Understanding Your Audience to Market on Facebook

By John Haydon

Whatever your business and marketing goals are, always assemble the best information that you can about your Facebook audience. The better you understand the culture, desires, motivations, and viewpoints of your audience, the more effectively you can capture their attention and deliver your message.

Understanding the lives of your customers and prospects is the key to creating marketing messages that resonate with people so strongly that they take action, such as joining your email list, liking your Facebook Page, or purchasing your product or service.

An excellent example of a business that understands their audience really well is the Threadless T-shirt company in Chicago, Illinois. The business was founded on the simple idea of selling T-shirts based on designs submitted by artists and voted on by customers. These designs in turn get published on the company’s Facebook Page, where fans can share their favorite designs with their Facebook friends.

The folks at Threadless use Facebook as a way to let fans know about sales; handle customer-support issues; and even engage fans in promotions on other social media sites, such as Instagram.

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Finding out what makes your fans tick

Facebook gives you some powerful insights into your fans. In fact, identifying and then reaching a specific audience has never been this exact and cost-effective. The Facebook Insights tool helps you find out more about who visits your Facebook Page, including a demographics-and-interests breakdown on your fans, and Facebook’s ad-targeting capabilities make it relatively easy to get your message to the right target audience within Facebook.

Gathering this information can be fairly easy if you know where to look and how to go about doing it. Ask your customers to fill out satisfaction surveys or a short questionnaire through your e-newsletter or website, for example. Another option is to search Facebook for companies similar to yours and read the comments posted by their fans to see what makes them return to those companies.

Understanding your fans’ psychographic profiles is an important element in knowing who they are. Psychographic variables (such as what music they love, politicians they endorse, or causes they support) are any qualities relating to their personality, values, attitudes, interests, or lifestyles. Psychographic variables offer additional insight into demographics (such as age and gender) and behaviors (such as use rate or loyalty), and can help you better understand your customer segments.

Psychographics is exceptionally relevant in any discussion of social networks because your target audience is more likely to interact with you along the lines of personal interests, values, and lifestyles. Tom’s of Maine, for example, takes advantage of the fact that many people are concerned about making positive changes in their communities and the environment. The company’s Facebook Page has an Earth Day tab that allows users to participate in a photo contest.

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Appreciating your fans

Customers want to feel as though they’re receiving special treatment on Facebook. They want to know that their support is important to you and that their concerns are heard. They want something in return for their loyalty. Facebook members love free stuff, special discounts, and promotions. But they want to be sincerely appreciated as well, and you might even argue that sincere appreciation is more valuable than free stuff. Offering both is the best approach!

It’s not surprising that Facebook members are looking for real value in the form of informative and engaging content from marketers on Facebook. Much as in Google Search, in which users are farther down the intent-to-purchase road by the very nature of their searches, Facebook users aren’t necessarily looking for specific products and services to purchase. That’s why marketers need to grab their attention through special offers.

People can find special incentive offers throughout Facebook on Facebook Pages. LOFT gives visitors a chance to get discounts and special offers by liking its Facebook Page.

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Although discounts and promotions serve as good incentives for some people, savvy marketers want to provide value in different ways that reinforce their proposition value. The Hallmark Channel allowed its fans to support an animal shelter with its Kitten Bowl Facebook app. This sort of promotion creates long-term affinity among fans.