How to Segment Your Target Market on Social Networks

Koka Sexton
Koka Sexton Sr. Social Marketing Manager, LinkedIn

Posted on April 23rd 2013

How to Segment Your Target Market on Social Networks

shutterstock_104979245Segmentation isn’t necessarily a new concept, but it is a crucial discipline to master in today’s sales climate. Actually, segmentation can be traced way back to the 1950s when companies both small and large began targeting specific groups of people with attractive marketing and advertising campaigns.

At its core, segmentation is about relevance. Let’s face it, we’re not going to be continuously relevant to everyone within our massive pool of current, past and potential customers. No matter how much we attempt to generalize or universalize our marketing messages, we’re just not going to reach everyone. So, not only is segmentation helpful for moving customers through our various sales funnels, but its also necessary for survival.

The Inherent Value of Segmentation

Modern segmentation is heavily steeped in the ever-changing world of social media. Today’s customers are equal parts mobile and social-media savvy.

Using social-powered tools found in platforms such as Google+, Facebook and LinkedIn allows you to meet your customers and prospects where they spend their time online. Social media also allows you to understand where and how varying segments congregate online, and exactly what they talk about.

Leveraging Social Media for Segmenting Your Target Market

The power of social media segmentation is all about the platform your customer uses. Best marketing practice says you should execute a marketing campaign on all platforms. Your customers may not all be on the same platform, but they’re not necessarily on every platform either. You could spend an inordinate amount of time building a Twitter campaign that delivers absolutely nothing because your customers aren’t on Twitter. Every market is different, and every customer is different. Marketers love social media because it allows them to create customized experiences for their customers. If some of your customers are on Twitter and some of them don’t even have LinkedIn profiles, you can customize campaigns so each customer feels like one of a kind. You can build a Twitter campaign and an email campaign to reach a broader group of prospects.

Testing is the best way to determine where your prospects are. You’ll never know until you run a campaign on every platform, so take the time to execute a campaign on all platforms and focus future efforts on platforms that generate the most leads.

Uniformity is a thing of the past. Welcome to the age of elastic market segmentation.

The Segmentation Ball is in Your Court

You can segment by geographic location, age, sex, online search/engagement behaviors, and just about any other user-defining characteristic you can dream up, and you can segment even further through platform. You may find that your Bay Area prospects prefer Twitter and your Midwest prospects prefer phone calls. The more pinpointed your segments, the better your results.

Koka Sexton

Koka Sexton

Sr. Social Marketing Manager, LinkedIn

Koka Sexton, Social Selling Evangelist and Sr. Social Marketing Manager at LinkedIn, is one of the most recognized social selling experts in the technology industry. A career in helping companies use social media for lead generation, creating new opportunities, and engaging customersREAD MORE at the LinkedIn Sales Solutions blog.
 

See Full Profile >

Comments

MarketingXLerator
Posted on April 23rd 2013 at 11:16PM

Koka:

 

when I read "segmentation" I was hoping you'd talk about HOW to segment people on Twitter and Facebook not that it's needed and what the criteria should be.


I agree with everything you are saying, but the challenge is dissecting ones following to find out who they are and to find out where our target audience is getting their information. I don't think testing is good enough. It requires tools and luckily there is a lot of research out there, e.g. :

So, thanks for the blog. The hard work is to figure out how to find where the segments are (and identifying a target audience in a meaningful way, in my case for B2B, is a challenge for most companies in itself).

Best, look forward to more blogs,

Natashca

Michael Leuthner
Posted on April 24th 2013 at 6:42PM

At this point I'd guess the need to segment our audiences is widely known and accepted. Still, having a post like this is occasionally useful for making the case to new marketers and I've sent it to a couple of our new interns.

But I have to second what Natashca said - understanding and keeping up on how to do it is of greatest value to me, and was the reason I'd clicked through originally.

And Natashca - thank you for those links - I hadn't seen this newest research from Pew and found it really useful to read through.

jess_dewell
Posted on April 27th 2013 at 2:45PM

Taking the basis presented (it is a great overview!) one step further...

Understanding an idea of who customers are before beginning marketing reduces the need to test every platform (that's a lot of effort, and for solo-prenuers and marketing or social departments of 1-2).  

Knowing your target audience, even if that means creating Character Customer Profiles which are profiles with faces, names and lives, that represent the inherent aspects of the core audience.  The profiles  provide a sense of who the audience is, what in their life creates the opportunity for using the product, and how/when they are ready for the product can be compared to demographics of where and how they use social media.

Character Customers offer a deeper way to integrate demographics and socio-graphics to make educated decisions about where to spend time and resources for the best outcome.  Testing is still needed as it doesn't create a silver bullet.  

Social is long term marketing, so if there are only resources for 1-2 effective 6-month tests, make smart choices with the knowledge you have.