How Well Do You Know Your Social Media Audience?

The first part of developing an overall social media strategy is understanding who your audience is and what they are doing. Seems simple, right? But this is the number one mistake so many companies make. Instead of understanding where their audience is, they focus on the latest and greatest social media platform. But what if your audience isn’t on that platform yet?

Marketers take the time to develop customer profiles and use that to drive their spend of marketing budgets, but do not use the same information to determine the right social media strategy. Just like any other marketing campaign, you have to do your research first. So, where to start? Best thing to do is to gather your customer profile/demographics and use the Groundswell Profile Tool (see below). The tool uses the most recent data from Forrester’s surveys to help understand where your target demographic lies within six groups:

  • Creators-Very socially active people who create content, including blogs, wikis, videos and the like. They are happy to share their experience and opinions about their passions, hobbies, love of a product or brand. They don’t just join the conversation, they create it.
  • Critics-Do not assume critics in only a negative context. Critics share their opinion, both good and bad, typically writing reviews and responding to forums. They also use micro-blogging platforms like Twitter frequently.
  • Collectors-It isn’t just about collecting, but sharing as well. Collectors are great at finding items and sharing them on social bookmarking sites. They are most active on Delicious, Digg and StumpleUpon. While it seems they aren’t very important since they are just sharing, they are quite savvy and tend to share only valuable information and can be seen as a power user or authority.
  • Joiners-Many creators start as joiners, sharing their experience, interacting on social media sites like Facebook, MySpace or LinkedIn or even message boards. They want to connect with people that have their same interest, views or passions.
  • Spectators-Rather than taking an active role, spectators love to people watch. They read a lot of blogs, and generally use a feed reader. They will use micro-blogging platforms like Twitter to keep updated on news, sports, and any other passions. They want to hear others opinions on a product or a brand, and those opinions influence their decision making.
  • Inactives-no surprises here, these are people that are on the Internet, but don’t participate in social media (yet!)

So, let’s play with the tool a bit. If your demographic is US women, 55+, your audience is mostly spectators. Chances are you won’t see much in conversation from them initially, but have faith that they are out there, reading, watching, and making decisions even if not responding to you directly. Very few are creators, but will voice their opinion (critics) if need be. But also marketers need to watch this segment, as it has a high inactive rate.

But, if we change the demographic to US males, 18-24, there are very few inactives with a strong mix of Joiners and Spectators as well. You’ll see a similar trend among females in the same age group. They are not only watching, contributing to the conversion, they are big creators. It isn’t about just reaching them on the “usual” social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter, MySpace) it is continuing the conversation on their individual blogs or forums.

It is an easy mistake to make. You want to use the latest and greatest technology to communicate about your company or brand. Before you waste your time, make sure your audience is there.

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