Let’s Talk about Variables…

There are many things to consider when thinking about a Social Media strategy. One of the most important elements is the audience itself; who are you targeting, how will you target them, where are they and why should they listen to you? Regardless of the type of organization you represent, answers to the above questions need to feature as a significant part of your Social Media plan.

When considering Government, Non-Profits and Businesses, these are three variables that need to be considered when identifying who their Social Media audiences are:

– Relationship/current level of Engagement
– Value – How important are this target group to your strategy?
– Demographic and Habits – Social Media and other

What kind of a relationship/level of engagement all organizations currently have with a target audience, and what kind of relationship/level of engagement do they want to have and how should organizations respond to this?

Essentially, there are three main types of relationships; Relationships with Influencers, Ambassadors and Others.  Regardless of the type of relationship you have with the Influencers, they are crucial to your success and any relationship must be nurtured and built up as this is where the money and clout is.  The Ambassadors are your biggest supporters.  They may not have funds, but they have clout and allies, and engaging this group is fundamental to your success.  Everyone else falls into the Others category.  This is where people who are somewhat engaged with your brand sit.  They may not seem valuable to you now, but your future success may lie here, so it is important to engage with, but not invest too much time with, this group.

As you will also see from the above infographic, engrained in this is the Value variable. The value that an organization places on a person or group will determine how much time, effort and marketing budget they allocate for this group in the Social Media plan. Value can be determined in a number of different ways for different organizations:

Value, for a Government could mean many things including:
– Financial value – how much could an individual or collective contribute to a campaign
– Influential value – is this person/organization one who influences others? Does their opinion count and can it be used for the benefit of a campaign?
– Future value – is this person or group one who may not been significant now, but will be in the future?
– Devalued – was this person or collective once a target audience and something has changed to alter the landscape?

For Non-Profits and Businesses, the Value proposition when considering target audiences is pretty similar. The main differential is on the Financial side. Non-Profits would be seeking donations, and Businesses may be seeking capital or sales.

Demographics and Habits are huge also considerations when thinking about who the Social Media audience is. “Who” they are is what constitutes their demographics. Knowing the answer to this question is crucial for all organizations. Coupled with the “Who,” is the “What”. In relation to Social Media, this is all about which Social Media platforms they currently use.

The “Who” is all about age, gender, ethnicity, marital status, whether they have children, where they live, their level of education, their profession. The list goes on and on. This is a huge variable that has to be considered and understood.

For Government knowing the “who” will allow them to tailor Social Media messages according to, for example, life stage. A potential outbreak of flu would be of particular interest to seniors and parents with young kids, but a high school student may be more interested in knowing about what support is available after a night of unprotected sex.

For Non-Profits, the “who” is pivotal in differentiating donors and supporters (they can, of course, be one in the same too). Looking at it broadly though, knowing whether someone earns and has a higher propensity to donate will change the tone of a Social Media message to this group, compared with targeting a group of teenagers who would be more interested in raising awareness by posting photos on Facebook or Instagram.

For Businesses, broadly speaking, the “who” will determine whether you are a purchaser or a pesterer i.e. do you have the means to buy something, or do you need to persuade someone else to purchase on your behalf.

In terms of Habits, regardless of the kind of organization you represent, you need to know the Social Media platform movements of your target users. There is no point creating an entire campaign on Facebook when the majority of your users use Twitter for example. This analysis needs to form a integral part of your groundwork before committing to any further steps. In addition, it’s also really useful to know about their lifestyle Habits; do they go to the gym? Do they eat out? By knowing these facts as well, you will be able to further engage your target audience.

By considering the above variables and identifying your target audiences your Social Media plan will become much stronger as it will be fueled by relevant information on who they are, what they do and what they currently mean to you (and you to them).  This level of detail will make for a stronger plan from which organizational objectives can be set.

  • Madolyn Noble

    Hi Raheela,
    Great Post!! I thought you really dove into the importance of relationships online, especially when determining your audience. Your infographic is informative and very helpful in understanding your post! thanks for sharing:)

    • Raheela

      Thanks so much, Madolyn :)