Narrowing Your Audience: Be Clear to Connect

One of the key decisions that communicators must make is how to segment their audience. Segmenting is basically dividing the overall audience into groups–or segments–that share commonalities so that they can be targeted more specifically. For instance, if you’re a health care organization, you could segment your audience into: women and men. You might further segment the women into audiences of: women of child-bearing age, pre-menopausal women, menopausal women, elderly women. Even among these audiences there might be some need to further segment.

There are (at least) two key points to consider about segmentation:

  • There are no “right” or “wrong” answers in terms of how you will segment–different organizations often choose different approaches
  • Your segmentation decisions will be driven by how and what you wish to communicate with these audience segments

Segmentation has always been a key consideration for communicators. Social media, though, brings added emphasis–and importance–to the need to segment, and the benefits of doing so appropriately. A recent conversation with a potential client drove home this point.

This potential client represents a very large organization with very diverse markets across several professions. They are hoping to connect with their markets through social media and, initially, were thinking of sites on Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+ all designed to drive traffic to their web site. But, as I reviewed their web site, considered their target audiences and considered how social media could be most effectively used to create effective communities, it became clear that a combined approach would not be best.

Why? Because when you attempt to speak to multiple audiences you’re really not speaking to anyone.

The key with communication of any kind–but I think this becomes even more obvious in social media channels–is ensuring that you are sharing information and generating conversations around topics that members of the audience are interested in. If your audience is too diverse, it becomes very challenging to come up with content that will appeal to them. I’ve definitely found this to be the case with our own social media efforts as well as the accounts we manage for clients. Attempt to connect with “everyone” and you will connect with “no one.”

Clearly, then, the challenge becomes identifying the most important segments to connect with in an attempt to use your resources (time and money) effectively. Segment too narrowly and you may find yourself spread too thin and spending far too much to engage with far too few. Segment too broadly and you may spend less time, but you’re also less likely to gain traction among a large following.

If you’ve been struggling to build a following on social media, consider how you’ve segmented your audience. Who are you talking to and to what extent do they have shared interests? The more focused your audience, the more focused your communications can be and, the greater results you’ll generate. Try it!

Recommended Reading:

Market Segmentation: How To Do It and How To Profit From It

The New Rules of Marketing and PR

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