Or, How My Husband Started A Boat.
There is this lake house and there is this boat. And this boat has been on my husband's mind for quite some time. This lake house isn't ours and this boat isn't ours. But, this boat has been on my husband's mind for quite some time.
And the other morning, while we were on vacation, he tried to start it up. Tried to figure out why it wasn't working. Tried to figure out if it was the battery, the starter, the motor, or the user. He researched, he fiddled, he tried to start it again.
After he felt he had exhausted all other avenues, he finally got the boat to start.
I find that connecting to your target audience can sometimes be like this stubborn little boat that won't spark. In some cases, it may take several tries to really cultivate the brand's niche and use that to connect to their target market. One way to cut your fiddling in half is to identify your target audience quickly by tracking their online engagement on your social platforms. But how do you do this effectively? How do you do this without feeling like you're taking a shot in the dark? How do you turn your content creation into target practice? Below you'll find five of my favorite ways to figure out how to make an impact and connect with your target audience:
1) Ask Questions
Asking targeted and specific questions in your social posts can help you find out what your target market likes, follows, shares. Twitter has a polling feature now that you can use to help you really hone your content and brand - though the responses to these have been mixed, I have found that Buffer and Social Quant have recently joined those that are figuring out new ways to experiment with them.
2) Study Your Audience Trends
Is your audience sharing your videos? Is your audience commenting on your blog post? Is your audience engaging with memes or GIFs? Follow your audience's groups and start noticing what they post/share/re-share. Take advantage of being "in the know" with your target market and use this information to help you curate and create quality content for them. There is a great feature on Facebook that you can use to search a demographic and find out what other interests they have.
3) Use Quotes
Find quotes that help reflect your brand story but also give your brand and business that personal edge. Using imagery and quotes (like Canva or Pablo for Buffer) can help you figure out if your audience is interested, engaged, and committed to sharing your brand story and becoming your brand advocate. You'll know (pretty quickly) more about your target audience based on which graphics that get the most attention.
4) Test Your Content
I like to gauge what the audience is connecting with by writing a really great blog post for my clients, sharing that to their social, and tracking the engagement they get out of it. If the post does well organically, I will boost these posts to get an even wider net. This helps me identify what topics their audience likes or doesn't like - and then I'll tailor my marketing to those themes.
5) Be Specific
Making sure that you are being specific and niche with your content, your marketing strategy, and the way you deliver both will help you get the most valuable insight. I often hear businesses (especially small, mom-and-pop shops) tell me that they are worried to niche themselves too much. They're afraid that they'll 'miss out' on selling to everyone else, or they're afraid it'll look like they're ignoring other demographics. They're afraid to lose business if they niche themselves down. I have found, time and again, that being able to get really specific with your brand and your story only helps your business in the long-run.
Treating your content creation like target practice means that connecting to your target audience gets easier and easier the more you do it. Just like my husband found with the boat - the more you tinker and the more honed in that tinkering gets, the likelier you are to get the results you want. Show the world that no-one knows your business like you do and that you can connect to your audience like only you can do with a content strategy that works.
The biggest joy I get out of doing what I do is being able to get to really know each business and what makes them unique - and use their story and their brand to showcase their capabilities to world wide interwebs.
(Or "Life Lessons From The Snowy Slopes")
I didn't learn to ski until I was about 11 years old. We went up to the mountains north of Tucson, my mom put an edgy-wedgy on the tips of my skis claiming that they would help me learn (but, really, this was the first in many life lessons about self-esteem that I would experience as I reached puberty). I want to say she pushed me down the hill and crossed her fingers, but that didn't happen. She skied right beside me, patiently showing me how to pizza-french fries-pizza-french fries my way down the bunny hill. She invested in ski lessons. She coached me throughout my childhood over and over and over again. Her patience and endurance in trying to teach me how to ski must have been out of this world. I don't know how she put up with me.
Because, I was a nightmare,
I was terrified of falling, impatient to be an expert after one lesson, angry that I couldn't just "get it", embarrassed when I fell down. I was a snotty pre-teen. I didn't want to wear my mother's old skiing outfit from the 70s. I most certainly didn't want to be encapsulated by an enormous puffy jacket that made me look like StayPuft Jr.
We would have ski trips throughout my middle school years where we'd drive up north into the mountains and visit the small ski resorts where my technique would have the chance to grow. Each time we went, my mother would gently push me to go farther, do one more run, take the next turn a little faster. She let me try out snowboarding (the most EPIC fail since I was scared to even get off the lift and it had to be stopped so I could get down).
It's this same "practice-makes-better" mentality that my mother instilled in me with learning how to ski. Little by little, I figured out how to turn and take the hills faster, how to swish around in deep powder, how to dip and bend. I felt beautiful skiing downhill. I felt confident. I felt alive.
It's this same practice that I applied to my early days of social media management and digital marketing. The very first steps, I needed guidance and tip-toed myself, step-by-step, into more experienced territory.
When I started my business, I was shown the basic SEO ropes by a friend who had been doing social media marketing for a while. And then, I watched webinars, participated in local events, purchased ebooks and followed major influencers. I purchased online courses and started to push myself to expand my skills. I made these social platforms into one big experiment to prove to myself I knew what I could do and do it well.
Now, I feel like a practiced downhill skier. Confident. Capable. Comfortable. From taking the green slope and managing a simple Facebook account or skiing down the double black diamond of a national lead generation or email marketing campaign, the skills that I continue to acquire can only add to my previous experience.
I am only as good as I push myself to be.
And I want to push myself farther.
Meg is the owner of Oh Hello Digital and, when she's not writing for her clients, she'll take time to share her digital marketing insights and advice here. Want to connect with her? 👇