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What is the target audience?

Although social media offers the potential to reach a mass audience, marketers are more likely to achieve their campaign objectives when content is targeted to a more specific audience.

A woman watching/consuming media on her phone whilst on public transport

In the previous step you considered the kind of campaigns that appear on your timeline, that is the products and services and information that is shown to you online. You considered why you found some content more appealing than others and what was most likely to prompt you to engage with it. If you find certain campaigns more appealing than others, it could be because you have been correctly identified as part of the target audience for that product or service.

A target audience is a group of people who share particular demographics or behaviour. Any messages and content can be tailored to those characteristics. It’s also easier to show messages specifically to them, by choosing relevant platforms, publishing schedules or paid campaigns.

Defining the target audience for your brand, service, product or campaign is often a wider marketing issue, though social media may provide additional ways to reach them.

You can help to narrow down your target audience by looking at:

  • Demographic data: including gender, age, location, profession, income and education
  • Lifestyle or life stage: such as starting university or college, new parents, parents whose children have moved out of home
  • The pain points or issues your product or service solves, including who might benefit from such solutions
  • Existing users of the brand/service/product: What do they use most? Who are they? Why do they use it?
  • Users of competitor or similar products/brands.

By examining these attributes, you can build a set of ‘personas’ for a brand. Personas can be really helpful as a shorthand for segments of audiences.

Below you can read about ‘Sally’, a persona developed by a food brand. The brand is developing recipe and ingredient meal preparation kits.

As you read about Sally, think about why she would be a suitable audience for this product.

Sally’s full persona is also available at the bottom of this page in the Downloads section.

Example image representing a working mother

The Working Mum

Biography:

  • Sally, 27 years old
  • Newly Qualified Teacher (primary school)
  • Married
  • 1 child (2 years old)
  • Household income £40,000
  • Stockport, UK

Specific objectives:

  • Easy family meal preparation
  • Making healthy choices for family and self
  • Less time shopping and doing chores
  • Quality, but budget friendly

Main frustrations:

  • Job means lots of work outside core work hours, usually in the evenings
  • Income doesn’t stretch to eating out or take-away except for occasional treat
  • Ready meals aren’t nutritious for the whole family

Brands she uses/consumes regularly:

  • Diet Coke, Disney, New Look, Instagram, Manchester Evening News, Channel 4, Netflix, Apple, Rimmel.

A persona will be informed by demographic and usage data but centred around real objectives and obstacles. It helps marketers to shape messaging and influences how and where campaigns are experienced.

There are plenty of free persona templates on the internet, though the style and content may vary, as well as the industry. For example, a persona created for a pet food brand will probably be quite different to one created for a financial services company.

Remember, the target audience for a particular campaign may not be the same as the overall audience for a brand or product. It may be a subset, or even a new group of people, especially when thinking about new product launches.

For example, the overall target audience for a running shoe brand is probably people who go running. The audience for a specific shoe in their product range might be women who run on roads and pavements. But the target audience for a particular campaign might be women in their 20s who are new to running and want to get fit for summer.

Over to you:

In Step 1.4 you read about Samir, Siobhán and Maia. Think about their businesses. Who might their target audience be?

Share the definitions of your target audience with other learners in the Comments section.

If you’ve chosen the same case study as others, does your target audience differ to others who are looking at the same case study, or do they share common features?

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This article is from the free online course:

Create a Social Media Marketing Campaign

University of Leeds