By the time you finish reading this sentence, there will be 700 new posts on FaceBook. Before the end of the day, there will be 1 million new tweets. With more than 1.9 billion Internet users world wide (RoyalPingdom.com, June 2010), watching millions of videos, creating millions of blogs and updating posts, status updates, and comments on a daily basis, finding your target audience in the sea of social media can feel overwhelming.
Stop. Take a deep breath. And realize that in order to be successful on the social web, you do not have to be everything to everyone. Or everywhere for that matter. In fact, no one can conquer every social space. There is simply too much information flowing every second. So rather than trying to tackle every social network at once, focus on the handful of social spaces where your target audience is most active.
As you start using social media to find and communicate with different audiences, you will quickly discover that some social networks provide more immediate benefit to your overall goals than others. You may also learn that it can take a combination of many social networks to promote your message most efficiently. And because online communications are extremely measurable and trackable, the more you listen and engage on the different social networks, the more you will be able to refine your efforts to maximize efficiency and attain your desired goals.
On any social network site such as Twitter and LinkedIn, you can easily search by keywords to find people in your target audience. Search by topic, or job function, or company name and you’ll be presented with a list of tweets, profiles, pages, groups and so on. Once you identify where your target audience is, take some time to listen.
Think of joining a new social networking group as stepping into a cocktail party where you don’t know anyone. You wouldn’t start loudly announcing your business and latest projects the second you stepped foot in the door. That would not only be rude, but a complete “turn off” to all the other guests. Instead, take smaller steps. Listen. Ask questions. Find out who the key influencers are in that group and get in their good graces. Also pay attention to how the group talks, lingo they use, how they interact with each other. You want to fit in.
Never hard sell your business. Instead, contribute meaningful information that your target audience is seeking. Encourage dialogue that helps position you as a knowledgeable person in your industry and as someone who cares about others thoughts, problems, concerns and opinions. Through this type of engagement and understanding of the audiences, you will be more likely to capture the right kind of attention, along with trust and loyalty. And if you are lucky, your target audience will find you!
For more insight into Finding and Engaging Your Target Audience on the Social Web, look for Holly Berkley’s upcoming book “Social Media in Action…” with ZweigWhite Publishing and Amanda Walter due out this Fall 2011.