One of our most popular Data & Drinks events brought together a panel of social media experts from a wide variety of industries—eCommerce, SaaS, and emerging tech—to teach attendees fresh ways of thinking about engaging and targeting audiences on social.

Social Media Experts

The experts opened the night by explaining what their main focuses are. Katrina Mentor, Program Specialist at REI, manages REI’s Local social program, marketing REI events, classes, and experiences. Shaun Kehrberg, Director of Product Marketing at Marchex, uses social targeting to launch and manage B2B products. Erica Laxson, Social Media Manager at Microsoft Research, uses social to promote all innovative products coming out of Microsoft, from artificial intelligence to gaming platforms to virtual reality, as well as for recruitment and educational purposes.

Here are four new ways we’re thinking about targeting on social after listening to these all-stars break it down.

1. Customer Data ≠ Acquisition Data

One of the freshest perspectives of the evening was Katrina’s differentiation between customer marketing and acquisition marketing:

There’s a lot of great work on our marketing analytics team to develop what we call clusters. It’s a lot of customer data, which is great, but when you look at customer acquisition, this data falls short.  So we [on the acquisition side] have been building a lookalike strategy to expand our reach in markets we aren’t traditionally in. You talk to anyone in Seattle, and they say ,’Oh yeah, I go there all the time!’ but you talk to anyone in Atlanta or Chicago, and they probably aren’t going to have that same reaction.

Katrina’s point here is a great one: while social marketers may use customer data as a jumping-off point, it’s not the best method to learn about and target untapped audiences and future-but-not-yet customers. For that, we have listening! Skip to #3 to learn more.

2. Paid and Non-Paid Must Speak to One Another

The consensus on our panel was that your paid and non-paid social efforts must inform one another. Katrina noted:

We have our in-house social team, and another component called Paid Media, that does social ads. They take the customer data and segment down, creating different audiences from that data. We will share audiences within social, and other teams at REI will send us their audiences. Then we create a ‘lookalike’ off all this data—and vice versa. 

Erica chimed in here to explain how Microsoft Research uses current employee data to create lookalikes:

We look at what schools they went to, what degrees they have, what interests they have. We are able to create a lookalike audience of our current staff to bring in the next generation of talent. We use our internal data and we’ll do some social listening to see the hashtag trends, and what moves the conversation.

This listening data even feeds into the verbiage for the copy Microsoft Research uses on social to promote events. Erica says, “We want our audience to feel like we know exactly who they are. We speak just like them. We are your friend and you should come hang out with us!”

3. Listening Is a Key Component

Erica went on to say:

Listening is actually a key component. That’s how we decide what we are going to send out and what content we are going to use…We do a lot of listening between competitors, and a lot of benchmarking based on competitors. We look at what kind of content other brands are putting out. Should we copy anything? Are they failing? Is there anything that we should avoid? Are we missing anything? Were there events that we didn’t know about? Okay, let’s put that in the editorial calendar next year, minus three months to plan it out.

Katrina mentioned that REI also uses listening.

Yes, this is a little plug for Simply Measured (Advanced Analytics). We set up a segment in our acquisition markets this year, which are Chicago and Atlanta. We are using listening as an initial testing ground to see what people in Atlanta are saying about us. Some of them might be talking about us. Many people aren’t.

Atlanta has a very different outlook on the outdoors from Seattle, so Katrina’s team wanted to use listening to find out:

  • What are Atlanta folks talking about generally?
  • What are people saying about the outdoor space in an urban area like Chicago?
  • What activities can REI build an editorial strategy around?
  • Who is talking about the outdoors?
  • Is there a possibility for an event in the area?

Katrina set up a query with Simply Measured Listening with great success so far, honing in on possible blog articles and topics in which to target these specific areas.

4. Customers Are Your Best Advocates

When asked about how to develop an influencer program with few resources, Shaun really brought it home:

Customers are your best advocates. If you have customers who are so happy about your service and product that they are willing to take the mic for you, you don’t have to pay for that. That’s gold. To me, success is: how do you get someone from onboarding, to adopting the product, to growing with it, and eventually becoming an advocate that you can leverage on social media. That’s organizational. It takes a lot of hands to develop that.

And we’ve come full circle. While customer data isn’t the only information you need to target a new or expanding market, a positive customer experience is a key component of the selling process: creating advocates and, if leveraged properly, influencers for your brand and its products.

As networks and network users evolve, so do targeting strategies on social. What are you doing to uniquely find and engage your target audience? Let us know on Twitter!