I want to be honest with you today; many of us doing social media marketing in this year are playing ‘bets’ with it and are not getting much out of the marketing channel except statistics!
But what are bets?
Like I was before I took digital marketing education and research seriously, a good number of social media executives today are doing at least one of the following and it is costing not only them but their employers and clients huge sums of money;
– Posting whatever they consider nice and hoping that someone might click ‘like’, take money from the bank and hand it to their employer/client.
– Amassing engagement through trend-jerking and general ‘slay-content’ with the hope that this will always directly translate into sales or at least make the employer/client.
– Running social media campaigns on purely PR-content and expecting leads and sales to grow.
Whereas all of the above are nice things to do, one thing is almost always certain; they don’t translate into sales, not most of the time.
Through several rounds of data analytics, client interviews, and continuous study, I have come to understand that the most important reason as to why a lot of social media marketing does not work is because of poor understanding of the target audiences, their interests, challenges, and values.
By nature, social media is a digital content marketing platform and doing content marketing means we are delivering content that is of value to a specific (target) audience with the aim of producing profitable customer action.
PS; funny videos and other kinds of entertaining content types can still work perfectly as part of a content marketing strategy.
But if we do not even know who they are, how can we know what kind of content might be of value to them? No way? Guesswork? Gambling?
After a couple of not-so-good results back in the day, I and the team at dreamstar digital came up with a framework for identifying ideal target audiences online and today I thought I should share with you.
1. By asking questions
The first thing we do with any new account is interview 10-15 of the client’s existing or former customers/users.
Apart from seeking to know their experience with our client’s product or service, we attempt to get to understand their occupation, favorite digital communications channels, marital status, financial muscle, wishes, desires and challenges in relation to the solution our client offers.
This kind of information helps us know what kind of messages we got push out in order to get the attention of the right people; the ones most likely to convert into customers.
2. By analyzing historical data
Next up is reading through both explicit and implicit data from existing customers.
Entities like banks collect a lot of data from their customers during registration and through the time the customers bank with them.
This usually ranges from age, occupation, marital status, residence and sometimes monthly income as well.
In addition, through the use of other banking channels like the mobile banking app, the bank is able to understand with precision their customers and by extension their most likely prospects’ affinity for technology.
For the banking sector, in particular, we find that some products appeal more to tech-savvy audiences than the others.
However, instead of going by assumptions, using real data to match products to target audiences always yields much higher results, even when you have just 30 days ‘to prove yourself’.
This kind of analysis saves us the hustle of guessing audience interests and wasting time and money ona kind of social media content marketing that doesn’t add value to the business and might even annoy potential customers.
3. Using content
Earlier this year we were charged with managing a tourism account (Apartments Leonia) for one month.
The task involved creating a website and optimizing social media and e-listings (TripAdvisor, AirBnB, Booking.com, HomeAway, and others) for the property.
The property was new so we had no way of getting real customer insights (by way of interviews), explicit or implicit data analysis.
Using insights from previous accounts we started optimizing the channels, designing a launch-pad website and blog.
At the same time, we were curating and sharing on social media, third-party content on topics we thought (assumed) ideal customers might like. Our goal of doing this was to find validation for our assumptions.
As a result, within 2 weeks we launched a business-ready website and blog and the first booking of $700 (seven hundred US Dollars) was realized within the same week of the launch.
4. Using data from similar brands (competitors)
Now, this is not one of my favorites but I have seen it work.
At some point, we realized that most leads for our financial services client were coming from a specific competitor with complaints and bad reviews about that particular competitor.
What we did was, visit the competitor’s public profiles, read through user complaints (read; reviews and comments) and made a secret report.
That report was the arsenal we used to launch an indirect campaign targeting the competitor’ customers because, well, we knew what their key challenges (with our competitor) were.
Insights from the competition are often so powerful and can save you tonnes of money and time. Remember Africell’s ‘Don’t be Cheated Wednesdays’ vs ‘MTN Gaga Bundles’? You know what I mean.
5. Creating look-alike audiences
I am tempted to say that this one is for beginners. Well, it isn’t entirely for beginners anyway.
If you have a well engaged social media audience (that also convert into buyers) but it is small, you can use free tools provided by advertising platforms like the Facebook business manager to target other people the system understands have similar interests with those who already follow or previously engaged with your brand/business online.
This is like a short-cut to research and I have often seen it deliver fairly well.
However, if your existing audiences (including non-subscribed audiences; people who engaged but are not following the pages) did not translate into leads or buyers, it is likely that look-alike audiences of the same won’t translate into leads or customers.
The earliest followers of dreamstar digital on Facebook were youngsters who wanted to master ‘Facebook marketing’, but we somehow did not pay attention to that.
About a year into the business we created look-alike audiences and targeted them with website design offers. The results were as you would expect – nothing but crappy.
My experience with social media marketing is that once one has got a clear picture of their target audience; certain of their demographics, values, needs, and desires, reaching them with the right content and engaging them becomes like a religious dating experience.
You can’t run out of valuable content, and you won’t always need a much money to make them smile.
About Stephen Obeli Someday
I am a user experience designer, front-end web developer, inbound marketing scientist, salesman and digital marketing trainer with considerable experience in tourism and travel marketing.
In 2016 I co-founded dreamstar digital, the first inbound digital marketing and sales agency in Uganda.