How Social Media Listening Complements Demographic Targeting

Carol Feigenbaum |
 02/17/16 |
3 min read


Demographic targeting is quick to gather and implement, while psychographic data gleaned from real-time social media monitoring offers greater dimension of consumer emotions.

Your digital marketing strategy needs both, and here’s why:

Demographics are the foundation of effective social media listening

To forge emotional connections with your audience, you need to engage consumers on a personal level.  But you need to know who your audience is as a group before you can start thinking about who they are as individuals.

Just as you wouldn’t plan the route of a trip without looking at a map of the entire area you need to travel, demographics provide the context for going deeper into the preferences of your audience. Without demographics as a guide, delving into psychographics – the thoughts, feelings and behaviors of social users – is a bit like searching for a needle in a haystack.

When you use demographics as a jumping off point for your campaigns, you at least know you’re on track for your destination. And then when you go “off-roading” in search of psychographic commonalities, you won’t get hopelessly lost.

And that’s good – because demographics alone don’t provide enough information for consumers to feel like brands “get” them.

Psychographic targeting delights consumers

And that’s one downside of demographics – they’re limiting. For example, demographics might tell a brand that teens tend to use emojis, causing them to start using emojis in its campaigns. Without understanding the context of emoji use, or understanding what the emojis even mean, this is destined to fail.

But it happens all the time, this presumption of understanding. It’s how Steve Buscemi’s 30 Rock appearance (“How do you do, fellow kids?”) became a meme. The worst part is, it results in brands alienating their audience instead of deepening the relationship.

That’s why psychographics matter so much. Digging into the behaviors, feelings, and language of their audience gives brands the “in” they need with social users.

So in the example above, applying real-time social media monitoring and a tool like our Slanguage tracker to gain a true understanding of the audience, using emojis becomes a viable option. To promote a new liquid lipstick, a brand could create a segment targeting college-age girls who use certain emojis while talking positively about Sephora.

So does that mean psychographics are more important? Not necessarily. Let’s look at Facebook to better understand how the two data pools work together.

Demographics are the key to Facebook topic data

Starting February 11 NetBase began giving customers access to the anonymous, aggregated data of over 1.5 billion Facebook users.

For the first time, marketers can discover the people behind the likes and comments across all of Facebook. Until now, social media listening on Facebook has been limited to two things: brands’ own audience insights, and their dedication to aggressively stalking other brands’ pages.

With Facebook topic data, competitive analysis just got easier. If, for example, a concentration of New York men start responding negatively to Old Spice, it’s not just the brand itself that can analyze this data.

Any men’s fragrance company can now use this information to look for micro-segments on other social networks and see what common threads exist for men dissatisfied with Old Spice. Then they can create individualized messaging for those varying segments to really reach them.

Understanding the people that make up their competitors’ audiences – who they are, and how they react to different marketing approaches – allows brands to improve their own campaigns by learning from others’ mistakes. On the flipside, if there’s something their competitors are doing well on Facebook, they’ll know about it. In real-time.

The future of audience marketing

So which is more important, demographics or psychographics? The answer is both. Demographic targeting enables a broad overview of trends, clueing brands in to where to apply psychographics to find micro-segments. Though neither is perfect on their own, the two approaches complement each other.

Thus brands need to use both. If they do, they’ll gain insights their competitors miss, and will develop a reputation among consumers for consistently engaging in ways they love.

Want to be the first to try our new Facebook topic data dashboard? Get in touch to arrange your demo!

Image from MAMJODH



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