Leveraging Social Media to Find Your Audience

Social media presents a unique opportunity for advertisers. Not only do the various platforms provide additional channels for acquiring new customers and obtaining additional revenue from existing ones, but the often granular targeting options available make social media marketing ideal for discovering the unique niche that comprises your highest-converting audience. Here, we’ll lay out some best practices and things to keep in mind when leveraging social media to find your audience.

Choosing the Correct Network(s)

If social media is going to enable you to better locate your desired audience, it’s important that the networks you choose to advertise on are the ones most likely to contain that audience. Leverage what you already know about your current customers to identify the most promising channels. 

For businesses with an established online customer base, delve into your web analytics solution to identify key demographic information about customers that convert. Are they predominantly male or female? 18-25 or senior citizens? Located in a specific geo or scattered around the globe?

If your business is relatively new or you’re just breaking into digital advertising, consider any personas you’ve created of your ideal customer. For example, if you sell trendy women’s clothing, your ideal customer may be female, in her 20s or 30s living in a major metropolitan area. On the other hand, if your business is B2B, your buyer may work in the marketing department of a company with at least 500 employees, be equally as likely to be male or female, and in their 40s or 50s.

Once you have these basic demographics defined, consult publicly available data for how this maps to the various social media networks. For the United States, Pew Research Center puts out yearly demographic breakdowns of the major social media platforms. For most companies, Facebook is a good starting point due to its scale (two billion monthly users) and its variety of targeting options, but additional networks like Instagram, LinkedIn, or Snapchat might be key channels depending on your intended audience.

In addition, make sure to examine your key competitors’ social media presence. Which networks are they on? What is their messaging (both paid and organic) like? While you should focus on ways to differentiate your company (rather than simply copying what competitors do), competitive research can help ensure that you have all of your bases covered.

Start with Customer Match

Customer Match provides an easy entry point for new advertisers to break into Facebook and other platforms. To get started, export a list of your existing customers from your CRM that includes key identifying information like full name, email address, phone number, city, and state, etc. The more data fields you can provide, the more current customers the social media network will be able to identify. LTV data can also be incorporated to further refine targeting to only the most valuable customers. Apply this audience for campaigns designed to drive additional revenue and repeat purchases from those already familiar with your brand.

From there, you can leverage the same customer list to begin your acquisition efforts on social media by creating a lookalike audience. This approach will target users that Facebook has determined share common characteristics with the source audience, whether it be demographics, interests, behavior, etc. Given the similarity between the two groups, these users should have a higher propensity to convert.

Note that controls are available to control the degree of similarity between your source and lookalike audiences, and therefore the lookalike audience’s size and potential reach. While an extremely high degree of similarity may result in high ROI, it also means reaching fewer potential new customers and obtaining fewer insights for further audience creation. On the other hand, very loose constraints may mean quickly spending your budget without much to show for it. Aim for a middle ground (1 – 3% similarity in Facebook’s settings) or test out a tiered approach where you create several lookalike audiences of differing degrees of similarity and see how they perform.

You can further expand this retargeting plus lookalike strategy by creating additional custom audiences and lookalikes based on your website traffic or mobile app users. Note that these other customer audiences sources require placing a pixel on your website and providing information regarding your mobile application.

Look for Unique Targeting Options

Depending on your potential audience and social networks in scope, leveraging the unique targeting options available to each network can also help you to better find your audience on social media and beyond. For example, if you are a B2B company that exclusively serves Fortune 500 companies, using LinkedIn’s Account-Based Marketing targeting can be an effective choice. Alternatively, if you decide to try advertising on Twitter, given your potential audience’s demographic breakdown and competitors’ presence, try targeting hashtags relating to your offering. In short, make sure to use all of the tools at your disposal for additional audience discovery and potential revenue-driving opportunities.

Leverage Analytics for Insights and Further Audience Development

Once you are live with your initial set of audiences, leverage your web analytics platform and Facebook’s Audience Insights to more closely evaluate the types of users that are spending the most via social media and the type of messaging that best resonates with them. What are their demographics and interests? Where are they located? Which ad creative and messaging is delivering the best return? How do these users and ads differ from what you know about users converting from other channels?

Take these insights and use them to build out additional audiences, exclude segments that do not convert efficiently for more granular targeting, and refine ad messaging across both social media and other channels. For example, if you are targeting all of North America but Canadian users have a lower conversion rate (perhaps due to shipping cost), consider targeting the United States. Or, if you find that a particular ad creative performs well, consider testing it out for display retargeting. Take your learnings from social media and see where else they can apply.

Don’t Forget About Organic!

While most of this post has focused on paid social, I would be remiss not to emphasize the importance of maintaining a strong organic presence on the social media networks on which you advertise. Not only is your page/profile a potential destination for users who have seen an ad, it can also help drive free clicks and conversions. To help drive organic traffic in conjunction with your paid social strategy, make sure your brand aesthetic and messaging is consistent throughout and post a steady stream of compelling content (not just ad-worthy copy). 

In addition, look for Groups relating to your type of product or service and join to directly engage with your customers and consider reaching out to influencers who have a following with your target audience. These types of strategies will help you drive organic conversions while also obtaining further insights that can be used for paid social and other channels. For example, if you find that a post from an influencer leads to a high number of conversions, consider creating a target audience of people who like their fan page for a new ad campaign.

Social Media Marketing – Test and Refine

In summary, the variety of targeting options available via social media marketing make it an ideal laboratory to experiment and discover the audience that comprises your highest LTV customers. By taking an iterative, data-driven approach that slowly builds on your audience targets and A/B tests various ad sets and messaging, you can achieve a higher ROI on social media and leverage the insights gained about your users for cross-channel improvements.