A Guide to Creating and Targeting Your Custom Audience

When it comes to your marketing messaging, ensuring that you’re talking to the right people makes a big difference. Understanding the voice of the customer means knowing precisely who your audience segments are.

Here, we’ll explore creating and targeting your custom audience with a focus on:

  • Why custom audiences are essential
  • Keeping your audiences engaged
  • Social media do’s and don’ts for audience engagement
  • Audience growth tactics for brands

Below, you’ll find a few marketing statistics that highlight the importance of getting to know your audience:

  • 61% of consumers are more willing to purchase from brands with unique marketing styles and content.
  • 45% of customers will unfollow a brand on social media over irrelevant content.
  • Using behavioral data, demographic and psychographic data to target your custom audience is critical to maximizing the impact of your brand messaging. 76% of marketers fail to do so effectively.

Knowing who your audience is and where they are speaking is a great start. Getting granular from there allows you to find what drives your audience, so you can target them most effectively. Social listening takes the pain out of the process and gives focus to your messaging.

For example, if your brand finds its users to be big fans of video streaming services, you need to find where to focus your efforts, so you’re not wasting your marketing budget speaking to an empty room.

sources for channel conversation

Video streaming services conversation, showing users talking in largest numbers on Reddit, Twitter and Tumblr. 6/2/20-6/2/21

Why Custom Audiences are Essential

Using your social listening tools to create custom audiences is a brilliant way to squeeze every ounce of value from your market research analyses. Understanding your audience means knowing their pain points, what they love, where they’re speaking, product affinities, demographic intel, and much more.

Social media analytics allow you to crosscut brand conversations, product topics, and any other social media topic to fully digest the nature of the consumers talking within a subset. That intel will enable you to create messaging that focuses in the right online locations, and with relevant content.

And that means you’re spending your marketing dollars where they’re likely to have the most impact. Additionally, since you know who the consumers are and what their interests and needs happen to be, you can create much more targeted content that speaks directly to them.

You might find authors within a relevant brand conversation earning lots of traction with users you want to target. You can save their followers as an audience, save it as a theme and apply it to any analysis you create to find them speaking within it. That’s just one example – the sky is the limit, really. Brands can build custom audiences around anything that stands out in your social listening analyses, such as behaviors, attitudes, demographics, life stages, purchase intent, occasions, benefits sought, interests, influences, and on and on:

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Applying these as themes on any analysis you run ensures you always know how your target audiences respond to the subjects that matter to your brand. And that means you can adjust your messaging to target them specifically at any time. It’s a game-changer and essential to your consumer intelligence.

Keeping Custom Audiences Engaged

Naturally, consumers tend to regard brands and institutions as the singular corporate entities that they are. In other words, it’s very easy for brands to lose any semblance of humanity in consumers’ eyes. The old saying goes, if you want to catch a fish, you must think like a fish.

That said, your consumers are human beings and respond well when brands show their human side and reflect the values that they hold dear. That’s no problem if you’ve got custom audience intel in your hand. That means you already know what gets your audience engaged and how they feel about any topic.

One of the best things you can do to drive consumer engagement around your brand is through story. It’s ingrained in our DNA from time immemorial through song, literature, theater, and word of mouth.

Therefore, you can use your social listening tools to uncover human interest stories that align with your consumers’ values and highlight them. You don’t have to push your product with every single social media post. Give them something. Stories are free.

Engaging with brand storytelling eliminates the feeling they’re getting marketed to every time your social channel floats across their screen. It drives interest and leaves them feeling that you’ve taken the time to provide value to them. It drives engagement because you’re creating more of a balance between product marketing and human interest. And they’ll trust you more for doing so.

GoPro and Patagonia are two great examples of brands seeking out and telling the stories of interest to their target audiences. Their social feeds and marketing hit different with users because they know they’ll not only find the products they want but the added value of exciting stories as well.

 

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Social Media Do’s and Don’ts for Audience Engagement

Once you’ve uncovered your custom audience’s interests and values, you can use those to create content curated to drive their interest and boost engagement. But it’s essential to do so tastefully and not blitzkrieg their social feeds with content overload. This is especially risky if you’ve just gotten the hang of custom audience intel.

Develop a plan and begin by introducing new content and let your audience try it on for size. Let them get comfortable with the new things that you’re seeking to target. It’s easy for brands to go crazy here because they can get nearsighted by looking at the world in quarterly movement.

Your consumers don’t think that way, so don’t drop too much on them at once. Also, switch your photos up across platforms. Often, consumers may follow a brand on several different platforms, so if they’re seeing the exact same post on three different platforms over the course of a day, it can lead to boredom. Switch things up a little, especially your photo content.

Another area to think hard about is social justice initiatives. They’re everywhere, and brands that chase them all become yawn-inducing in the eyes of the consumer.

Use your custom audience analysis to understand the initiatives that they care about most – and choose to invest in and create meaningful posts towards those topics. Best of all, contribute to the cause in some form and talk about that with your social media when it’s most timely. That shows your audience that you’re not just another brand talking the talk but not walking the walk.

Using your custom audience as a theme is incredibly impactful to your market research. Find movements, emerging trends or initiatives that impact them the most and then analyze that topic. Then apply your audience theme to understand authors, domains, attributes, emotions, sentiment, events, nonprofits, etc., that you can speak to with your brand messaging.

Choosing a few relevant causes to highlight throughout the year removes your brand from the constant cycle of brands that jump on everything. Consumers have noticed that brands do this, and it lessens the impact. Quality over quantity goes a long way with social justice issues and emerging trends, and your audience will thank you for it.

Audience Growth Tactics for Brands

Once you’ve dialed into your custom audience, you’re really onto something special. To keep it growing, consistency is king. Let your consumers know what to expect from your social feeds and keep it coming. Make it unique, aligned to their interests and while you’re at it, tell their stories too.

While you’re working with audience customization, note what resonates with them across different social platforms. Change up your content accordingly. Make them want to follow you on Twitter – and Instagram – and TikTok, etc. If all your feeds are the same, it’s boring. You can tell stories on Instagram, do a giveaway on Facebook, and do branded duets with your fans on TikTok to reach your Gen Z audience. Get creative, and you’ll drive audience growth like nobody’s business. It’s critical to stand out.

And you know what’s extra special about finally understanding who your audience is? You can use all of that intel to plug into your Facebook custom audiences and Google AdWords custom affinity audience tools to create custom ad targeting that hits with precision. That way, you already know who is after your content or products, and you get in front of the people who are most likely to love your brand.

Is your brand missing the mark with your custom audiences? Reach out for a demo, and we’ll show you how world-class social media analytics tools can illuminate your target audience and help you grow your brand engagement.

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