Is your target audience using social media?


By Janine Lloyd, Grey Hair Consulting Partner

Is your target audience using social media?
Time and again I hear people saying “you have to be in social media” or “if you are not embracing social media you will be left behind”. I admit to having said that myself in the early days of the social media craze. Now with more experience under my belt, with successes and a few failures in the digital world, I can safely say that if your target market is not using social media don’t bother.

Implementing a proper social media plan is time consuming, resource heavy and requires dedication, consistency and a lot of upfront thinking. However, it is critical that you do the upfront strategic thinking and analysis, because you will soon see where and why your market is using social media or where they are not. Rather be clear and certain that your target audiences are either on or not on social media – this way your strategy and plan is informed by analysis and not guess work.

So, how can you identify whether your target audiences/stakeholders are using social media?

Tip1: Back 2 Basics – who are you trying to reach?
This may seem a given, however there are many organisations who still forget to properly build a profile of the people they are trying to reach. To properly find out where your market is going digitally, you need to know more about them beyond their work position. For example, how old are they, their gender, where do they work and live, what are their preferences, attitudes and lifestyles?  Having a proper, informed profile of your target audiences is just as important digitally as it is for all your marketing tactics.

Tip 2: Think digital not just social
It is so easy to fall into the trap of investigating only social media when developing a strategy. However, when delving into where and how your audiences are engaging in the digital world you need to include: web platforms, email, mobile, Google search and social media. You may find that while your key audiences are not actively using social media they may be very active on Google search or may be highly receptive to email marketing or display advertising.

Tip 3: Understand why your audiences are using digital channels?
It is critical to know why your audiences are using these channels. Typically people are connecting to digital channels for a variety of reasons from researching information, product comparisons, connecting with their communities, purchasing products, getting product support and so on. It is important to understand how your target market likes to be communicated with as well as the tone that works in these different channels.

Tip 4: Identify who of your audiences are on Twitter, Pinterist, Facebook, LinkedIN, YouTube and other social media?
When delving in you will find that not everyone uses the same social media. For example LinkedIN users are more business oriented and they are using it to make business, career and networking connections. Whereas Facebook is more of a social platform where people are connecting with friends, family and interest groups, and Pinterist is about sharing beautiful images again with friends, family and interest groups. Twitter is a great platform for following quick news, media and celebrities. So, it is important to understand who is using which platform and why they are using it. You may very well find that while your customers are not on Facebook, your staff and other influencers are and this is a compelling enough reason to include these channels in your strategy.

Tip 6: Use the tools available
While there are ways to do this analysis with tools such as Google analytics, Google keyword research, Facebook analytics, Twitalyzer 5.0,, you will also need to put your research hat on and source additional information using insights from others and your own primary research. This can be time consuming and it may be worth working with a social media monitoring company in South Africa such as Brandseye, Saidwot or Radian 6, however these tools require an investment which not all organisations have in their budgets.  It is important to note that in the long-term if you are using social media in your marketing communications mix, then you must be able to monitor and measure your success.