Previous generations of marketers could not even dream of the amount of audience data that we have at our fingertips now and the rich sources from which we can instantly gather information. Social media is, by its very nature, all about sharing personal facts, tastes, activities, desires and connections. There's so much actionable, valuable data being exchanged on Facebook that some have gone so far as to assert that the network is a CIA front. Accompanying every 140-character tweet are 150 different fields of metadata - and that's before we've even looked at the profile of the Twitter user who posted it.
Utilizing all of this readily available data can provide a major boost to your marketing program. Segmenting the data by any number of factors and parameters allows marketers to see which types of content resonates with which personas - and which posts are most effective for capturing relevant leads on social media. When you regularly review your social media marketing impact and tactics in a way that incorporates data segmentation according to audience personas, you give yourself the ability to refine and optimize the strategies that inform your subsequent efforts.
Prior to the digital revolution, marketing segmentation was a crude and only somewhat helpful endeavor. Marketers did pay attention to the demographic parameters of the audiences they were striving to reach. But there's only so much you can learn about people when you classify them according to age brackets that span decades, tiered household income levels, regions of residence and gender. When you can segment by factors like product interests, activity timing and job title, you're really playing with power.
Mining Social Media for Segment Data Riches
Social media channels are excellent sources for sales prospect profiling and intelligence data that you can use to inform your segmentation schemes. LinkedIn offers tons of information about people's work lives. You can use this data to segment marketing impact by position, profession, employer, education, group memberships and connections.
Twitter profiles contain less personal information, but there is still a lot to be learned from the tweets themselves, which are almost always publicly available. The user's bio blurb, website URL, number of followers, list of people he or she follows and location can all be accessed with ease. There are also plenty of great tools that can help marketers to draw conclusions about Twitter users based on their activity and the keywords they use.
Facebook Insights provides data about your page's fans, people reached and people engaged. Facebook will show you how your Company Page's audience skews by gender, city, country and language. LinkedIn Company Page analytics offer similar information, as job title, industry and employer company size.
Formulating and Targeting Segments
Now that you have collected all of this data, effectively enabling your efforts to better understand whom you're attracting with your posts, it's time to see which segments are most likely to do business with you.
By adding tracking parameters to the URLs you post and taking advantage of social networks' native targeting tools, you can learn a lot about what types of people respond differently to different types of messages. Want to know whether Indiana-based audience members are more likely to click on your Facebook post promoting a new product page than Maryland-based audience members? Simply create the same post twice, using tracking parameters to identify which is which, and set Facebook to aggregate your post in the news feeds of residents of each state.
Some tools, such as CRMs and premium analytics platforms, will integrate directly with your social media management platform, allowing you to get really creative with how to use the data for marketing automation via private messaging and custom targeting via paid social posts.
Segmenting is a process that requires a lot of ongoing experimentation. Consider segmenting according to parameters like new vs. old customers, existing customers vs. prospects, evangelists vs. others, influencers vs. wallflowers and loyal audience members vs. the disengaged. Think about keywords used in interactions with your company as indicators of a person's stage in the conversion funnel. And if you have access to information on location, gender, age, seniority at their company, role at the company and type of company, why not leverage that as well? The more specific you can make your segments, the better you'll be able to craft messages optimized to resonate with each.
When you segment your social media audience, you can learn a lot about what works and what doesn't. Track the impact of segmented messaging with different types of conversions and micro conversions, assigning a business value to each. You might find, for example, that you get the most Facebook shares when you post in the evenings but that a higher percentage of clickthroughs lead to sales when you post early in the mornings.
Here are some of the micro conversions that might make sense for you to correlate to segment data:
- Email subscriptions
- Visits to specific landing pages
- Visits to several pages in one session
- Repeat visits over time
- Lead capture form submits
- Time to purchase
- Size of purchase
- Frequency of purchases
Keep experimenting until you find the patterns. Use the insights gleaned from tracking to tweak or even radically change your social media marketing strategy as necessary.
Social ROI Is Hiding in Your Data
The purpose of data analysis in business is to hunt for the correlations that drive sales. Once you find these correlations, you can determine what to emphasize in future messaging for each segment.
The more you segment your social media audience, the more opportunities you have for correlating segments with efficient messaging tone, timing, format and content. Sending the right messages to prospects at the right time is what social media marketing is all about. By building the right types of relationships with the right prospects, you'll increase your audience size, conversion rates and revenues.