The Importance of Segmentation & Targeting.
Traditional public relations uses the media gatekeepers to get the message through to the audience. That means that you must segment your audience, determine which media best targets your audience, and craft the message. The message must appeal not just to the intended audience, but also to the media gatekeepers themselves.
In social media, the gatekeepers have been eliminated, allowing companies unhindered access to their audiences. This does not mean that you get to throw out the rulebook. In effective social media marketing the same old rules apply. Segment your audience, determine which social media will best target your intended audience, and craft your message to appeal to your audience.
Targeting Social Media
Not all social media will be equally productive. It depends on what you are selling, how you are selling it, and who your customers are. Just because Twitter is wildly popular doesn’t mean Twitter is the place to put a lot of time and attention if you are selling gynecological instruments. As Forbes Magazine put it:
“Social networks have been ‘played out’ in the consumer landscape for around a decade now. We are all used to Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and others. It was inevitable perhaps that the business world would develop the networking and collaboration principles of social and evolve them into something that could a) serve users and b) be monetized. But simply creating one network for all business users is too broad a proposition. Train drivers don’t want to network with brain surgeons and landscape gardeners.”*
B2B Organizations and Social Media Marketing
This is especially true for the B2B organization. If you are promoting to IT professionals, there is Spiceworks. If you are a university professor who must publish and hopes to gain citations of h/her work by others, there is Academia.edu. For physicians, there is Doximity. The gynecological instrument manufacturer will do a great deal better on Doximity than Twitter, where they will be competing with 304 million other monthly users—most of whom are not doctors.
That being said, should you abandon Twitter, Facebook and the rest? That depends on your social media marketing resources and whether or not you are reaching people effectively through these social media streams. Twitter is still a productive place to promote events, white papers and the like. Facebook for the B2B company may not be making much sense these days. People seem to be using Facebook for personal news and interests. So, if you’re a nail polish manufacturer or you’re selling cute puppies or kittens, it probably works wonders. Pinterest is great if you have a lot of visual interest (food, clothes, crafts). But, if you’re selling IT services, not so much. LinkedIn is really for individual professionals who want to network with similar professionals. You can get a LinkedIn business page (as you can on Facebook), but the jury is still out on the effectiveness of these pages.
None of these social networks will do you any harm (unless you do something stupid), but you need to determine on a case-by-case basis whether they are doing you any good. If not, put your resources into the most productive social media streams.
Targeting Content to Your Audience in Social Media Marketing
Crafting your message to appeal to your audience is still the basic #1 most important rule of communications. This is regardless of the media employed to deliver that message. At the same time, you have to be aware of the value of keywords in social media. This will assure that search engines will select and deliver the right message to the right person. It’s a balancing act—but that, too, is nothing new in marketing.
Here are a few rules to follow when creating content for social media
Have a valid keyword list
We have covered how to do this multiple times on this blog, and here are a few links to give you some ideas:
- SEO Audit Part 3: Content
- Best Practices for Copywriting in the Digital Age
- Boost SEO Effectiveness through PPC Testing
- Boosting SEO with an Organic Site Review
Put yourself in the shoes of the customer
What does the customer want to know? How can you make things better for the customer? Give away information that your customer values to build interest, trust—and eventually—desire to purchase.
Do not focus on your company or your product
Focus instead on the customer’s needs. No one cares that your admin had a baby, but they care very deeply when you solve one of their pressing problems.
Invite a conversation
This is easier said than done, but the objective is to get your customers involved in an interactive discussion with you and among themselves. An engaged follower is more likely to become a customer. How you achieve this depends largely on the nature of your business. Ask questions. Invite people’s viewpoints on critical issues in your industry. Have a contest with a giveaway. There are lots of ways to do this, and many of them do not involve spending money.
Does Social Media Work?
As marketers, we are always looking for ways to improve our results—and perhaps more important, prove our results. Marketing automation software developers have eagerly tried to give us what we want: lots and lots of numbers. But sometimes the numbers don’t actually mean a great deal.
What does it mean, for example, when 75 people re-Tweeted your post? It obviously means that more people potentially saw your post, but how does that translate to customer acquisition or sales? How many people actually read your post out of that number?
Social media occupies the same position as traditional public relations; when you’re doing it right, it works, but it’s hard to quantify how or how much. The most reliable way to know it’s working is when a customer says, “I saw your post on Twitter,” or “I follow your blog.”
Automated social media marketing software can help in this respect. Software that can take over the task of posting for you (although someone still has to develop content and load it in the queue) takes some of the sheer drudgery off your hands. And there are tools to analyze and refine your Twitter feed, for instance, getting rid of false or inappropriate followers and helping you to more accurately target your audience. Managing social media takes the same strategic mindset and hard work as any other marketing vehicle.
* *The Author* *
Kathy brings depth of experience in business and high technology communications, having worked in public relations, marketing communications, and social media for clients ranging from semiconductors and networking equipment to consumer goods.
Prior to joining the Beasley Direct Marketing team, she worked as a senior writer/editor for Cisco Systems, Inc., developing thought leadership for C-level executives across industries ranging from healthcare to telephony. Before Cisco, Kathy worked for 10 years as a freelance writer and editor, working on marketing materials for a variety of clients.
Before becoming a freelancer, Kathy was CEO of Oak Ridge Public Relations, Inc., an award-winning PR agency in Silicon Valley, with clients such as IBM, Solectron, Philips Semiconductor, Bay Networks, Epson, and Xilinx. Kathy founded this company and managed it for 13 years.
Kathy was vice president of Tycer-Fultz-Bellack (now BBDO), formerly one of the largest advertising and PR firms in Silicon Valley. She managed a team of professionals who delivered strategic communications services to clients such as Informix, Exar, and Monolithic Memories. She started her career in PR at Acurex Corporation, an aerospace technology firm.
Kathy is a published novelist, writing under the name K.D. Keenan.