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Engagement Optimization: Reaching Customers on Social Media

Ian Blair

As a start-up or SME, it’s important to not only identify your target audience and an ideal channel to reach out to them but also the best timings to manage your campaigns. There are some basic principles that need to be considered when choosing the best strategy to do this and there are some great tools that can help you do this.

Let’s start…

Identify Your Target Market

Before anything else, you need to identify your target audience. While demographics is crucial, certain key insights will tell you what kind of individuals they are – what they like or dislike, what makes them tick etc. This should give you a clear direction so that you can tailor content to engage them completely.

Most small businesses don’t have a properly devised social media strategy which gives them a clear path to take when it comes to zeroing in on their target audience. Well, there’s good news: it’s not quite as hard as you may have been led to believe.

Focus on the Basics First: Demographics

An ideal place to take your first step: define the more identifiable characteristics of your customer base. You really need to be aware of the key characteristics of your target audience, otherwise you’re marketing campaign will serve little purpose.

Credit: UAEinteract
Credit: UAEinteract

Just to give you an example, a performance car parts business will target car aficionados, speed junkies or even motorsport teams. It’s a good start, however, it won’t tell your social media team much about handcrafting content your audience will love and appreciate.

In order to fine-tune your demographics identification, ask yourself some questions, while keeping in mind the customers which have given you the most business:

  • Does my product cross any ethnical boundaries? Does it cater to any particular ethnicity only?
  • Is my product geared more towards men, women or both? In either case carefully consider some aspects about your typical user – what age bracket they fall in, whether they’re married or not and how frequently they make purchasing decisions?
  • Is my product too expensive? Will all of my customers be able to get it or will it only satisfy consumers of a specific income class?
  • What’s the physical location of my target audience? Are they local? What kind of topics do people in this locality discuss on social media?

At the end, you should have the following essential demographics clearly outlined:

  • Gender
  • Age
  • Income level
  • Location
  • Marital status
  • Occupation
  • Education Background
  • Ethnicity

What Makes Your Audience Tick: Psychographics

You’re now armed with some basic information to go with regarding your target audience. Now you must delve deeper into who they are as individuals. This is a very important step in determining what kind of content you’re going to craft on social media.

To further hone the process of ‘psychographically’ identifying your customers, stay up to date with your everyday-employees, the ones who interact directly with customers on a regular basis. Ask them customer-related questions like:

  • What do they value the most?
  • What are their likes/dislikes and what that tells you about them?
  • What kind of lifestyle do they have and how will my product or service integrate with their lifestyles?

Now look at your product/service from a critical perspective. Questions like these can help you better understand your target base:

  • What features do your current customers find the most appealing?
  • When do they particularly enjoy using your product/service?
  • And, do they prefer using it a certain way?

Understand Who Your “Aspirational” Customers Are

It may be too early to think about expanding your business, but if you are somewhat of a novice rather than a true beginner, you should start focusing on aspirational customers; these are essentially customers who may not be interested in your product/service today, but you might want to gear your business more towards them in future with the power of social media. Why? Let’s understand this in greater deal.

The example I gave earlier of a performance car parts business – our target audiences primarily were speed junkies and performance car nuts. Motorsport schools team and bloggers can be seen as aspirational customers since they would offer us ‘commercial’ business, which is undeniably more profitable than business focused only and primarily on your target base.

Additional Tips for “DIY” Target Audience Identification  

In case the above steps seem too cumbersome, you can always study one of your well-performing competitors. I’d suggest Twitonomy for this task as it will provide you with the detailed insights about their strategy, type of content they publish, who are the top followers are and what audience they’re targeting.

Why not write all this down? You might gain valuable insights. Outline your psychographics and you may inadvertently stumble upon a number of target customers. It really helps if you give them names and unique personas. This way, you’re in a better position to create more compelling content.

Pick the Most Ideal Social Networks to Reach Out

Twitter

When people interact with a small business on Twitter, they are much more likely to make future purchases from them. One of the keys to dominating social media is to have presence on the same social network channels as your customers.

Twitter has well over 200 million active users so there’s a mighty good chance you’ll find your customer base on Twitter.

Twitter can greatly help you build meaningful relationships with your target customers and even connect you with other communities or businesses you might be interested in collaborating with. Even if your startup has a relatively small team, you can use the “Twitter lists” and “advanced Twitter search” feature to build, improve and better manage customer relationships.

[thrive_lead_lock id=’15037′]Hidden Content[/thrive_lead_lock]

Check out this post about Twitter growth hacks that can revolutionize your campaigns.

When to Tweet?

Since Twitter is so wildly popular among mobile users, it might be tough to get a fix on the best time to post. However, a little digging revealed (no surprise) that brand engagement is 17% higher over the weekend.

Tweets posted on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays have the highest CTRs (click through rate) as opposed to middle-of-the-week posts. Use Buffer to your advantage to spread out the tweets so they get posted at the most opportune of times.

As for the time of day, retweets are their highest early evening, around 5 pm, as most people are getting ready to sign off from work. For click-throughs, sometime around noon and mid-evening seem to work well; people are on lunch breaks, looking for something to keep themselves occupied or on the way back from work.

In addition, Twitter Analytics does a good job of giving you a live break-down of crucial user engagement metrics.

These tools can help you too:

Twitter Analytics
Tweriod
FollowerWonk
Buffer
Social Bro
HootSuite

LinkedIn

LinkedIn is one of those social networks, where ALL businesses, be it small or big, ought to have a presence.

LinkedIn lets you establish credibility and authenticity of your brand through a business page – where all information pertaining to the who, what and where of your business is found. As a small business, this is a channel you really need to be on because you’ll run into potential customers and investors, as well as industry professionals by the numbers.

Having a proper LinkedIn page is a great free marketing tool and if you know how to use it the right way, the benefits are reaped almost immediately.

When to Post?

Since you want to reach the largest number of users, you need to publish your content when they are most active. The best recommended times are from Monday to Friday, 7-9am and 5-6pm. Working hours have the most reach, so there’s no need to be too specific about times; test out what works best for your content and tailor it accordingly.

Use Buffer to automatically choose the best time for your posts to go live, depending on the rhythms and preferences of your audience. Hootsuite also proves to be a worthy contender in this regard.

I would also recommend that you post at least twenty times each month, which can help you reach at least 60% of your audience

Check this post to learn how you can improve LinkedIn marketing strategy.

Facebook

Facebook is not only a great social media channel for effectively resolving customer queries and issues, but also serves as a great source for reaching out to new audiences.

One of the greatest benefits of having a Facebook business page is the ability to communicate directly with prospects either through your wall or private messages. It is also an excellent opportunity to get to know customers up close and what it is they’re asking for.

When to Post?

What’s the best time to post updates in order to get the most user engagement?

After some research, I’ve determined that engagement rates are generally higher on Thursdays and Fridays, perhaps because the weekend is close at hand; the closer the weekend is, the more people want to be away from work and the more time they want to spend on Facebook.

So feel free to post more status updates close to the weekend, especially on Fridays. You may want to experiment with other days as well, depending on your particular user base, though I’m going to reiterate: the closer it is to the weekend, the better.

As far as the best time of day goes, many will tell you this is largely up for debate, though there appears to be some common ground: around 1 pm to get the most shares, mid-afternoon for the most clicks, and if you want to look at it from a broader perspective, then between 9 am and  7 pm.

So, in essence, early afternoon is probably the best time for posting updates and around dinner time or right before work, not being the best.

I’d suggest closely monitoring Facebook Page Insights to give you valuable stats and info on how your social engagement is faring.

How to Better Engage Audiences Before and After Product Launch

Videos

Before and after any product launch, you should harness the power of social media to let the world know what you’re about to unveil.

Online consumers love watching videos. And why shouldn’t they? After all, there is something really engaging about seeing content rather than looking at it on banners or reading about it in a magazine. Create a product video to establish a personal connection between your product and intended audience.

The type of product you have dictates the kind of video you’ll make. For example, women’s shoes might showcase a well-known model taking a stroll on the side-walk. If you’re about to release a mobile app which keeps track of your fitness level, you might advertise an uber-fight man running or lifting weights while keeping track of his exercise regimen or calories burned.

You could also make a personal video where you’re speaking to your social media following about the upcoming product.

Checkout this video from DollarShaveClub.com:

Contests

Social media contests are a highly effective means of engaging your audience, in addition to building loyalty and brand awareness.

Before your launch, get your audience involved in the launch process even if they are unaware of what’s in store for them. A contest is a good way of enticing your audience just enough to spark interest without giving away too much.

Credit: Dunkin Donuts
Credit: Dunkin Donuts

Twitter and Facebook are quite receptive to contests, so that’s a good place to start.

Brand Advocates

Pre-launch is the optimal time to get as many audience members involved as possible. Your brand advocates need access to a channel through which they can access exclusive information about the soon-to-be-launched product which is when Twitter lists, Google+ Communities and Facebook groups can be utilized.

Sync it All With a Hashtag

Use a hashtag to round up all your brand-related activities. It’s uniqueness means that audiences can easily identify you and share all your content across a variety of social media channels. A hashtag facilitates conversations revolving around your product right before launch.

Credit: Clif Bar
Credit: Clif Bar

Talking about an upcoming product and creating hype is a highly crucial aspect of social media marketing done right.

What to do Post-launch

Once your product is launched, there’s a crucial window of opportunity you just don’t want to miss.

Focus on Numbers

You must be very diligent when it comes to collecting numbers to know how the audience is responding to your marketing efforts. Numbers such as:

  • Number of Fans & Followers
  • Engagement percentage on your posts and tweets.
  • A sublist of people who opted in as brand ambassadors
  • Which hashtag performed better?

 Work on Future Launch Plans

Try not to sit on your success for too long: set a date for the next launch which might open up a range of new and exciting possibilities.

This is a chance to improve your overall process, fix or change approaches that didn’t work well the last time, and improve overall organization and scheduling. This way, you can foresee some of the challenges that lie ahead, especially since you’ve collected plenty of data in advance.

Here are some benefits of running this drill:

  • You’re in a better position to understand what needs optimizing and when to schedule events – in the end, you’re looking at better conversions.
  • It’s a chance to find partners.
  • It lets you plan content strategy accordingly, knowing what audiences responded to previously.
  • And, the opportunity to build a stronger more trustworthy relationship with your users presents itself.

Bonus Tip:
You can also take advantage of these really great social media management tools:

  1. Engagor
  2. SocialCentiv
  3. Sociota
  4. Livecube
  5. Offerpop
  6. Notify
  7. Bottle Nose
  8. Crimson Hexagon
  9. Cyber Alert
  10. Social Cast

I hope these practices will prove to be beneficial for your business. Let me know your thoughts about it and if there is any tool or tip that I missed out, do share in the comment section.

Ian Blair

BuildFire Co-Founder. I'm a digital marketer by trade and an entrepreneur at heart. I'm here to help businesses go mobile and build apps more efficiently than before.

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