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Popular Social Media Buzzwords

A Glossary of Social Media Audience Terms

“Who are your key influencers?”

“How are you targeting your potential customers?”

“What steps are you taking to develop thought leadership?”

These are good question to ask, but they can quickly turn meaningless if you don’t know how to define popular social media buzzwords. What exactly is an “influencer?” How am I supposed to be a “thought leader?” Can I really target my “potential customers” in social media?

Marketers tend to toss out these terms frequently, but they are seldom used to define specific segments of social media audiences. To help better target your consumers (and thus lead to higher web traffic, sales, downloads, etc.), it’s a good idea to divide your audience into groups. Each group is reached differently, and applying the same tactic across all customers isn’t as effective as specific targeting.

So, who are your key audiences?

Influencers: This group includes any person that has significant voice in the mind of your followers. Typically, they include bloggers or people with large Twitter and Instagram followings. Essentially, if they post something online, people are going to notice, and you want them on your side.

  • How do I find them? Try searching for key terms relating to your industry to locate the bloggers. Usually, the best bloggers will also have the best SEO, so after the first few pages of Google search results, you can safely bet that you have found most of the influential blogs. Do the same thing with Twitter or Instagram. Here, the equation is simpler: the larger the following, the more influence the person has.
  • How to I target them? Because your list of influencers will likely be very small (10 blogs and 10 social media personalities), you can target each one individually. Blogger relations is the new version of media relations, but the approach is the same: Try to develop a relationship with each person like you would a reporter. Provide them with good content in the form of editorials, guest posts or topic recommendations. The end game is to have them recommend or speak positively about your product or service, so you want to be as helpful as possible. Because they have such large influences, a positive tweet/post/picture will go a long way.
  • How do I track them? If you succeed in getting anyone to tweet or blog about your business, be sure to use an analytics program (like Google Analytics) to track the traffic to your website. If you see a significant uptick coming from their blog, this is a relationship you want to cultivate.

Fans: This is the top-10-percent, most-devoted segment of your following. They are dedicated to you and your brand; in their minds, there’s no question about which product to buy: yours! They are eager to engage with you and can provide positive customer reviews or recommendations to potential consumers.

  • How do I find them? They are the ones that engage with your posts the most; they comment on your blogs; they tweet back at you when you ask questions. To them, your product is Just. So. Awesome.
  • How do I target them? There’s no need to try and win them over, so avoid trying to engage them in overly “sales-y” language. Use “Most Devoted Fan” or “Best Follower” contests, of which the prize will be a chance to engage with you further. (i.e., If you’re a restaurant, the prize can be to meet the chef.) If the customer has already engaged with you on Twitter or Instagram and you know their handle, be sure to engage back by thanking them for their shoutouts or answering their questions quickly.

Consumers: This group consists of everyone else who has used your product or service. They follow you on social media, but they don’t ever engage. Your posts tend to disappear into their News Feeds because you are not top-of-mind to them.

  • How do I find them? Essentially, they’re the rest of your social media following or email list.
  • How do I target them? Contests will work here, but not to the degree of “Fans” and “Potential Consumers.” Up the incentive by rewarding them with discounts or free samples for helping spread the word about you. Content is always king, but especially when trying to further engage with this group. Make sure your blog posts and emails are providing people with interesting and valuable information. Your goal is to draw this audience in and turn them into “Fans.”

Potential Consumers: This is anyone who could/would buy your product, but hasn’t yet. Usually, they have relationships with current “Consumers” or “Fans,” but they’ve never engaged with you themselves. Ideally, you’d like to convert them into a fan, but before that can happen, you’ll have to turn them into a consumer.

  • How do I find them? If the social media search functions aren’t working, you can use advanced social media targeting programs (such as Social Mention, TweetAdder, or to locate users that talk about your industry online. Facebook advertising is extremely effective at targeting users based on everything from indicated interest to geographic location.
  • How do I target them? Word of mouth is the most effective way to market your product to these users, aside from paid advertising. Use contests or content that prompt consumers to “Share” your posts, which will expose your content to their extended networks. Boosting posts on Twitter or Facebook is also an effective method in getting your brand in front of people who have never seen it before. Remember that content, again, is king.

A note about Thought Leaders:

This is a little different from the other categories in that you, as a company, could also be a part of this category. Essentially, a thought leader is anyone in the social media sphere that people regard as “knowing what they are talking about.” When a new product comes along, this person’s opinion carries a lot of weight because they are very knowledgeable about the industry. They are often quoted in media pieces.

You, too, should desire to become a thought leader. The key benefit is the respect you’ll get from the media and social media users. If you have people’s respect, they’re much more likely to listen to you when you want to get your own message out there. Thought leadership is gained by being a leader in your field, by generating a lot of thought-provoking discussion, and, of course, posting incredible content.

Putting it all together:

How do I reach all these different groups at the same time? It’s very possible; notice that the commonly-lauded social media practices of tagging followers, posting excellent content, running contests, and encouraging fans to share your content apply to most categories. You can work hard to develop personal relationships with your influencers and continue to post statuses or run contests that excite consumers and reach potential consumers. By posting great content, you’ll slowly establish yourself as a thought leader.

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