The roadmap to a successful social media strategy begins with research. Research helps identify what social media tactics are right for your business.
Your social media roadmap begins with research. Research helps identify what social media tactics are right for your business. Conducting research will help you choose the right social media channels, know what type of content you need to create, and give you ideas now how to engage with your community. Here are some guiding questions to help you get started.
Getting to Know your Target Audience - Guiding Questions.
- What social media platforms do they use?
- What kind of posts are they sharing?
- What posts do they like?
- What kind of comments are they making? i.e. Neutral, positive, negative
- How frequently are they on each channel?
- Is there a time of day they are more active than others?
- What type of content do they prefer? i.e. video, text, graphics, infographics.
Get to know what people expect when they join social media communities.
In offline communities, there are different expectations of the styles of conversations, such as business compared to personal. In online communities, such as social media, there are also different styles of conversations. LinkedIn is a professional platform where thought-leadership content and discussions are shared. On a platform like TikTok, audiences expect a light-hearted, or fun, style of conversations. To get even more specific, the particular audience on each platform may be more specific in their preferences. For example, on LinkedIn security professionals may have expectations on the type of content that should be shared within their compared to say, fashion consultants.
Types of Research
"Primary research is asking your target audience questions or making observations to gather firsthand information."
When conducting primary research, make sure you are transparent in what you are going to do with the information you collect and always ask for your participants' permission. It is important to respect your participants' privacy and adhere to data collection regulations. Getting help from a professional can be invaluable in helping create questions, managing the research, and putting together the data in a meaningful and objective way.
- Surveys - this may be done through your contact list, or you can hire a research company to survey their database.
- Interviews - have a set of key questions and ask a number of your target audience.
- Conversations (e.g. with long time customers, colleagues who may be your target audience) - make sure you are talking with someone who can be objective and honest.
- Polls - if you already have a large social media following and you are trying to learn more about how to personalize your content, you can ask them via your social media accounts using polls. Not only will you find the information you seek, but your audience will most likely enjoy the opportunity to engage with them.
- Focus Groups - Bring together a small group that represents your target audience to get to see what they think about your messaging, brand images, ad copy, and test some product ideas.
"Secondary research is collecting information about your target audience from existing research."
Social Media Trend Reports
Several organizations publish social media trend reports, including brandwatch.com and socialmediaexaminer.com. There are many reports done on social media trends. Whatever you reference, consider the following to ensure the quality and relevance of the Research.
- Is it applicable to what you need for your business (e.g. is the audience surveyed similar to your target audience)?
- What is the researcher's reputation in its industry?
- Where did they get their information (e.g. is it from the country you serve)?
- What is the size of the audience surveyed (e.g. is it adequate to represent the trends of this audience)?
- When was the research done; is it current?
Social Media - Websites and Blogs
Research to find out what is new and what is on the development roadmap, which will help you understand how you will be able to use the platform for your business. There are software developers who stay up-to-date with the developments of each of the platforms and often post blogs on the latest new features and what future developments.
For example, Hootsuite is a social media scheduling tool that posts blogs on social media news and best practices. Here is a blog from Hootsuite on Facebook groups which not only talks about the new group features but offers tips and trends on how businesses are using groups. This type of information may help you decide whether or not you will invest your time to build a Facebook community and leverage groups as one of your tactics.
Online forums, such as Reddit and Quora, provide a question and answer opportunity for communities to share and learn. The offer topic categories, where you can learn more about your target audience. The information collected on these forums offers insights.
- What types of questions they are asking which can help identify keyword or phrases for marketing?
- What challenges are they having that your product/service can solve?
- What type of answers are people posting as solutions to these questions?
- What style of language are they using?
- Do they talk about how they gather information? Offer opinions on different social media platforms?
Hashtags represent topics of interest to people. Go onto the social media platform you are considering and search on the topic hashtags that are relevant to your business. Take note of who is talking about that topic, and what they are saying. Start using these hashtags in posts and then comment/ask questions of the community that follows these topics.
What are your competitor's doing on social? What platforms are they using? What posts are getting engagement? Get inspired! What can you do better? What gap are they missing? Looking at other pages can help you get ideas, and then run with it. Once you get started, your audience and data from the social media platform will be the source of inspiration and insight on how to build your community.
If you would like more information on how to conduct target audience research to help develop your social media strategy, please let me know. - Laura