As I was analyzing the online audience of a recent brand, I discovered that its Twitter audience and Facebook audience were incredibly different. Any good community manager could have called it, but the rest of brand team could not. They weren’t in the trenches having the conversations with the fans on both platforms every day.
The gap between the day-to-day social media staff members and the brand management team reminded me how important it is to have internal feedback loops built into your marketing effort so that no stone is left unturned in analyzing and optimizing your marketing.
A brand manager, VP for marketing and event a C-level executive should know how a brand’s audiences vary from network to network. Better yet, when there is a vast difference between who your audience is online and what audience you’re targeting, some deeper internal discussions need to happen.
I’ve encountered brand managers in the past who were insistent that they know their target audience. They refuse to acknowledge any data that refutes their understanding of who buys, who uses or who talks about their brand. Sometimes they’re right. I’ve met a few, however, who were wrong. They weren’t managing their respective brand much longer.
Your Targeting May Not Be Off
But when a demographic profile of one’s Twitter or Facebook audience doesn’t match step-for-step with your primary target, it doesn’t necessarily mean your targeting is off. Here’s why:
The people talking about your brand may not be the people who buy your brand. Or, the people who talk about your brand online may not be the audience of influencers who persuade others to buy your brand offline.
This is why social analytics alone cannot fuel major swings in brand strategy. These assertions need to be confirmed with other, more traditional research. Focus groups, buying data, trends among your target consumers, influencer analysis (on- and off-line), all add up to the pool of knowledge you need to make these types of decisions.
“social analytics alone cannot fuel
major swings in brand strategy”
But social conversations are a great place to start. If you’re performing conversational research on your brand, you have the opportunity to gut-check who you’re communicating with, whether or not you’re successful in that communication and understand what other audiences or influencers are also paying attention.
The brand in my earlier analysis had about a 50-50 gender split on Twitter, but two-thirds of its Facebook audience were women. It happens that this brand’s core target is male. While the Facebook data on who’s talking about them isn’t alone enough to force a switch in brand targeting, it certainly is enough to warrant further investigation, validation and analysis.
Maybe – just maybe – the brand is focused on the wrong target audience. But maybe they’re just fine because the men they target fuel conversations from and with the women who happen to talk more about brands and products in that category.
My recommendation is to use conversation research as a starting point for your curiosity, then let the data guide you. Confirm, validate, refute or adjust based on more analysis of online conversations, adding in some focus groups or survey instruments and perhaps reviewing industry data for the product category.
Social media conversations may be the only place your targeting seems awry. But if they are, it’s at least worth considering perhaps there’s more to it than what you might think.