With 7 out of every 10 Americans using social media on a regular basis, it's inevitable the audience you're hoping to reach is out there, right where you need them. But how do you target your message to just the right person—let alone multiple groups who make up your prospects and existing fans? In this article we cover important elements of using social media to engage multiple groups, while keeping content consistent with your brand, in an efficient and effective way by featuring an audience segmentation example from one of our clients.
For almost two years, I’ve had the pleasure of supporting The TMW Center for Early Learning and Public Health with their social media content strategy. Part of the University of Chicago, The TMW Center creates and pilots research-based interventions in communities in order to boost early childhood learning. The center’s interventions focus on empowering parents to help their babies and toddlers’ brain development, encouraging them to “Tune In, Talk More, and Take Turns” with their little ones.
When SBS began our partnership with The TMW Center, the challenges were clear. They had one audience consisting of researchers, policy makers, and other early childhood advocates. Parents and caregivers made up another, quite different audience. The center used both Twitter and Facebook, but were unsure how to effectively use each channel to keep their current audiences while attracting new followers.
Fortunately, with a little research, strategizing, and creativity, we were able to help The TMW Center balance their audience messaging and social media channels. Over time, they’ve enjoyed a significant increase in followers and more clarity around their approach to social media. You can easily do this for yourself as well! Below, we walk you through the steps to show you how we did it.
Step 1: Know Your Audience(s)
Before drafting a single social media post for The TMW Center, we talked extensively about their audiences. This involves asking yourself the following:
After identifying key audiences, pick two or three to prioritize and develop personas for each. Use your imagination and consider what a typical audience member might be like. What is their age group, gender, income level, or hobby?
When you're using social media to attract more than one audience, personas deepen your understanding about which content ideas best match which audiences. In our work with The TMW Center, for example, we know that new research findings on foundational brain development are ideal for their professional audience.
Their other audience, parents and caregivers, may not have time to read in-depth scientific research, but do welcome quick tips on how to engage their young children in everyday conversations.
Step 2: Know Your Brand
It can get a little tricky developing content for more than one audience, which is why developing a brand voice is so important. From graphics to word choice, you want to define your organization’s unique personality. This way, no matter who is developing your content or which audience it’s directed toward, the organization’s identity remains consistent and recognizable.
The TMW Center uses the same color schemes, stock image styles, and fonts across channels. Key concepts and word choices—such as #3Ts or “rich talk and interaction”—pervade their social media posts. They’ve established an overarching identity of a well-informed advocate whose focus is to support parents and boost early childhood learning.
Once those brand guidelines are established, it’s easier to know how and when to bend the rules a bit when engaging different audiences. Here’s another good example: The TMW Center offers a free online professional development course for early childhood educators. By slightly changing the language, we were able to tailor the message for our two existing personas: professionals and parents.
This post was worded more directly to the center’s professional audience:
This approach matched the perspective of parents and caregivers:
Because we had developed a social media strategy, these posts retained the same “personality.” The visuals and overall tone remained the same, as did the goal: increase visits to the course registration link. Within that structure, it was easy to alter the message slightly for each audience.
Step 3: Know Your Channels
In our work together, The TMW Center asked us to focus on Twitter and Facebook (though their staff is developing a terrific Instagram account too!) We’ve been able to use the differences between the two channels—and their primary users—to our advantage.
In both cases, The TMW Center’s social media strategy has paid off, with a 2,000% increase in total net audience growth. The center’s research, programming, and community collaborations are strengthening parental skills and young children’s learning. It’s an honor to know we’ve helped them grow their audiences and impact.
Is your organization in need of a solid framework for your social media strategy? We can help you identify key audiences, solidify your brand voice, and leverage social media channels to your advantage. Explore our services!