Defining a target audience can be one of the most challenging aspects of social media marketing. But once you have a clear idea of who your audience is, you’ll run more relevant campaigns with better returns.

Here’s a comprehensive guide on what a target audience is, and how to find and reach yours through social media.

What is a target audience?

In simplest terms, a target audience is a group of people that’s most likely to be interested in your product or service. And members of this group usually share common traits.

Let’s look at a few examples of target audiences.

Canva, the design tool, has an audience of designers and design enthusiasts, this audience can be further segmented by how the tool is used.

For example, one of Canva’s target audiences is teachers, who may use the tool to create worksheets, infographics or posters.

Another major target audience group for Canva is social marketers who need to create captivating visuals for their brand’s social media and digital campaigns.

Why should you define your target audience?

Why is defining a target audience so important? Below are some of the ways you can benefit from marketing to a targeted audience:

  • You can spend your advertising budget more effectively.
  • You know which social media platforms to focus on.
  • You can develop messaging that truly resonates with current and potential customers. This makes it easier to connect with them and earn their loyalty.

Now that you know why you should define your target audience, let’s find out who your target audience is.

Start by taking a closer look at your existing audience

To understand your target audience, start by taking a closer look a who’s already following you or buying from you.

Here are a few questions that’ll help you with this step:

1. Who is your current audience?

Monitor who follows you on social media and interacts with your posts. Who likes, shares and comments on your content? Look for common characteristics such as age, location, language and interests.

Then you can use that demographic information to target similar people who aren’t yet following your brand.

2. What kind of information are they looking for and why?

Knowing the kind of information your followers look for and interact with will help you understand your audience. And you’ll identify their needs and how to approach them on social media.

People will have different reasons why they follow brands on social media. And you’ll have to adapt your social media content strategy accordingly.

The top four reasons why consumers want brands to use social media to help connect people with each other are:

  1. Connect with likeminded people (57%)
  2. Meet people different from them (52%)
  3. Learn new skills (42%)
  4. Build community (36%)
why consumers want brands to use social media to help connect people with each other

3. Where do they go for this information?

Which social media platforms does your target audience frequent the most? The answer to that question will help you know where to focus your marketing efforts.

For instance, launching a Twitter campaign doesn’t make sense if a majority of your target audience is most active on Instagram. Understanding what your target audience wants and on which platform will define your content strategy.

4. What are they talking about?

What are your target audience’s likes and dislikes? What challenges and what solutions are they looking for? What are they saying about your brand or products? Knowing the answers to these questions will help you understand their biggest pain points and desires.

A platform such as Sprout Social makes distilling online conversations easy with its social media listening tool. This tool tracks conversations around your brand, examines target audience preferences, identifies trending topics and more.

Screenshot of the Sprout Social Listening Tool dashboard

5. Who do they trust?

Trust is important when building relationships with your followers.

Think about your social habits: Do you trust any brand online? Do online reviews from other customers sway your purchase decisions?

You should also think about how your business handles its reputation. Do you respond to all inbound messages or social mentions? Being responsive is important for building trust, retaining customers and attracting new followers.

Define the key benefits of your products or services

Now that you understand your audience, you can explain how your products or services solve their problems. What value does your business offer? Think about how their pain points align with your key benefits, and you’ll be able to position your business in a way that resonates with your target audience.

Check out the competition

To properly define and reach your target audience, you also need to conduct market research about what the competition is doing. Ask questions such as:

  • What types of people are your competitors targeting?
  • How are they reaching out to their target audience?
  • What are they doing right?
  • What’s missing from their strategy?
  • What key benefits are they emphasizing in their marketing?
  • How often are they posting?
  • Which content formats seem to work the best for them?
  • What tone are they using?

Once you understand your competitors, you’ll be able to identify your key competitive advantages. For example, one of American Express’s biggest competitive advantages is its loyalty program for customers. And to promote this unique selling point, the company leverages Amex Ambassadors for its social media content strategy.

Amex Ambassadors


Create content for your social media target audience

Now that you have all this insight about your target audience, it’s time to start creating content.

Here are a few best practices to guide you:

  • A/B test different content elements, formats and publishing times. Fine-tune your content strategy based on to the types of posts your target audience tends to engage with. Monitor what kind of captions they like and which timing works best to engage them.
  • Create content for different stages of the marketing funnel. Entertaining content may be great to capture attention at the awareness stage, for example. But for members of your audience at the consideration stage, informative and instructional pieces work better.
  • Be more direct with your audience research. Instead of assuming or using analytics alone, consider what your followers really think by putting those insights into context. Conduct polls and ask them questions so you can engage them better. And create customer personas to ensure your content is highly relevant for all members of your target audience.

Ready to connect with your target audience?

Now that you’re armed with knowledge to identify and engage with your target audience, you can create a strategy to connect with them. To take it one step further, use our free worksheet on how to create authentic connections with your audience.