Social media is all about sharing, right? Tastes, ideas, activities, facts, networks – we want ours to be known, and we want to know others’. This willing exchange of information means we have the richest of data sources right at our fingertips, 24 hours a day. Accompanying every 140 character tweet, for example, are 150 additional fields of metadata, and that’s before we’ve even checked who sent the tweet itself….

However, it’s a well-known issue that digital marketers sometimes struggle to demonstrate the value of social media to the budget-holders at their business. Efforts to find more leads from social media too often result in an endless cycle of rotating tactics – enlisting experts to speak from their platforms, hosting live chats, changing content, publishing more frequently or attempting to drum up interest around an event.

But this isn’t so much a nut for the cracking as an orange for the peeling: pull back the skin to reveal plenty of juicy segments.

Terrible metaphors aside, audience segmentation is an enormously effective and excruciatingly underused trick of the trade. OK, it’s hardly the new kid on the block but it’s true that social media strategists have begun only recently to follow the example set by the big dogs at pioneering marketing companies. Ironically, we’ve been using audience segmentation in basic business practices for years: sending mail shots, creating price models, tracking and understanding the behaviours of loyal customers, yet when it comes to social media, activity is still sparse.

Remember too that marketing on a shoestring often only leaves you with the organic targeting option (which allows you to tailor your content to specific audiences without paying to promote a post – it works well for Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+). But if you have a couple of gold coins in your budget, there are very smart ways to spend them to ensure you do reach the right customers at the right time with the right message.

Paid audience segmentation will put your business in front of social media fans who are already active users, and so are more likely to engage with your content, meaning your campaign or offer will work that little bit harder for you. It’ll mean greater reach, bigger audiences and meaningful conversions.

Paid campaigns also allow you to segment your audiences into targeted users, based on criteria that you select. It could be any of the following:

• Occupation or industry
• Location
• Age
• Interests, hobbies, likes and behaviours
• Friends and connections

That’s a huge range of demographics, user types and interest levels. These sorts of campaigns cleverly also allow you to see what content resonates with which personas, to jump on leads as soon as they arise and to measure the impact of your programmes.

Considering the potentially problematic fact that everyone these days is publishing their own content at a rate which far outstrips our ability to read, digest and understand that material, it’s then up to you to stand out in a noisy feed, and to hold your customers’ attention for long enough to show them that they’re interested in what you have to offer.

The key here is relevance, which is why it pays to pay. Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn can target audiences with the kind precision of which organic strategies can only dream. Plus, you have the power to prioritise your spending by examining your data and putting your money where the right mouths are.

But before you start slicing the budget in different ways, ask yourself:

• Which platforms send the most traffic to your website?
• Which have the highest conversion rates?
• How much did your original budget allocation achieve and where was it most concentrated?
• Can you identify high-performing posts or types of content that users found particularly engaging?
• Where are your competitors most active? Might you do better if you were to occupy a different space to them, even if it has a smaller membership?

Once you’ve got your head round the insight you’ve now presented to yourself, the final check is to make sure your website is fully optimised and therefore suitable for conversions from mobile social media users.

Then it’s all about changing it up. You want to give your strategies enough time and space to make a proper impact, but never rest on your laurels, keep your content, offers, messages and visual look and appeal fresh and as inviting as possible. After all, there’ll always be new stones to turn and emerging demographics to entertain. It’s just your place to make sure they see you first!

 

By Mark Byrne, paid media analyst at Found


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