How to start engaging with your online audiences

Social media is the perfect place to reach out to your target audience and start conversations with your customers and prospects. After all, the people who buy your products and utilise your services are inevitably active at least one of the main social media networks.

This begs several questions, which I’m frequently asked, such as how do I reach my target customers? How do I know who my ideal customers are? Which channels do they prefer?

So what is social media engagement and why is it important?

Let’s break it down into three areas:

  • Social Media Research
  • Customer Personas
  • Different Types of Engagement

Social Media Research

Some people think that the best plan of attack when it comes to social media marketing is to spread themselves thinly across every social network. This definitely isn’t the case.

Don’t waste your time and effort on the social networks your customers and prospects AREN’T using! A little bit of research goes a long way, and it doesn’t need to be super in-depth either.

The easiest way to find out where your customers and prospects are hanging out online is to ask them. Spark up a conversation with your in-store questions and find out which social networks they use. Another way is to create a short online survey using one of the many tools out there (SurveyMonkey is one of the simplest to use) and see how your customers and prospects are utilising social media.

In addition, be prepared to have a quick look through all the available online research that’s out there relating to social media user demographics. In a short space of time, you can find out which social networks appeal to certain age groups, genders, and personas.

Customer Personas

Customer personas are created using raw marketing data and educated guesses and are used to help better identify and relate with your target audience.

They represent different slices of your audience and provide you with a fantastic way to craft content that really resonates with your audience. And content that resonates engages your customers and prospects.

For example, if you write a blog post with a particular customer in mind, chances are it will strike a chord with them. When this happens your blog post is more likely to get likes, comments, and shares on social media – all of which help boost your organic reach.

Between three and five different personas should be enough to cover your entire audience. All you’ve got to do is create them.

Here’s what each of your personas should contain:

  • Name
  • Job title
  • Demographics
    • age
    • gender
    • salary
    • location
    • education
    • family
  • Goals and challenges
  • Values and fears
  • Marketing message
  • Elevator pitch

This free persona template on the HubSpot blog will give you everything you need to get your customer personas created and your marketing messages focused accordingly.

Types of Engagement

What types of engagement do you want to cultivate? Likes, retweets/shares, link clicks, mentions/comments are all types of engagement, but they achieve different purposes.

If you want to spread the word about a new product or service then retweets and shares are probably what you want. Comments are great when you’re in search of information or simply want to get an online conversation going. While link clicks are all about driving traffic to your website.

Here’s my KISS (keep it simple stupid) rule of social media updates:

Last year, when I ran my Social Media Workshop on Social Media Listening and Engaging in Conversation, we went through a variety of tactics and tools you can use to become better at engaging with your audiences.

Don’t forget that social media isn’t just for finding new customers. That’s why it’s important not to exclude other groups like current customers, partners, influencers or business friends from your communication.

Do you have any questions about engaging with your audiences on social media? Let me know in comments or tweet me at @lenkakopp.

If you want to learn more about Twitter engagement, check out my older article Twitter automation vs engagement.