Today, social media channels are a noisy place, with users inundated by messages from brands, media outlets, and friends.
Moreover, on Facebook – the most popular network for users and marketers alike – the deck is stacked against you. Organic reach is hovering around 2% on the network, which means only a tiny fraction of your fans are likely to see your content.
If you want to see results from social media, you’ll need to make sure that the right people see your content, and that means investing in paid social media campaigns and learning how to use each platform’s advanced targeting features.
Which Network Should You Choose?
The top three networks that offer the best results for marketers are Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. Not surprisingly, these are also the networks with the most robust targeting features, as well as a user base that’s generally receptive to sponsored content.
For all three of these networks, you can create customized audiences based on interests, language, gender, geographic area, and age.
Targeting on Facebook
By far the most advanced targeting features can be found on Facebook. It’s also the largest network, making it the top choice for the majority of marketers.
To get started, you’ll need a Facebook Business Manager account. Once you’ve entered some of the general demographic details mentioned above into Facebook Ads Manager you can find the number of people that match those characteristics.
From here you can determine if your audience is too narrow or too large and either expand or further refine the characteristics you want to target.
You can also upload customer email addresses to create Custom Audiences. From there, you can add additional filters, create re-marketing ads, and target users based on their behaviors, including purchases and actions they took on-site.
Once you have a Custom Audience, you can create Lookalike Audiences, which enable you to target people that are similar to your existing customers. You can even use Facebook’s Audience Insights tool to learn more about the people you’re targeting with your ads, before you’ve even spent any of your ad budget. Then you can take what you’ve learned and create an Adjusted Audience that should mean better results from your ad spend.
It’s also worth mentioning that the same targeting options that are available on Facebook are also available on Instagram, including custom and Lookalike audiences. While Instagram is still a fairly new network for marketers (especially B2B marketers), these powerful targeting features will make it an attractive option as its user base continues to grow.
Targeting on LinkedIn
Like Facebook, LinkedIn enables you to target audiences based on general demographic information like age, location, and gender.
In addition, you can also filter based on details specific to professionals, including user-identified characteristics and those that LinkedIn can infer from other details. These include:
- Company Name
- Company Industry
- Company Size
- Job Title
- Job Function
- Job Seniority
- Fields of Study
- LinkedIn Groups
- Years of Experience
While the targeting features are less robust than Facebook, LinkedIn is a good option for B2B marketers, or companies whose product or service is highly specific to professionals.
Because people tend to use Facebook for personal interactions with friends and family, they may be less receptive to business messages there. However, a valuable educational offer that aligns with their professional goals could be very welcome on LinkedIn.
Targeting on Twitter
Twitter’s audience targeting features aren’t as extensive as those available on Facebook, but they offer more options than LinkedIn. You can target by basic demographic characteristics, like language, gender, geographic location, and interests, as well as more specific characteristics. For example:
- Device – target people based on the device they use
- Behaviors – reach people based on shopping habits, income, or other actions taken online or offline
- Keywords – target people based on their own tweets or tweets they’ve engaged with
- Following – reach people who are similar to followers of other accounts. This could include your competitors, brands in the same industry, media, or people similar to your existing followers
Finally, much like Facebook’s Custom Audience feature, Twitter offers Tailored Audiences, which lets you import lists in order to target specific users. This could be a list of customer email addresses or Twitter handles you’ve identified (for example, influencers you want to reach).
Tailored audiences also offers tracking features that allow you to target people who have visited your website or used your mobile app.
Though Facebook offers more potential reach, some studies have shown that Twitter ads have better click through rates than Facebook campaigns. Others indicate that Twitter may be a better choice for lead generation and mobile ads.
Another key consideration is that Twitter campaigns can be a bit pricier than Facebook, which may make them a less attractive option for companies with smaller budgets.
The Key: Know Who You’re Targeting
No matter which network you decide to use, your first step will be the same: you’ll need to know exactly who you’re trying to reach.
You should have clear customer personas, including where they live, what their job is, whether they’re married or have kids, and what they like to do in their spare time.
Depending on your goals, you may also want to know details about their professional lives, who they follow on social media, and what devices they use – because advanced targeting enables you to hone in on an exact portion of your audience based on the characteristics you specify, it’s vital to have all these details mapped out.
It’s also key to know where they hang out online, what kinds of content they want to see there, and what action you want them to take.
Once you know these details, you’ll be ready to craft the right offers, find the right people, and begin driving real value from social media.