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How to use Effective Targeting to Reach Your Social Media Audience

One of the foundational components of any great advertising campaign is a firm understanding of the audience you're hoping to reach. The same goes for any noteworthy social media advertising campaign - to conduct one worthy of your ad dollars, you first need to know who it is you're speaking to. 

Some questions to ask (and answer) include:

  • Who's your very best customer?
  • How would you describe them?
  • How old are they?
  • What gender(s) should you include in your targeting?
  • Do they have kids? Or, are they empty-nesters or adventurous singles?
  • What's their degree of education?
  • What motivates them?
  • Where do they spend most of their time?
  • Why are they interested in your product?
  • What will convince them to buy?

Sounds great, right? But where do you find all of this information?

Building Personas

If you're a small business owner, or your organization maintains detailed customer records, then you're in luck, as most of the information you need is either in your head or your CRM software already (or both). 

To gather the data, you can:

  • Look through your contacts database
  • Speak with your sales department to glean insights
  • Create forms or surveys to collect information directly from your customers (but keep it short and specific to demonstrate that you value your customer’s time)
  • Interview customers and prospects. This can be done formally, through a third-party firm, or informally by engaging people whenever and wherever you meet 

Next, condense the information to create two-to-three customer personas. A persona is a fictional representation of your ideal customer, based on market research and real data retrieved from an organization’s records. Personas bring your ideal customer to life and paint a mental picture upon which to build a narrative for the brand. This step ensures everyone's focused on the ‘who, what and why’ of your target customers, and enables you to construct powerful, integrated messaging across all marketing channels.

Get Granular with Your Targeting

Once you've established personas of your very best customers, go deeper with your insights by getting granular.

"Granular" in this context refers to highly-specific and accurate targeting.

For example, instead of "wealthy grandmothers", think "rich widowed grandmothers, above the age of 75, who live in New Haven Connecticut".

Okay, maybe you don't need to get that that specific, but you get the idea. Essentially, the purpose of granular targeting is to help you deliver your ad to the most precise group of consumers possible. 

Enhancing Focus

Once you've narrowed down your audience, you can use the detailed targeting options available on the various social and online platforms to reach exactly those users.

First, you need to determine your targeting options by selecting the devices, location, demographics and interests that you want to target. Remember, it's standard practice to focus across devices (desktop, tablet, mobile) and operating systems. 

With interests, you can select a target audience based on pre-set categories ranging from "gaming" to "sports" and "fashion to beauty". Your ad will be shown only to those most likely to be interested in your offering. 

Finally, does your brand currently advertise on TV? If it does, you might want to consider 'Custom Affinity Audiences' which enable you to extend the reach of TV campaigns to the digital world at an economical price. You can create Custom Affinity Audiences two ways: free-form interests entered as keywords or by referencing the URL from a website that's frequented by your desired customer. 

For example, say you've created a video ad to be served on YouTube, and you want to target avid hikers. You could enter the website URL for Backpacker - AdWords would then determine from the URL that the website is about hiking gear, hiking trails, road trips, and survival skills. Next, AdWords concludes that people who search for the above words would be interested in your ad, titled "the best boots for winter". And finally, your video ad would be shown to people who've actively searched for the identified words.

Without the proper research and preparation, you may miss the target group you're trying so hard to reach in the first place; but by understanding the behaviors and attitudes - and clarifying the demographics of your very best customers - you set your advertising campaign up for success.

This article originally appeared on Strike Social

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