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  • Writer's picturekaren paterson

10 steps to reach your audience

  1. Are you worried that everyone seems to know more about social media marketing than you do?

  2. Are you starting out with social media and feel you don’t know where to start?

I have felt this and had many conversations with senior leaders about this very topic and the weight of responsibility they feel.

If you are a senior leader and have had this experience, I have written this article for you. It covers the first stage of identifying your audience(s). I am writing further articles about implementing your plans once you know who your audience is.

I hope you find it useful.

So, where to start? I suggest the easiest place to start is to think about extending some of your existing products and services to new customers. That way, you can use your knowledge of your existing customers to build a profile of your new target customers, while your organisation builds its confidence and knowledge of using social media.

I offer this 10-step method to reach your audiences with social media (steps marked in the bullet points below).


First you will need to build a picture of your potential customers. So, I suggest:

  • You start with what you know. If you haven’t already, build a profile of your existing customers; including their likes and dislikes, complaints, positive feedback and suggestions.

  • Then question what you think you know. Go back to your overall marketing plan and messages and check if there are any gaps in your positioning when compared to what your customer profiles tell you about existing customers. What needs to change?

  • Focus your attention. When you start out with social media, it is best to test your approach with a smaller, targeted audience groups. Then focus on conversations and groups that share characteristics with your existing customers.

  • Decide what you want from your social media engagement. Ask yourself, “who is my audience for this project, service or product?”, “what do I want to learn from them?”, “what do we think they want from me/us?”

  • Get real feedback from the coalface. Ask staff what customers tell them about why they buy from you. Encourage staff to share their ideas for reaching new customers, based on their knowledge of existing ones.

Quick tip: online quizzes, creativity hubs (for collecting and rating staffs’ ideas) are great ways to draw on the knowledge and imagination of your organisation and recognise staff whose ideas are taken up.

Build a persona of your most likely new customers. Look at the needs of individuals as well as how they are influenced in their purchasing decisions by the ‘tribes’ they belong to. This is particularly important with social media. Think about the last time you booked a holiday. Did you first check out the reviews of other travellers before making your choice? Your customers are likely to do the same before buying your product or service.

Develop your strategy. Using the knowledge gained from the previous steps, develop your social media engagement strategy and content plan (allowing for refinements once you have implemented it).

Quick Tip: I find it easiest to imagine a customer I know well and build my persona around them. So, I have a ‘Melanie’ profile for my social media strategy service. This gives me a more real and valuable persona to target. As I engage, I add information from the feedback I get, so the persona builds as my engagement builds.

Once you have completed these seven steps, you are ready to prime the engine of your first social media campaign.

Prime the engine

  • Look at your own social media use. What are the apps you use most often? How do you use social media in a personal capacity? If your research directs you to Facebook to engage new customers and you use it now, it will be easier to understand how to engage with this platform than if you’d never used it.

  • Check your organisation’s digital maturity. A quick poll of your staff will uncover the social media apps they are most familiar with. This helps identify who can contribute stories and ideas to your campaign (when using the same or similar apps). Having staff share and like your organisation’s stories extends your reach.

Quick Tip: given the professional video that can be created from a smartphone, I have found it useful to seek out budding filmmakers and photographers in your staff. I did this for a company forum in which each business division had to provide an update of their work. It turns out one of the technical field officers was a keen videographer and the standing ovation they got for their presentation was proof positive of the value of seeking out creativity from within.
  • Setup your social media monitoring listening to find out what’s being discussed and to identify the topics you can contribute to. There are many professional reviews of these products online.

I personally use Brand24 for social media monitoring and listening, and a mix of Loomly and Metigy for social media content planning and publishing. I checked the reviews and tested some products before making my choice.

Rev up!

Now’s the exciting part, where you establish your social media presence, and you implement your social media strategy, having completed your essential preparation.

Start drafting the topics you will have listed in the content planning part of your social media strategy. Some ideas are:

  • Quick tips – for getting the most from product X to achieve Y goal

  • Stories – of customer experiences with your product or service

  • Quizzes – test your knowledge about topic Z (e.g. customer management), what is your leadership style, what marketing method works best

  • Social impact – particularly where your organisation is actively involved in and contributes to national movements like ‘White Ribbon Day’, the ‘Are you OK?’ campaign and others.

  • Staff stories – where staff have contributed to the social impact movements you are a part of and what matters to them (so you are showing your organisation’s values through your staffs’ stories).


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