Understanding who your audience–and isn’t–is critical for many reasons, but I’m going to focus on your being able to start blogging and using social media. Until you know who you are, you and your brand will be flailing to try to determine who your product or service will appeal to. Every day on all platforms, there are startups and brands who have the “shotgun” approach, who say that “everyone” is their target market. And we’ve all heard that “if everyone is your target market, then no one is” thought before. So where to start?
Use something like Survey Monkey to ask your already-existing clients or friends what they think of your brand. A short survey of 3-4 questions (perhaps with a reward for finishing) could be very useful. For instance, “What one idea comes to mind when you think of our company?”
You might also want to ask your employees what they would change about the company, as Matthew Evins suggests in his excellent article Before Rebranding: Five Questions to Gauge Your Brand Health. As he says, simply asking the question raises morale. And who wouldn’t want to work somewhere with high morale? Of course if you’d rather have a demoralizing environment, you could read Startups: Ten Ways to Demotivate Employees.
For the more serious, Dorie Clark, the author of Reinventing You and a marketing strategy consultant, suggests the Personal 360 Interview, where you ask key people who work with you to provide anonymous feedback. You could provide a list of traits that people circle, such as “creative,” “generous,” etc. as one of the questions.
For a comprehensive list of why to conduct a 360 Review, here is a fab Guide to 360 Reviews. This guide is meant for an individual, but could be applied to an organization as well.
The Best-Laid Plans
Like a person, a business is an organic, living thing, and changes from time to time. The goals and resolutions you had as a 12-year-old kid won’t be the same resolutions you have as an adult. Why would a business be any different? Speaking of resolutions, here are my latest post, resolutions for social media.
Authenticity in Words and Actions
Once you have a clear idea of what your brand is, creating the target audience for your brand should be much simpler. That means that the words you use in tweets, posts, and blogging should be consistent. Having a list of words to pull from, as well as those you won’t use, can be enormously helpful. Even if your brand consists of you (if you are the brand), you need to figure out who you are. Maria Brophy has a post about saying who you are in 5 words.
Are you the same person online as offline? Do your actions match the attributes you want your brand to have? For instance, if one of your attributes is generosity, is your brand consistently being generous day in and day out? If you say you are about integrity, does everyone who work for you have it? You certainly don’t want your brand to be thought of as ironic.
Questions for the Small Brand
If you head up a small company, spending a day or two once a year to discover or rediscover who your audience is can be enormously useful. For example, is your product or service expensive? What kind of person buys your product? Is your target customer local or can they be located anywhere? Is there a target age or range to your ideal client? You may not know who your target market is quite yet, but over time you’ll start to see patterns emerge. Reviewing questions like these once a year can help you become more focused on your social media and blogging so that your tweets, posts, and pins reflect something appealing to your target audience.
Choose Another Company to Model
Some small brands like to choose a slightly larger company to model themselves after. Often I’ll hear “make our Pinterest look like their Pinterest” or “we like the tweets from ABC company.”
When you have that target audience narrowed down, you can hand that list of attributes to your social media manager.