daily usage they may be spending more time on Instagram. If your target is Gen Y, Snapchat may have the highest daily usage.

Target Audience Psychographics: Not all people in a generation have the same interests, therefore it is also important to define target audience with psychographic variables such as, values, beliefs and interests. People interested in crafts, fashion, the environment, or gaming may be active on other social media platforms where those interests are popular such as Reddit, Pinterest, Forums or Twitch.

Target Business Category: Not all purchase decisions are considered in the same social media channels. Therefore also consider type of business. Is the brand B2C or B2B? What industry is it in? Is it a local or national company? Does the brand offer online sales, in-person or a combination of both? The type of business could make other social media channels more relevant to a plan such as LinkedIn, TripAdvisor or Yelp.

Target Communication Objective: Finally, consider the communications objective. A plan to build brand awareness may work best with Facebook, YouTube and Buzzfeed. A plan to improve customer response may work better in Twitter and Messenger for customer support and Google My Business for customer reviews. A B2B lead generation plan may best leverage Blogs, Podcasts, LinkedIn and Slack. A direct sales plan for a multinational fashion brand could work best with Instagram, Pinterest, WhatsApp and WeChat.

Now that you know what to consider in selecting plans. What are the latest social media channels? Bellow is a list of the top three or more social media channels divided into eight key characteristic categories.

Social Networks: These are the websites and apps that connect people sharing personal or professional interests through profiles, groups, posts and updates. Facebook has 2.7 billion monthly users (1.8 billion active daily) and is by far the largest social media channel of any of the categories. LinkedIn is the dominate business/professional social network growing to 722 million users (260 million active monthly).

Social Messaging: Instant messaging platforms are chat applications created around social networks for communication on mobile phones with less limits and more features than traditional texting. Facebook Messenger has grown to 1.3 billion users but is still behind Facebook owned WhatsApp with 2 billion users (1 billion active daily). Other popular messaging apps include WeChat with 1 billion month active users mostly  in the Chinese market. Slack is the business messaging service with 12.5 million daily active users providing opportunities for B2B.

Blogs and Forums: Blogs are websites that contain posts or articles in reverse chronological order that include hyperlinks and usually allow commenting. Forums are online discussion sites where people hold conversations via threads around common interests and topics. WordPress is the top blogging platform with 409 million users viewing over 20 billion blog pages a month. Tumblr (owned by Yahoo) is the short-form blog focused more on photos and video and less text with 463 million blog accounts but usage has dropped to 327 monthly visitors from a previous high of 642 million. Blogger is a simpler platform with less customize options and is owned by Google. Recent stats estimate 60 million monthly visitors to blogger.com down from 167 million in 2017. To find forums try search and directories like ProBoards.

Microblogging: Microblogs are a form of traditional blogging where the posts are limited by content length or file size. The leader in Microblogging continues to be Twitter with 353 million monthly active users (187 million active daily), but this is down 9 million from last year. Pinterest is the social pin board dedicated to visual discovery, collection and sharing that limits posts to single images or video. Pinterest has grown to over 442 million monthly active users. TikTok has grown quickly to 689 million monthly active users. A new entrant in this category is the invite only, real-time, audio-chat app Clubhouse. Clubhouse has grown from 1,500 users in May 2020 to 10 million users in 2021.

Media Sharing: This category is for social media channels developed mainly for the sharing of image or video media. YouTube is the lead video sharing site with 2 billion monthly active users and an average 60 minutes spent per mobile viewing session. Instagram (owned by Facebook) is the quality photo sharing social channel that has grown to 1 billion active monthly users with 500 million active daily. Snapchat is a photo- and video-sharing messaging service in which media and messages are only available for a short time before disappearing. Snapchat’s monthly active users total 283 million with 180 million active daily.

Live Streaming Video: Top live video channels are mainly built into other social platforms.  Periscope is integrated with the Twitter app with last reported numbers of 10 million users and 1.9 million daily active users. Facebook Live is a big competitor with Facebook emphasizing live video in the newsfeed. Facebook claims 8 billion video views per day or 100 million hours (includes all video). Instagram Live works in Instagram Stories which has 500 million daily active users. Instagram launched a new long form video platform IGTV, but reports indicate they have struggle to boost user numbers. For niche audiences Amazon owned Twitch is a live streaming platform attracting gamers with 140 million unique monthly users and 30 million active daily.

Geosocial: Geosocial is a type of social networking where user-submitted (GPS) location data connects users with local people, businesses and events. The innovator in this category is Foursquare, but the platform has dropped to 7 million monthly users for location discovery while its app Swarm has only 2.1 million monthly users for checking-in. However, Swarm users spend an average of ten times longer on the app versus Foursquare. Marketers can leverage Google geosocial features though Google My Business that adds businesses to Google location search and Google Maps and includes ratings and reviews. Facebook Check-Ins are the geosocial feature in Facebook that is good for increasing reach, generating awareness and has ratings and review features. Instagram Location has locations that integrates with Facebook Places. Snapchat offers geosocial features with Snapchat Geofilters.

Ratings and Reviews: Reviews are reports that give someone’s opinion about the quality of a product, service or performance. Ratings are a measurement of how good or bad something is expressed on a scale. Yelp is the innovator in crowdsourced ratings and reviews representing a broad range of interests. Yelp has 132 million active monthly users and over 184 million reviews. For travel related businesses TripAdvisor has 463 million active monthly users and 730 million reviews. This social channel provides reviews of travel-related content and travel forums. Amazon attracts 138 million monthly visitors and has been reported as being the largest single source of Internet consumer reviews. Angi is a ratings and review site with crowdsourced reviews of local businesses is merger between Angie’s List and HomeAdvisor than 22 million monthly users. Ratings and reviews should also be tracked on Google My Business. If you are in the human resources or the recruitment industry, company reviews on Glassdoor are important. Ratings and Reviews are also important on the video sharing platform YouTube as many a Vlogger reviews products and services on their channels.

Social Bookmarking: Social bookmarking sites are online services that allow users to save, comment on, and share bookmarks of web documents or links. Social bookmarking sites have also expanded into content discovery and curation tools. Reddit is one of the top social bookmarking social platforms with 430 million users. Digg is the social news site that aggregates publisher’s streams via peer evaluation of voting up content for sharing. Digg has reached 7 million visitors a month up from a low of 3 million several years ago. Buzzfeed is a content discovery platform with a monthly audience of 125 million on it’s website, but Buzzfeed also creates its own content with popular channels on Facebook, Snapchat, and YouTube and offers native advertising opportunities for brands generating 3.2 billion cross-platform content views a month.

Social Knowledge: Social knowledge channels are web-based information exchanges where users search topics or ask questions and get answers from real people. This includes social sites such as wikis and question and answer websites. Wikipedia is the big one with 1.7 billion unique monthly visitors and over 71,000 active contributors to over 6.2 million articles in English. Brands cannot created their own pages, but should monitor for misinformation. Quora is the question and answer site that focuses on higher quality content and attracts 300 million unique visitors a month. Yahoo! Answers was a popular community question and answer site but shut down in 2021 after 16 years.

Podcasts: Podcasts are a series of episodes of digital audio or video content delivered automatically through subscription. Podcast consumption has grown in the US to 90 million monthly listeners. iTunes is the innovator in Podcasting . Other social platforms to consider are SoundCloud, TuneIn, iHeartRadio, Audible and Spotify. For the video version of podcasts, called a vlog, YouTube is a top destination. A useful podcast directory is PodBean.

This is by far, not a comprehensive list of social channel options, but it does give an update on the top channels by category to choose the best for your social strategy. What social platforms have you found to be the most effective in your social media strategy? A good first step is to Perform A Social Media Audit and as social spending increases Ask These Questions To Ensure You Have The Right Strategy.

Segment Your Target Audience For More Effective Digital And Social Media Marketing.

How to segment your social media and digital media target audiences

A recent Adobe survey of business leaders indicates “better use of data for more effective audience segmentation and targeting” as a top priority for marketing. What is it and how do you do it?

Qualtrics defines market segmentation as “the practice of dividing your market into approachable groups … subsets of a market based on demographics, needs, priorities, common interests, and other psychographic or behavioral criteria used to better understand the target audience.”

Segmentation provides real benefits as 81% of executives say it is crucial to growing their profits. Segmentation can increase response rates and lower acquisition costs with:

  • More specific messages that resonate with customer’s wants and needs.
  • More personal messages that help brands stand out from the competition.
  • More targeted advertising to those most likely to convert to customers.

Once a business defines their target market or the specific group of people they will focus their products and services on they establish various target audiences to focus their marketing messages. There are further benefits in segmenting the target audience.

How do you segment your audience?

Consider an amusement park promoting tickets sales for the upcoming season. Their core target market is most likely adults 25-45 will children living at home. They would be the group most likely to plan and purchase tickets for immediate and extended family trips to the park.

Segment your audience into groups to score better results with each message you send.

 

First determine your general message.

Most businesses need to create general awareness before consideration by customers. Brand ads do this well.

An amusement park builds overall brand awareness through traditional TV, radio, print and billboard ads. These ads have a general theme showing kids, adults, grandparents and teens having fun at the park. This would appeal to their core target audience of adults with children planning family trips and looking to make sure the park has something for everyone.

Mass media must have broad appeal in messaging and imagery. In digital and social media there is opportunity to customize messages, imagery and offers.

Brainstorm audience segments.

Based on your knowledge of the target audience consider possible differences in wants and needs within the group. The amusement park may want to look at stage of life and location.

People in different stages of life may want different experiences at the park:

  • Adults with young children (age 25-34)
  • Adults with pre-teens/tweens (age 35-45)
  • High school/college students (age 13-24)
  • Grandparents (age 55+)

People who live different distances from the park may plan different types of trips:

  • Multi-visit locals (Within 40 miles)
  • Day trippers (40 to 100 miles)
  • Over nighters (Over 100 miles)

Consider content for each segment.

Now see if your segments make a difference in content. Determine how the messages, imagery and offers could differ for each of the segment’s needs.

Parents with young children would probably respond to content focused on smaller rides. Parents with elementary and middle school kids would look for more exciting attractions. High school and college students hang out with friends and take on the big roller coasters. Grandparents want see their grandchildren on rides while being able to sit and rest enjoying shows and restaurants.

With the geographic segments messaging and offers could get more focused. People within 40 miles would be most interested in season passes whether talking to families, teens or grandparents. People 40 to 100 miles away are most likely interested in day trips. Those over 100 miles away may want to know about other area attractions and park plus hotel packages for a multi-day trip.

Plan out content combinations.

Now plan out a content segment grid. Link various segments together to determine how many content variations you need.

Based on the amusement park brainstorming we have identified 12 market segments (4 X 3 = 12). Four are based on age and family demographics and three are based geographic variables. In a social media or display advertising campaign each of these 12 segments could be targeted with a unique message, image and promotional offer.

How to segment your social media and digital media target audiences
Link audience segments together to determine possible content variations.

Consider your CRM data.

Most companies have customer relationship management (CRM) databases that could add another layer of segmentation. Look at that data for meaningful segments. This could help you rule out segments or find additional ones.

The amusement park could use their CRM to discover that the market for grandparents purchasing tickets is fairly small and decide not to target them. Their adult children tend to plan and purchase tickets for trips where the parents, younger children and grandparents come together. The data reveals parents purchase tickets for the high school and college students yet they often go to the park with friends. Thus, that audience may still be a worthwhile target as they influence the decision.

From these narrowed down segments the amusement park could send emails out to past customers with the segmented communications we’ve identified. Then from their email data they could create a remarketing campaign through custom audiences in social media and display advertising.

Unique remarketing messages could target email subscribers who:

  • Did not open the email
  • Opened the email but did not click
  • Clicked to the website but didn’t purchase

From the CRM database they also know how often people visit per year. They could target previous season ticket holders and people who visited three times on individual tickets with different season ticket messages.

They also know who has gone to concerts at the park amphitheater. They could target people who have been to concerts but not to the amusement park with a concert and park ticket package message, image and offer.

Additional possible segments from CRM data:

  • Previous season ticket holders
  • People who purchased 3 individual trips
  • People who purchased concert tickets

Look at your customer journey.

In any business their is a unique customer journey where customers move through various pre-purchase, purchase and post-purchase stages. People in these different stages tend to seek different information.

Consider additional segments to target people in each of these stages with different content. This could include brand awareness, product, sales promotion, customer service, loyalty and advocacy messages.

When creating online social, video and display ads services such as YouTube and Google Advertising allow intent targeting for more relevant messages. Tara Walpert-Levy of Brand Solutions at Google explains it this way:

Let’s take the example of someone interested in buying a winter coat. To date, if you wanted to target video ads for winter coats, you could guess a demographic that might be more likely to buy winter coats (say, women 18 to 34) or use psychographics to target people who might be particularly into preparing for winter (say, ski enthusiasts). Intent signals eliminate that guesswork. You can serve ads to people who searched for winter coat deals, spent a lot of time scouting nearby ski resorts, or scrolled through coats in a shopping app.

Mobile campaigns that used intent-based targeting were found to have 20% higher ad recall and 50% higher brand awareness lift versus demographic targeting alone.

Create your content for each segment.

Once you have your audience segments you are ready to create your unique content. As seen in the chart above some will require only one customization while other contact may require customizing message, image and offer. Cristina Caligiuri and Ben Jones of Google’s Unskippable Labs have run experiments in testing how much you should customize in video ads. Across all forms of content be sure to follow best practices for content writing and design. Then run with it!

Measure results and optimize.

Going through this process you will most likely end up with many possibilities. Keep in mind that it is probably not worth segmenting messages to them all. Not every additional segment you create will produce significant improvements.

That is why you must measure results and optimize along the way. If the segment doesn’t increase conversions, stop using it and try something else. But the fact is segmentation works. A recent brand loyalty study found 75% of emails opened most frequently contain segmentation.

The amusement park may discover conversion on targeting multi-day trips to high school/college students over 100 miles away is too low. Instead they might try targeting adults 25-34 without kids for overnight park and concert trips.

How can you segment your target audience for improved results?