This is a question I get often from marketers who are struggling to find and prove the value of social media to their business. Generally, it's followed by an explanation of the various social media tactics they have tried to address this concern. Maybe they'll publish more often or change up the type of content they share. Maybe they'll engage with industry experts on the platform. They might even try hosting a live chat or event.
The one thing most of them aren't doing? Segmenting their audience on social media.
Segmentation is not a new concept for marketers. We use segmentation to send emails, create pricing models, and understand the behaviors of our most loyal buyers -- so why aren’t we applying this practice to social media?
To get some ideas for ways you can use segmentation in your social media strategy, keep on reading.
1) Use social media targeting.
When most people think of social media segmentation, they think of paid targeting options. Facebook allows businesses to target their messages to users based on data such as user demographics, interests, and geographical location. Other platforms including Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram have followed suit. Paid targeting is effective because it enables companies to get a specific message in front of a specific audience.
Lucky for budget-minded marketers, there are also some organic targeting options. Below are ways you could make use of both organic and paid targeting tactics.
Organic targeting allows users to tailor their content to specific audiences without paying to promote a post. Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+ make it easy for companies to do organic targeting.
Facebook allows you to filter by gender, relationship status, age, location, interests and more. Simply create your post and select the target audience of your choice.
LinkedIn allows you to target by industry, company size, function and more. This is a a great feature for B2B companies that are seeking to attract more visitors.
You can also select a specific audience on Google+ by publishing your content to a select circle of friends (you will need manually add members to the circle).
Paid targeting enables companies to be seen by social media users who are already active users and more likely to engage your offer and campaign. As a result, companies can increase their reach, expand their audience size, and achieve more quality conversions.
Almost all the social networks allow you to create targeted paid campaigns. Below is an example from Facebook -- you can target posts by gender, age, behavior, location and more.
2) Create a group.
Social media is all about community. Building communities of people who share common interests is an easy way to segment your audience and gain valuable insights. You may decide to keep the group open (anyone can join) or closed (new members must be approved by a moderator) -- there are advantages to each.
Open groups enable you to gather information about how a more general audience feels about your brand. You can use this forum to have discussions and ask open-ended questions such as, “What are your biggest challenges?” or “What makes excellent customer service?” You can also test out new ideas with your audience members or discover new content ideas that they would find interesting and relevant. The advantage here is that you will have a large group to bounce ideas off of. The disadvantage? They may not be as knowledgeable about your industry as you need.
That's where closed groups can come in handy. Because you are approving each member's admission to the group, you can cherry-pick the most qualified candidates. Maybe they're a group of customers whose opinions you value, or list of people who have attended an even you've hosted. Regardless of what the requirements of admission, this can be a great way to get specific, helpful feedback from a group you trust -- but you may not get as many responses as an open group discussion.
3) Make a list.
Most marketers are familiar with creating lists -- we do that every time we send a new email campaign.
But did you know you can use lists to have more productive social media conversations? Social networks like Facebook and Twitter allow users to create lists of friends, followers, people who have attended an event, and more.
If you're a HubSpot customer, the lists you use for your email can actually be one and the same as your social monitoring lists. (If you're curious about how to create one, check out this Academy help document.) This means that you could set up a stream for each of your buyer personas, a stream for leads who are talking about your brand, or customers in a certain industry. You'll spend much less time trying to filter through the noise, and much more time having relevant, targeted conversations.
4) Post at different times of the day.
We’ve all heard how important timing is to marketing, especially on social media. If you have a global following, you should be publishing posts throughout the day at the times most appropriate for different geographic regions. Differentiating your publishing times allows you to get engagement from a larger portion of your audience. Additionally, publishing a message more than once or at different times of the day can help your reach a specific audience that you haven't reached before.
5) Maintain multiple social media accounts on each network.
As you become a better marketer and master ways to segment your audience, more and more people from all over the world are going to be interested in connecting with you through social media. At that point, you may find that the best way to consistently serve your audience relevant content is by setting up several social media accounts, each with a specific bent.
At HubSpot, we maintain more than five different Twitter accounts to provide content that is relevant to each segment of our audience. For example, @HubSpotAcademy is a channel that inbound marketers can use in order to learn how to be a better inbound marketer, while @HubSpotSupport is a channel that our customers can use to get help using the HubSpot platform. Both Twitter accounts are relevant to anyone interested in HubSpot, but they are most relevant to their particular segments.
Keep in mind that each social media account should still serve a larger audience, so be sure to work on building your overall audience from one account before you try building out more. Also, if you decide to start building out more accounts, be sure that people can easily differentiate their purpose (ex: customer support, marketing materials, your yearly event, etc.) -- otherwise, you'll be creating more work for yourself.
So there you have it, five ways to segment your social media audience for more relevant conversations -- and eventually, more conversions.
How else do you segment your social media audience?
Originally published Jun 3, 2015 6:00:00 AM, updated July 28 2017