Jay Denhart-Lillard
Jay Denhart-Lillard 5 February 2016

Bullseye: Find And Activate Your Target Market

All the great content in the world won't get you traction if you don't have your target market defined

Building your personal brand takes a commitment. A commitment to share and communicate on a regular basis to the audience with which you want to build your reach and influence.

But if you aren’t sharing the right content with the right audience on social media, it can be like you’re loudly selling hot dogs in the aisles of a theatre during an opera performance. It’s just not the right material for the right audience. So before you send out all those shares, tweets, and retweets that you have been working on, you have to ask yourself: Are they reaching the right audience?

Or is it all just buzz for buzz’s sake?

Lately, the trend of sharing content on LinkedIn has been exploding. So many influencers are publishing their thoughts on a regular basis on LinkedIn, you could say that it is becoming the ‘Big Data of Crowded Content’ (and yes, I thought that up myself). But who is listening?

Both LinkedIn and Facebook have been adjusting their news feed algorithms to try to keep users engaged, and so people are choosing carefully who to follow (and sometimes having some trouble) to keep a close eye on the trending topics. The audience is becoming more discerning, so it takes extra work to make sure that you’re breaking through. And you want that extra work to count — to get you the most impact.

We want to make sure we’ve properly set our sights on the perfect target definition, because creating and sharing content without it is like launching a rocket, without knowing where it is going to go (or where it’s going to land). Hopefully the following ideas can act as solid ‘rocket boosters’ giving you the right thrust to get your mission underway:

  • Define your audience: How do you get to know your audience (and therefore, who is NOT your audience)? Well, it may sound simplistic, but you generally have to talk with them! You can read all the reports you like, and feel free to trust your gut, but the only real way to know what people are thinking and doing, and therefore how you can help them, is to ASK THEM. So get comfortable with talking to people about what your unique offering is, and getting their feedback. Only by talking to a wide variety of people you can hope to start to narrow down your audience and know for whom your solution can be tailored. It is always better to know and understand your audience and direct your content based on both the demographics and the segment interest. However, there is a danger in assuming that all 30-year-olds think the same way and value the same things, so don’t expect to always have your insights spoon-fed to you. After all, if you had asked people in 1880 about how to improve transportation, they would have asked for faster horses, even though Benz and Daimler would invent the first modern automobile only 6 years later.
  • Know your mission: Determine your objective and point of difference. Are you focusing on an important, unmet need or demand? If you are using social media for business opportunities then you should have the right product targeting the right market to convert more leads. According to LinkedIn research, LinkedIn users are either looking for content on industry insights or using the platform for job hunting. So if you’re not sharing that kind of information there, you may have some trouble gaining traction and driving attention. W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne recommended that you design your own niche space in the ‘Blue Ocean’ (i.e., the calm area where other people are currently NOT fishing or competing), rather than entering the competitive ‘Red Ocean’ (where everyone else is already active, offering solutions and products). So strike out and be bold: don’t be boring! Develop your unique perspective, and avoid coming across like just a news channel — reporting rather than commenting.
  • Do your research: Take a look at what your audience does on social media. What do they share or publish? Joining groups and participating in discussions, provides a great opportunity to find a common ground and explore the social ecosystem. Check out where they tend to reply and comment on their topics. Sometimes the comments are the best way to understand what’s really important to them.
  • Plan and execute your content: When you have a clear picture of who your ideal audience is and what they do, the next thing to figure out is what kind of information they are looking for and what are they are interested in. And don’t be afraid to spice things up every now and then, it’s an art to figure out what actually entertains and catches the eye, as well as informs. So try LOTS of things to find out what fact, information or industry insights will inspire and activate them. Again, the only way to really know if it’s working it to ask someone, so now is the time to reach out to some of your potential audience and see how they react. Test and learn.

“If you don’t know where you’re going, then any road will take you there.”

– Lewis Carroll (paraphrased)

If you position the right content to the right target segment, it will generate buzz — no matter how big or small the network is. And with the word of mouth playing a more influential role than advertising does on social media, you could even end up magnifying your reach into your ideal target audience.

Once you can identify and activate your ideal audience, you can then focus on turning them into raving fans. But that’s another post!

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