Define Your Target Market Using Social Media Data
Overview: What is a target market?
A target market is the audience you aim to sell your product or service to. You define a target market in terms of its geographic, demographic, behavioral, and psychographic characteristics.
One of the benefits of social media for small businesses is the data-rich feedback loop between you and your clients. Every interaction you have with your marketing audience generates data points, which you can analyze to improve your target market.
How to define your target market right now
With social media, you can continually acquire data to improve your understanding of the target market.
For this reason, the concept of the "persona" as the personification of your target market has won its way into the modern marketers’ way of working.
The starting point for the process is to define your basic set of personas from your product or service functionalities -- the ideal end-user types. When that is done, you start the process of defining your target market.
Defining Your Initial Personas
Step 1: Client personas and product fit
Your product or service was built for a purpose, and will fit with certain personality types, age groups, or nationalities.
This basic segmentation is your first step in identifying your initial three or four personas, who represent your initial market segmentation.
Chances are you already have them defined from when you made an initial social media marketing plan or when you first came up with your product during the development process.
Step 2: Hashtags and keyword territories
Some of the important vehicles for targeting in digital marketing are keywords and hashtags. It helps to think of your personas in the light of hashtags and keyword territories.
A good way to start is to think about the stages in the user journey for each persona: In the Awareness phase, where users first become conscious of a need they have, what would this persona search for on Google?
Move on to the Consideration phase, where buyers start to investigate what options are out there, to identify common interrogations and queries. Add these as keywords to each persona.
To understand what keywords users are looking for, you can use tools like Google Trends, the Google Ads keyword tool or one of the many commercial keyword tools you will find for SEO, Paid Search, or Amazon marketing, such as SEMrush, Ahrefs, and SearchMetrics.
In Social media: What hashtags would qualify the needs of your persona and enable you to target him or her? You can search directly within your social media accounts, or use external tools like Hashtagify.me.
Step 3: Review mining
The next step in the process is to dig deeper into the opinions and views that users express about your product or service.
User reviews are publicly available on all the major internet platforms, and you can browse through individual reviews for your own products or services as well as those of your competitors.
Log in to Amazon, Google, or Facebook, and start digging for insights. You should be looking for user criteria for selecting a product, for user wording when describing it, and for strengths and weaknesses they express for both your own and your competitors’ end users.
Be aware that there can be fake reviews, but even those can sometimes be useful to define the key characteristics of your offering.
You should also remember that you should differentiate your brands from your competitors and not necessarily adopt all the characteristics you identify from researching reviews on their products.
Step 4: Audience insights
Through steps 1, 2, and 3, you have now built an initial segmentation of your market based on qualitative traits. You can take those insights into the social media platforms to measure what they represent and get a feeling for audience sizes.
If you have a business page on Facebook, you have access to Facebook's analytics, called Facebook Insights, where you can estimate the market size for the persona you identify via basic demographic and geographic settings coupled with a definition of interests that correspond to your persona keywords.
As your aim is to define the target market on social media and a large majority of the population has a Facebook account, it is a fair approximation to use the market sizes from Facebook as a general measure for the market size.
This data has two weaknesses that you need to be aware of. First, it is data based on estimations and therefore less reliable than social media analytics data from real media activity. Second, the data is based on data sets like users' ad preferences and are good approximations but not fully reliable, as you will realize if you scroll through your own preferences.
Step 5: Similar audiences and conversion feedback
At this stage, you should have a good description of a number of personas representing a market segment as well as an estimated market size for each. This may be enough for you to define which market should be your target, so this next step is optional.
In step 5, you'll need to run a marketing campaign to get real-life data and discover broader segments. This allows you to expand your audience and discover broader segments of users who could be integrated into your target audience. Measuring the level of engagement and conversion from campaigns addressing the new audience will validate the usefulness of the new audience.
Step 6: Persona enrichment and documentation
You now have done the necessary research for defining your target market. You know the characteristics of its members and the size of the market. Comparing your personas, you may need to estimate the buying frequency and order values they represent before choosing your main target market.
At this point, you should store your learnings in a work file with a format that allows you to reuse and improve it over time. The process should be thought of as a repeating cycle, allowing you to constantly improve your insights and understanding of user behavior and needs.
What is a persona?
A persona is a visual representation of a market segment described as if it were a real person. Personas have names and mottos. Their jobs and life routines are described, as well as their motivations and interests.
What is first-party data?
There are three types of data: First-party data typically refers to the client and user data you have.
This is opposed to second-party data, which will be the information a social network holds about your users. Finally, third-party data would be data you acquire from a third party that enriches the data you can access via a social network.
What is differentiation?
When you are reviewing user feedback on your competitor’s products or services, it is important to remember that your own brand positioning shouldn’t directly copy that of your competitors.
That would not make your brand stand out as something special, and would force you to compete on price only. Differentiation is the process of emphasizing your uniqueness and special positioning as opposed to your direct competitors.
Target the persona who represents the market
You have defined your target market via a persona, hashtags, and keywords, and estimated the market size for your target audience.
Your marketing meetings will become much more fun, as you discuss how to persuade "Suzan, the small town mom" into a trial of your new product, rather than looking at a random segment and its demographic characteristics.
Social media has empowered person-to-person communication, and personifying a target market makes your social media marketing much easier; you also know exactly what keywords and hashtags will trigger their interests.