When we think about social media, we usually think about reaching our target customers. After all, isn’t the goal to get sales from those customers? Sure, but sometimes the best method is to reach those customers indirectly through social media.
Who can you actually reach through social media?
Sometimes, your social audience isn’t your target customer because your target customer isn’t social. Or perhaps not in large numbers or not where they are easily reachable. In that case, you might target your secondary customers, or you might try to reach people who are in touch with your target customers and who are likely to spread the word.
For example, let’s say your target customer is plumbers and it turns out that plumbers aren’t very accessible through the popular social networks and aren’t big blog readers, either. However, plumbers are customers of hardware distributors and they frequently work for builders. Those audiences may be more accessible online. In that case, your best use of social media might be to build social connections with the builders or distributors, in a way that makes them want to promote you to their plumbers.
Who is your best advocate?
Maybe you can reach your target customers online, but they aren’t the best audience for your purposes. For example, let’s say that you’re selling a medical product to patients with chronic arthritis. Sure, you can use social media to reach the patients. You could even create a community for those with arthritis, where they can talk about the challenges, coping strategies, etc.
Your better bet might be to connect socially with doctors, though. There’s a reason that pharmaceutical companies sell to doctors and continue doing it even though they can advertise to patients now. If your best chance of selling to your target customers is to get specific people in their sphere to recommend the product, then your social media efforts would be better spent directed at those people.
Similarly, if you’re selling a cologne and your target customers are young men, your best advocates might be young women. You could get more bang for your social media buck by building a strategy around engaging women so they encourage their boyfriends to try the cologne, or even buy it for their boyfriends.
Who is the most vocal?
Somewhere between 70% and 90% of web users are look-i-loos, watching but not commenting, interacting, or even sharing. If you’re trying to spread the word, you don’t want the look-i-loos. You want the people who are active and sharing. The people the lurkers are watching.
If your goal is word-of-mouth, your social audience may be bloggers or just the vocal element of certain online groups They may not be likely to purchase, but they are likely to talk. In that case, you need to understand what they want and make sure your social content is desirable, so they will talk about you, positively.
Identify the right audience for your goal
I’ve said before that in social media, to get something you’ve got to give first. You have to make your social audience an offer they can’t refuse by creating a win-win situation. Before you can do that, you’ve got to know who your real social audience is–and consider audiences other than your target customers.
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