Are You My Audience? 6 Misconceptions About Target Audiences in Social Media and Digital Marketing Strategy.

A narrowly focused message stands out and reaches and motivates an audience. General messages addressing everyone get lost in the crowd. As a communication professional or student, you need to know the target audience for any strategy or plan.

How to determine target audience.

Usually, clients do provide a target audience defined by the various bases of segmentation shown above. Yet it is not always the right target. Oftentimes business people are good at their business but are not the best marketers. Even top marketers at Fortune 500s can get it wrong. If you don’t start with the right target your strategy will not be successful and not meet the objectives the client is hiring you to help deliver.

Remember that clients are hiring you or you are getting a new project from a boss because current efforts are not working. There is a problem to be solved. Sometimes it’s an SEO problem, sometimes a social media content problem, but it can also be a target audience problem. How do you know you have the right target?

  1. Don’t assume your target is your social media followers. A client for the social media agency BSquared defined their target audience as 18-24 year-olds. They had the most followers from this age group. Yet BSquared took the time to look at additional social listening data beyond the brand pages and social media and digital advertising data. They found that the next two older age groups actually accounted for 90% of sales compared to just 10% of sales coming from the younger group.
  2. Don’t assume everyone that could use the product is your target. Gatorade learned this shifting to a mass-market target of hydration for everyone 18-49 and sales declined 10%. The core athlete got the message – Gatorade was no longer for them. Further research revealed high school and endurance athletes made up just 22% of customers but accounted for 46% of all sales. Only when they focused back on these two niche audiences with fewer mass ads and more target digital ads did sales return.
  3. Don’t assume the people who use the product are your target. Proctor & Gamble’s brand Old Spice sales were declining. Additional consumer research revealed that women purchase 60% of all men’s body washes. For the first time, the brand targeted women as the audience for its men’s brand. Within a year, sales grew 125% surpassing competitors to become the #1 brand in the category.
  4. Don’t assume your target audience is current customers. When sales level off or decline marketers need to reach a new group of people that is not their current users. The market for two-door coupe cars has been declining for years. The Ford Mustang Mach-E all-electric SUV is designed to reach a new audience. Targeting current Mustang drivers would not be effective as the car was designed to gain EV market share from Tesla. In the first year of sales, 70% of Mach-E buyers were new to the Ford brand.
  5. Don’t assume there is only one target audience. There may be multiple target audiences that influence a purchase decision. Colleges know that parents influence high school students’ college decisions. Therefore, enrollment strategies often include a primary target audience of high school students with a secondary target audience of parents of high school-age children. Messages and channels must be targeted for both.
  6. Don’t assume the target is consumers of the product. Other audiences can be selected for corporate communication and public relations to manage company reputation with employees, investors, suppliers, regulators and the media. With the Crock-Pot ‘This Is Us’ crisis an episode of the popular show killed the main character in a fire from the brand’s faulty product. The PR agency responded quickly with a message to multiple stakeholders assuring the public that Crock-Pots were safe.

Also, note that business to business (B2B) target audiences are usually segmented with different variables called firmographics based on company size, industry, geographic market, and business needs. A B2B target audience can include people with certain job titles, and members of professional organizations.

If you are a marketer at a business or marketing communications professional working for the business, it is always good practice to verify that the target audience is really who you think. You need the right target audience to meet the business objectives. How do you know you are addressing the right business objectives? Perform a Root Cause Analysis.

 

 

 

 

 

How To Avoid A Social Media Brand Identity Crisis (Social Brand ID Template)

Many organizations have brand identity guidelines for designers, art directors and writers in traditional media. Yet social media professionals operate in a less static more personal medium. They need an extension of these standards that recognizes the more personal, conversational, social aspect of marketing in social media. In this new medium brands are acting like and interacting with people. Because of this I have created a model for social media brand identity with elements drawn from the concept of personal identify in psychology and social identity theory. You can use the template below to develop your Brand Social ID that will help to guide the visual and written brand narrative told through brand social media channels.

SocialMediaBrandIdentityTemplate In psychology, Identity (ID) is the qualities, beliefs, personality, looks and expressions that make a person or group. In this case, your Brand is acting as a person so you first want to assign it a Personal Identity made up of these elements. Then identify the qualities, beliefs, personality, looks and expressions that make up your Buyer’s Identity (ID). Obviously, these should be compatible. They don’t have to be an exact match, but there should be enough connections to form an attraction like in a real personal relationship – the social aspect. Psychologists describe personal identity as the things that make a person unique while, sociologists describe social identity as the collection of group memberships that help define the individual. Brands that become communities can become one of the memberships that help define their audience or buyers.

When social media strategist and content marketing creators understand these two Personal IDs they can form a bond through consistent visual and written story told in the social media channels where their buyers are active. Psychologists believe stories are fundamental to social interaction so these meeting places and exchanges will begin to form connections. Micro connections through the narratives customized to each social channel overtime establishes a group Social Identity built around brand community. When you connect and co-develop stories with your buyers in this way the Group Social ID can build strong brand loyalty. Perhaps this connection could grow to become “loyalty beyond reason” as Kevin Roberts of Saatchi & Saatchi calls brands that are Lovemarks. It seems that we keep rediscovering and have to remind ourselves of the power of stories in a business context.

This Brand Social ID model follows a three-step process explained in social identity theory (illustrated at the bottom of the template). Social Identity is a person’s sense of who they are based on their group memberships. The groups people belong to are an important source of pride and self-esteem giving them a feeling of belonging. To increase self-image people are motivated to enhance the status of the group. To do this they Categorize groups, Identify with one and then Compare and favor that group over others in the same category. This can happen in many ways including abilities (artistic versus scientific), design preference (contemporary versus country), team loyalty (Eagles versus Cowboys), and brands (Apple versus Microsoft).

A Brand’s Social ID should be informed by the organization’s vision, mission and goals to make up the personal identity of the brand. What are the distinctive characteristics or attributes of the brand? These make up a brand’s Qualities. What are the opinions or convictions of the organization that instill confidence, faith and trust in employees, investors and customers? These are brand Beliefs. What organized pattern of behavior would best convey the character of the brand? This is brand Personality. Are there important visual elements of the brand such as colors, logos, fonts, image style? These are visual components that make up brand Look. How would you describe brand voice or manner and form of words and phrases in written communication? This is brand Expression. Finally, capture main offerings as explicit proposals to specified people. These are brand Offers.

The Buyer Social ID is similar, yet from a slightly different perspective. This is informed by the target audience’s personal vision, values, mission and goals in a business to consumer context (B2C) or informed by their organization’s vision, values, mission and goals in a business to business context (B2B). Describe the distinctive characteristics and attributes of the person (Qualities), the things they feel are good, right or valuable (Beliefs), signs of their character or patterns of behavior (Personality), favored qualities in style and appearance (Look), and preferred manner or form of communication (Expression). Capture the clear requirements that are necessary or very important to this buyer (Needs). Often needs come out of complications, obstacles or pain points that cause tension. Building your brand narrative around these and positioning your products and services as a solution to release that tension can be very powerful. I suggest following a Five Act formula that my colleague and I have found to be effective in Super Bowl Ads and Viral Marketing Videos. If you have a completed a buyer persona this could be helpful in completing the Buyer Social ID.

Does your Brand Social ID match your Buyer Social ID? If these are significantly off in key areas you many have to adjust the personality elements of the brand. Or perhaps you need to realign your target market to buyer’s who have more elements in common with the brand. As brand social media strategist and content creators follow this Social Media Brand ID they will help the consumer move through the three-step socialization process. The brand narrative in social media will lead potential customers into Categorizing the brand personality and offering, Identify as belonging to the brand community, and as a member of that social group start to compare the brand favorably over competitors. Having a Brand Social ID will help to guide all social media content creation and buyer engagements setting a standard of authentic brand communication. It should serve as guardrails in keeping social talk “on brand” and out of social media identity crisis.

Have you thought about brand social media identities or translating your current brand identify guidelines into brand social media standards? Do you find this template helpful? How else could brands approach this?Strategy: Marketing and Advertising in the Consumer Revolution.

To consider the bigger picture in social media marketing Ask These Questions To Ensure You Have The Right Strategy.