Everybody in the online industry works hard to reach the coveted first page of the SERPs. Why? Because we all want to be seen—the first one to be seen—by our target audience. High traffic and high conversion rates are almost always guaranteed when you land on the first SERP. However, this is very difficult to achieve especially if you have a lot of competition. If your website is still on the 3rd or subsequent SERPs, you need to go out there and find your target audience yourself. Once you do that, you will be able to promote your website or business directly to them. This way you won’t be relying too much on your search ranking—especially if it’s not much of a help in the first place.
The first and most important thing you need to do is to know everything there is to know about your target audience. Once you have a profile, it will be easy to figure out where their online haunts are.
1. Identify the demographics of your target audience.
People have predictable behaviors depending on their age, interests, and general personalities. Teenagers, for example, can be expected to have Facebook and Twitter accounts. Adults, especially the white-collar professionals who need to maintain online portfolios, can be expected to have Linked In or Google+ accounts. Stay-at-home mothers usually pass their time chatting with friends and secret groups in Facebook.
Do a background analysis of your target audience and come up with a general character profile. Surely, when you first came up with the idea for your online business, you already have a picture of who are the people you will offer your products/services to.
2. Find social groups and communities that share the interests or hobbies that your business intends to cater to.
Suppose you’re running a blog about pet care. Love and adoration for one’s pets is something thousands of people have in common, and because of that commonality, they will inevitably form groups and communities where they can proceed to rave about their pets without being ridiculed as sappy and corny. Join these groups and interact with the members on a personal level. Do not bombard them with advertisements right away; otherwise they’d kick you out. Always remember that social media networks are made to foster human relationships and interaction.
Use the search functions in Twitter and Facebook (although you’re more likely to find groups or fan pages that may take an interest in your online business on Facebook). Use simple keywords first, like “dog lovers,” “cat fans,” and the like. These search features may not be as good as search engines (especially if the name of the group doesn’t have “pet lovers” or derivations of it), but the results you get will inevitably introduce you to other similar groups. Pay attention to the suggestions provided for you.
Suggestions are on the left-hand side in Twitter, right-hand side on Facebook.
3. Monitor industry leaders and competitors.
It’s possible that your competitors and the big names in your industry are in contact with groups and people who aren’t familiar with your name yet. Include them in your targeted social marketing campaign (your strategy must be adjusted to the norm and ethics of social media networks). Slowly but surely, make them become aware that you can offer alternatives and why your business/products/services are so much better than what they are used to.
4. Use social media monitoring tools.
There are so many programs that you can use to monitor one or multiple social media networks at the same time. Some of them do require payment, but there are very good ones that are available for free like HootSuite, TweetDeck, Social Mention and GrabInBox.
These management and monitoring tools will not only be useful for efficient management of social posts across multiple networks. They will also alert you to any mentions of your business/company name, products, services, et cetera. Tweetdeck even allows you to program the words or phrases you want to be alerted to should they be mentioned in any social post.
Sample alert setting in Tweetdeck for “Neil Gaiman.”
5. Spend time interacting with people online.
What’s the point of looking for a target audience if you won’t even endeavor to establish a relationship with them? Being in social media, it is practically required for people to be social and interact on a personal level with one another. For businesses with online platforms, social media is the way for them to reach out to their target audiences, especially if personal meetings are not possible (ex. the business is entirely conducted online, the business headquarters is located far from the interested customers).
This doesn’t mean you should be logged in and glued to Facebook and Twitter the entire day. At the very least, make your presence be felt even if you’re not really online at the moment. This means make regular posts, reply to messages and comments, invite others to share their ideas and leave comments on your wall, et cetera. Spending time in social media will also expose you to more people who qualify as your target audience. Eventually, they will be the ones who will gravitate towards your account because of the interesting activity that transpires there.
6. Think of the most obvious places.
Let’s say you run a website where you sell brand new clothes at discount prices. Off the top of your head, you must know that your target customers (online shoppers, possibly adults who work nine to five and don’t have time to go to the mall) are probably searching for clothes at eBay, Amazon, Pinterest, or Facebook fan pages.
What you can do is create accounts in the online marketplaces and capture those leads. Invite customers to proceed to your website or social media account, if that’s where you conduct a larger part of your business, to see more product choices or know more about the services you offer.
Capture conversion leads from obvious locations and redirect them to your more active social media account.
7. Ask your followers, friends, and fans to recommend and share your social media accounts to other people they know.
A wisely selected and placed call to action—specifically one that requests people to share your social media accounts—is sometimes enough to get your audience to come to you, instead of you finding them.
These are just basic strategies for searching target audiences on social media. Your niche and the nature of your business will actually influence your methodologies. It may be considered acceptable for online merchants to send friend invites to shoppers, but not for online businesses that hope to attract audiences in the corporate world. Notice that it goes back to the very first item in our list—getting to know your target audience very well before crafting a plan of approach.