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How to Use Social Media to Reach Your Target Audience

Posted: 07/31/2020 | Author: Angela Ozar for Creatives On Call | Tags: Guides and Resources

How to Use Social Media to Reach Your Target Audience

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Does anyone remember MySpace? Before there was Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and the host of other social media platforms, there was MySpace. OurWorldInData cites MySpace as the first social media website to reach over a million monthly active users in 2004.

MySpace helped pave the way for social media as we know it today. Social media began in the early 2000s with the introduction of the world wide web. It has been growing like wildfire ever since.

Today, it’s more important than ever. It’s where people shop, get news updates, engage with family and friends, and so much more.

Merely having a presence on social media is no longer enough. To get the most out of the platforms, you need to be leveraging it to reach your audience. We will explain what social media targeting is, why it’s essential, and how to begin. Also, as we all know, its important to understand how the current world with COVID-19 has impacted our view on businesses, even before we start targeting. 

What is Social Media Targeting?

Social media targeting is the ability to reach specific audiences with posts and ads. Social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter have the option to target specific audiences through paid and organic content.

Demographics, interests, and geography are some of the factors you can choose to define the audience you want to see your content.

Social media targeting helps you achieve a higher ROI on ad spend because it limits the ad or content to an audience that is more likely to buy the product or service being marketed.It makes for a more personal marketing message because you can talk directly to those who want or need what you have to offer.

Targeting specific groups of people through social media will get you more bang for your buck. It will ensure you are effectively using the full platform’s capabilities.

Identifying Where Your Target Audience Is

If you haven’t heard of MySpace, you certainly have heard of Facebook. Facebook gathered quick popularity in the mid- 2000s and still reigns supreme today.

According to Statista, Facebook currently has 2.5 billion monthly active users. Facebook has the largest market share of any social channel and was the first social media platform to reach a billion users. Youtube and WhatsApp come in second and third place globally for most used social media platforms.

If you ask any Millennial or Gen Zer though, they would include Instagram, Snapchat, and TikTok as most popular with their age group. Adobe Spark includes these names in their list of the top 7 social media sites for 2020.

People have different preferences as far as social media goes. That’s why it’s important to know which audiences have a bent toward a specific website or app. The Pew Research Center offers a handy guide to view who uses social media and which platforms they use.

It is good to know the top social media websites and which sites are the most popular with your audience. Revisit the statistics from time-to-time to see if there are any major changes.

To get higher conversions, take into account the largest visited platforms, where your audience is, and what makes sense for the products or services you provide.
Hootsuite provides a comprehensive guide to getting the most out of ad spend through the various channels.

Next, we’ll look in-depth at how to target specific audiences through a few of the social media’s top players.

Target Capabilities per Platform


Through Facebook Ad Manager you have the ability to target your audience through a number of factors: and 

  • Location
  • Age
  • Gender
  • Language
  • Interests
  • Behaviors

Facebook allows you to reach people who have visited a geographic location or recently been in a specific area, not just people who live there.

For more advanced targeting there is a drop-down menu titled “more demographics”. Facebook allows you to target by relationship status, homeownership, net worth, and educational level to name a few.

You can get as narrow as you want. Say, for example, you sell life insurance and financial services and you want to target newly married couples who are first time home buyers. You can do that by using a combination of the advanced targeting criteria.

With Facebook’s advanced targeting, you can create a custom audience. You can advertise to current email subscribers or sales leads by adding your own list of prospect contact information.

And Facebook uses a retargeting pixel so you can target visitors who have been to your website with an offer. It makes it easy to apply your sales funnel and target those who have recently engaged with you.

Using advanced targeting features on Facebook increases the likelihood consumers will purchase or engage.

Targeting on Instagram

Because Facebook owns Instagram a lot of the targeting capabilities are similar. The advantage of this partnership is that you can retarget your Instagram followers with Facebook and Instagram ads.

For an Instagram business account, you access your ads through the Facebook Ad Manager interface. Click on “custom audiences”. View options to create an audience based on several attributes.

You can reach people who have sent you a message, saved any posts or ads, visited your profile, or engaged with your content. If you have multiple Instagram accounts it’s possible to combine them into one custom audience and retarget audiences from both accounts with the same ad.

Instagram states that 60% of its users discover new products on their app. Instagram is a powerful storytelling and product discovery tool.

Targeting on LinkedIn 

For B2B businesses, LinkedIn is the place to be. LinkedIn doesn’t have many customizable targeting options through web traffic or customer lists, but it’s best for targeting business professionals.

Through LinkedIn, you can reach audiences by: 

  • Location
  • Industry
  • Company
  • Company size
  • Job title
  • Job function
  • Seniority
  • School
  • Field of study
  • Degrees
  • Skills

Basic demographic factors are available as well as occupation and education criteria.

LinkedIn’s features are ideal for small businesses trying to get in front of executives at large companies to sell their solutions. HR and recruiting services can also utilize LinkedIn ads to find candidates and fill roles.

LinkedIn targeting capabilities are unique and applicable to certain industries and sales opportunities.

Targeting on Twitter

Twitter gives you the option of targeting audiences by common identifiers such as gender, location, languages, keywords, interests, and followers. 
With Twitter tailored audiences you can target using website traffic, customer lists, and Twitter usernames.

Using Twitter names you can filter by people’s following, tweets, and other criteria. There is also the option to exclude certain groups by certain criteria or behaviors. Twitter is highly applicable if you want to reach people around the world. A business that sells abroad can share content and tweets in native languages to provide relevant and localized information.

But First, Define Your Audience when Targeting

3.8 billion people use social media globally, reported in the Digital 2020 Overview. You only want to reach those who care about what you have to offer.

That’s why it’s a good idea to know the audience you are trying to reach before you begin using the available targeting tools on each social platform.

Dig into your website traffic and social analytics and look for patterns. Some people use buyer personas to guide their messaging and marketing strategies. Notice who is engaging with your content, clicking, and liking paid and organic content. Then, set out to reach them through the targeting tools.

Start small. Experiment. Measure clicks and conversions. And expand your criteria if you aren’t seeing the results you would like. Another plus? Having the right social media ratios for all your content. Check out our handy guide to these sizings, here.

Once you’ve successfully defined and discovered your audience, use them to help push your brand forward. Involving your audience in your social media strategy is one of Sprout Socials 9 Social Media Trends of 2020.

It’s a difficult task to find the people who care about you and what you offer in the massive world of social channels and users. But if you take the time to clarify who they are, and what they like and dislike, it’s makes finding them and interacting with them a whole lot easier.


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