How to Plot Your Social Media Marketing Strategy

Let your customers and prospects drive your selection of social media alternatives. To see the best return on your investment in social media, you need to try to use the same social media as they do. This principle is the same one you apply to all your other marketing and advertising efforts. Social media is a new tactic, not a new world.

Locating Your Target Market Online

Nothing is more important in marketing than identifying and understanding your target audience (or audiences). After you can describe your customers’ and prospects’ demographic characteristics, where they live, and what social media they use, you’re in a position to focus your social marketing efforts on those people most likely to buy your products or services

Because social media techniques focus on inexpensive ways to reach niche markets with specific messages, they’re tailor-made for a guerrilla-marketing approach. As with all guerrilla-marketing activities, target one market at a time.

Segmenting Your B2C Market

If you have a business-to-consumer (B2C) company, you can adapt the standard tools of market segmentation, which is a technique to define various niche audiences by where they live and how they spend their time and money. The most common types of segmentation are

  •  Demographics
  • Geographic location
  • Life-stage-based purchasing behavior
  • Psychographics or lifestyle
  • Affinity or interest groups

When you’re creating subgroups, keep these concepts in mind:

Simple demographics affect your market definition. The use of fragrances, descriptive terms, and even packaging may vary by gender. How many shampoo commercials for men talk about silky hair? For that matter, what’s the ratio of shampoo commercials addressed to women versus men?

Consider geography. Geography may not seem obvious, but people who live in dry climates may be more receptive to a message about moisturizers than people who live in humid climates. Or perhaps your production capacity constrains your initial product launch to a local or regional area.

Think about how purchasing behavior changes with life stages. For instance, people who dye their hair look for different hair care products than those who don’t, but the reason they color their hair affects your selling message. (Teenagers and young adults may dye their hair unusual colors in an effort to belong to a group of their peers; older men may hide the gray with Grecian Formula; women with kids might be interested in fashion, or color their hair as a pick-me-up.)

Even lifestyles (psychographics) affect decisions. People with limited resources who are unlikely to try new products may respond to messages about value and satisfaction guarantees; people with more resources or a higher status may be affected by messages related to social grouping and self-esteem.

Affinity or interest groups are an obvious segmentation parameter. People who participate in environmental organizations or who recycle goods may be more likely to be swayed by a green shampoo appeal or shop in specific online venues


Demographic segmentation, the most common type of market differentiation, covers such standard categories as gender, age, ethnicity, marital status, family size, household income, occupation, social class, and education

Geographic location

Geographic segmentation also makes sense if your business draws its primary target audience from within a certain distance from your brick-and-mortar storefront. For example, geographic segmentation makes sense for grocery stores, barbershops, gas stations, restaurants, movie theaters, and many other service providers, whether or not your social media service itself is location-based.

Many social media services offer a location search function to assess the number of users in your geographical target area:

Twitter users near a specified location ( ): To find users within 15 miles of a designated location, click the Add Location pin under Places. Your current location appears. Click the text box to view a list of several nearby communities, as well as a search field. For somewhere farther away, enter the name of the city in the search field and click the blue Search button at the bottom of the page. On the search results page that appears, you’ll see Who to Follow and Trends options in the left column. To alter the 15-mile default distance, change the mileage display in the grey search box at the very top of the results page.

LinkedIn users within a certain radius ( ): In the Location drop- down list in the left column, select Located In or Near. Additional options appear, including a Country drop-down list, a Postal Code text box, and a Within drop-down list, with choices of radius from 10 to 100 miles. After clicking Search, the number of results appears at the top left of the center column, above the list of names. You can filter further by the degree of connection, if you want.

Facebook users near a certain location ( ): The most accurate way to size a potential target audience geographically is to create a Facebook advertising account with a test ad, which you may choose not to launch. Log in as the admin for your page. Click the drop-down arrow in the right corner of the top navigation, and then click Create Ads. Follow the prompts to create an account and choose an objective for an ad. (For audience research, it doesn’t matter which objective you select.) Now click Audience in the Ad Set section of the left column that appears. In the center column, choose Everyone in This Location, and specify the geographical region you want. For the total number of Facebook users, avoid setting any demographic or other parameters. At the top of the right column, find the Audience Definition dial display. Below the dial is a numerical value for potential reach, which is the total number of Facebook users in the location you requested.

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