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How to identify your target audience in new media

Social media is everywhere these days, but just because it’s all over, doesn’t make it all that easy. Quality content is more important than ever, and the key to good social content is knowing your target audience. 

In this article, we’re going to get in the weeds and go through how your brand can find, identify, and successfully reach your target audience. You’ll be getting followers in no time! 

Read more about the impact of new media here.

What is a target audience?

“Target audience” is a marketing term used to describe who you’re hoping to reach. The group of consumers your product or service is designed for. Your target audience could be based on demographics, like age, gender, race, sexuality, income level, education, religion, or location. 

Your target market could also be interest or behavior-based, like “goes on hikes”, or “loves romance novels”. In fact, this type of target audience can often be more accurate, since demographics rely to some extent on assumed prior knowledge about how those demographics will act, while an interest or behavior is based on the action itself.

Either way, you’ll end up with a subsection of people that you believe your product, service, or content appeals to the most. 

How to Find Your Target Audience on Social Media

Finding and putting your target social media audience to work can be a challenge in itself - especially if you haven’t given it much thought before! Here are some simple strategies and tools you can use to get started. 

Define your target audience and compare that to your existing customers and social audience

The first thing you need to do is outline who your target audience actually is. Likely, your business has already established who your product or service appeals to. If not, you can help define your audience by asking a few questions like: “What pain point is my product/service trying to solve?”, and “Who did we have in mind when we designed our product/service?”

Once you have that down, check out your current customers. For online-based companies, or companies with a strong web presence, use an analytics tracker like Google Analytics to see what demographics are visiting your site. For brick and mortar companies, do some first hand research, by visiting the store, and examining sales data. 

Then go to your social channels. Using their own analytics platforms, or an aggregate platform like Sprout Social, to see who is visiting your social media accounts. See where your target audience overlaps with existing customers and social audiences. 

Where is your target audience most active and is there a new platform that needs to be invested in?

Your target audience might not be on the same platforms as your brand. A lot of brands have Facebook pages, but that might not make sense if your target audience is made up of 18-20 year olds. You might have a TikTok, but similarly, that wouldn’t be the place to reach 50-55 year olds. 

But make sure to get the actual data! A marketing and business data platform, like Statista, can get you the actual numbers for different platforms among different groups of people. It might be even easier than that. A simple Google search turns up: 

“Research published in April by the Pew Research Center shows that 48% of U.S. adults between 18-29-years-old use TikTok. The figure drops to 20% in the 30-49-year-old age group, 14% among 50-64-year-olds, and 4% for those 65 and up.”

You could also explore a tool like Sparktoro, that takes something your audience is already interested in, like “Beyonce”, and populates a list of what your audience is likely to be reading, watching, listening, and following, along with the platforms they’re likely to use. 

Find out what people are saying about your brand.

Once you have your audience outlined, you want to know what they, and other people, are saying about your brand. The first step here is to Google your brand. What comes up? What doesn’t come up? Then Google your key leadership members, spokespeople, or influencers. What comes up for them? 

Next, try doing a site search of popular social platforms, like Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr, or Reddit. Simply type “site:www.facebook.com [your brand name]” into Google, and you’ll search Facebook for any mention of your brand. 

If you want to get a little fancier, or simply sift through all the information out there faster, you might want to try a social listening tool. A platform like Awario can track your brand mentions across social media and the web. A tool like Repulsate can use AI technology to measure sentiment across social platforms. 

What is your competition doing?

Now you’ve dug into how people are viewing your brand, see how your competitors are doing. Who is their apparent target audience? What platforms are they using? What does social listening turn up about their brand? Is the sentiment towards them more or less favorable? 

Once you’ve done some research, you can adjust your own social audience and strategy based on what you find. If your competition is all over Instagram but you aren’t, you might decide that you’re missing out on a large audience on that platform. Or, you might see that they only have a few followers and little engagement, and decide that Instagram really isn’t worth it. 

Then check what type of content are they posting. Videos? User generated content? Are they partnering with influencers? Learn from their successes! If their videos are doing well, start making some. If their influencer is generating a lot of likes, go find your own influencer. See how your social feeds compare, and then react accordingly. 

Test your content on social media to see what your target market is actually engaging with

Once you’ve identified your target audience, and done all the background research, it’s time to start testing content. There are a few ways to test social media content. You can test out different types of content, test out the social copy, or test post timing. You can try running an A/B test, where you try two types of content, and see which performs better, or a larger multivariate test. 

Use a social media analytics tool, like the above-mentioned Sprout Social, or native platform analytics to see which posts are gaining the most engagement. 

Reach your peeps

A target audience is key to a successful social media campaign. Define that audience, find it, learn what they like and where they hang out on the web. With that information, you have the tools to create awesome content that appeals to your people. 
If you need a hand creating quality content that inspires your social audience, check out Cohley. We partner with brands to shape their content strategy across platforms, no matter what your goals and needs. We generate content ideas, find ways to expand, and build content partnerships.