Audience segmentation is one of the greatest tools in a marketer’s arsenal.
Audience segmentation is one of the greatest tools in a marketer’s arsenal. In traditional marketing settings like direct mail or radio spot placement, narrowing your message to only the most relevant audience can instantly double the effectiveness of your ad (and therefore increase the ROI of your campaign).
Even some digital marketing strategies, like email marketing, offer convenient ways to isolate segments of your audience and increase the targeting of your outbound messaging.
But what about social media marketing, where social platforms aren’t intended primarily as marketing tools and audiences are national or international? Fortunately, there are still a handful of tools and tactics you can use to segment your audiences properly.
1. Proper platform selection
First, it’s worth mentioning that your choice of social media platforms instantly serves as a form of audience segmentation by itself. For example, Pinterest’s demographics tend to lean toward women, so if you have specific marketing messages for women, posting on Pinterest could help isolate that group.
Similarly, Snapchat users tend to be younger than users of other, more popular platforms, and older professionals seem to prefer LinkedIn over anything else. If you’re on multiple platforms, you can use these distinguishing characteristics to decide where to post your material.
2. Targeted messaging (and advertising)
One of the most obvious ways to segment your demographics is through paid advertising on various social platforms. Almost every social media platform offers some level of audience filtering when you opt to pay for an advertising campaign, though these options range from simple geographic targeting, to advanced filters narrowing down audiences to highly specific segments.
Of course, the downside is that you have to pay for the advertising to get access to these features. As you’ll see below, there are other ways to manually segment your audience, but paid advertising does offer one of the best and most thorough means of ensuring your messages get to the right people.
3. Facebook filtering
Facebook doesn’t explicitly allow businesses to create custom lists on its platform, though there is a way to filter the audience you’re messaging without worrying about paying for advertising. For example, you can use post filtering to narrow your audience for a given message down to only local residents—which is perfect for internationally active brands looking to invite people to a local event.
Unfortunately, the Facebook filtering for business pages doesn’t get more advanced than this—if you want more demographic controls on Facebook, you’ll have to pay for them with advertising.
4. LinkedIn groups
LinkedIn groups don’t offer a specific way to filter how your messages are released, but they do offer a nice way to connect with pre-defined segments of different audiences. For example, if you’re selling something specifically to marketers, you can join a national marketing group and use that as a platform for engagement.
There, you’ll be able to post messages, respond to questions, and even engage with people, and you’ll be nearly guaranteed that everyone there is a marketer. Unfortunately, the groups on LinkedIn are mostly limited to the professional realm, so you won’t be able to filter down with age ranges, genders, or other factors.
5. Twitter Lists
Twitter lists offer one of the best ways to organize your followers on social media, but unfortunately, they can’t do much for your outgoing messaging. On Twitter, you can create dozens of different lists, manually separating your followers into different categories such as “top buyers,” “competitors,” or “decision makers.”
You can make these lists public or private, and access them whenever you want. They’re extremely handy for finding out what certain segmented demographics are talking about and are interested in, but they’re not as handy for segmenting your outgoing messaging. It’s not possible to send a tweet or direct message to only the followers within a given list.
6. Separate profiles
If none of the above strategies are working for you, or if your audience segmentation strategy has different demands, consider splitting your company into separate profiles across different social media platforms. For example, you could create a local business page for different geographic segments, or create sub-pages for niche interests of your followers.
This will allow you to build specific audiences and refine your outgoing messaging, but will also present more challenges in your ongoing management.
7. Personal brands
As another alternative to separate profiles, you can consider using various personal brands to complement and enhance your core brand efforts. For example, you could have several different personal brands, each specializing in a different area of your business, working on building up audience segments that can then be used as recipients for targeted messaging.
Make good use of these tools and strategies to segment your audience to more specific, narrower niches. Choose your messages for each niche carefully, and don’t be afraid to go too narrow. The more demographic qualities you filter out, the smaller your audience will become, but that decrease in volume is also associated with an increase in relevance.