Finding your audiences on social media

Birds on a wireIf you are using social media, you need to think about the target audiences you want to connect with. You probably think you already know who these people are. It’s the same ones you’ve been targeting for years right? Not necessarily, as Gemma Went explains

It’s well worth spending time thinking about who you need to connect and engage with on social media. It’s about seeing past the obvious. Who is interested in your product or service? Is there anything unique that could appeal to a certain audience?

Then think about the next level, who those people might be associated with. Word of mouth is a powerful thing and it’s rife amongst social media folk, so connecting with those that are connected to your target audiences can be worthwhile.

Then think about who these people are, which industries they work in, what they like, what they read, what motivates them, age ranges, personality traits, where they hang out, technical know-how, how likely they are to use social media. Really do your research and segment your audiences by creating profiles for them. You may uncover some less obvious people that could be great for you. Keep a record of this, a simple spreadsheet will do, and as your experience of using social media grows, review and update, adding others as necessary.

Also identify your key influencers. These could be people that stand out within your communities, people that others listen to, people that create action (not necessarily those people with thousands of Twitter followers). They could be peers, journalists, thought leaders or other stakeholders. People with game-changing opinion and ideas. People who challenge the norm. Or simply people that talk sense.

The types of audiences you could be looking for include:

  • Current clients or customers
  • Potential clients or customers
  • Associates of current/potential clients or customers
  • Journalists and editors
  • Bloggers
  • Suppliers
  • Affiliate businesses
  • Thought leaders

If you don’t know who these people are, make the most of the various free monitoring tools to track who is talking about the keywords associated with your business: such as Google Analytics, Social Mention, Delicious, Addict-o-matic and Board Reader. This should highlight who has a voice in these subject areas.

Once you’ve profiled the people you want to connect with, you need to find them. This is an on-going process and takes a little time to begin with. This will give you a good idea of which social platforms you should have a presence on, so keep your mind open to niche sites as well as the big guns.

As for finding people, there are a bunch of tools you can use to help you find them on the main social networks:

How to find people on Twitter

  • Search.twitter.com is a favourite. It has a wide criteria range to search on, including location (handy for local businesses). Also use this tool to find the key influencers in your industry and browse their follower/following lists. You could find some great people to connect with there.
  • Twitterrel lets you find people talking about related topics.
  • Twellow is the Twitter equivalent of the Yellow Pages.  A directory sorted by occupation.
  • Just Tweet It, a directory sorted by interest.
  • WeFollow is a directory that organises people by hashtags.
  • Tweepz help you find people nearby and Twitter has launched a new feature which allows users that have opted in to sharing their location to see the Tweets from other users nearby.
  • Also pay attention to hashtags being used for events, you could find some great people there.

How to find people on LinkedIn

  • Search for the names of those people you’ve already identified by name using LinkedIn’s search box. Also make the most of the advanced search feature.
  • You can also use this search box to search for keywords that will be included in profiles. Make the most of using OR or AND in these searches to include a few keywords (OR allows you to look for any one of those terms in the profile, AND allows you to look for a number of words).
  • You can also search for people using their email addresses.
  • Join groups that fit your interests or industry. Once you’ve been accepted as a member, browse the member lists and find people with shared interests that you want to connect with.
  • Use the Questions and Answer function to start a conversation around your key subject area. You’ll find those people interested in this subject will respond to you, after which you can connect with them.

You can’t simply choose to connect with people on LinkedIn as you can with Twitter. They need to give their approval (which I’m a fan of), so if they’re connected to you through someone you’re connected to, request to be introduced to them.

How to find people on Facebook

  • Use the find people tool by popping your email address in. It finds all those people in your address book that are using Facebook.
  • Search for fan pages in your subject area and browse other fans there.
  • Once you’ve connected with some key influencers, browse their friends and connect with people that way.
  • When using the search function, filter your results to drill down to the people you’re looking for.
  • Use the search for workmates function to find people affiliated with companies.
  • Keep an eye on the suggestions that pop up on your news stream.

As I mentioned, this can take a little time, particularly when you first start using social media, but it’s worth the effort. It’s not a ‘one time’ job either, set a reminder to review your connections on each profile every month or so to keep it fresh and to ensure you’re not missing anyone crucial to your business.

Gemma Went is an expert contributor to Marketing Donut and is the founder and director of Red Cube Marketing.

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