How to define and reach you social media target audience
Social Media Campaigns

Reaching Your Social Media Target Audience: A Comprehensive Guide

19 March, 2024
8 min read
Freya Laskowski

Defining your target audience can be difficult. With nearly 5 billion social media users worldwide, it’s tempting to think you can reach anyone without trying. 

With more social media networks available than ever, spending your time and money wisely is important. It’s best practice to focus on where your customers are. 

You'll produce more relevant campaigns by identifying your social media target audience. That leads to a loyal customer base and a greater return on investment. 

In this article, you’ll learn what a target audience is, why you need it, and how to find and reach yours on social media.

Free template for planning social media campaigns

What is a social media target audience?

A social media target audience is a defined user base segment that shares common characteristics, interests, and behaviours.  

It's about identifying individuals most likely to resonate with particular content, products, or services. This segment forms the core of your client’s online community.

Understanding the concept of a target audience is paramount. Your target audience represents a group of individuals who are not just casual spectators but the heart and soul of your social media presence.

Here are several key characteristics of a social media target audience:

  • Demographics (age, gender, location, etc.)
  • Interests and hobbies
  • Behavior and values
  • Online habits
  • Challenges and pain points
  • Purchase Intent

By understanding and defining this audience, you can create content that resonates, engage in meaningful conversations, and, ultimately, achieve your goals on social media.

how to define and reach social media target audience Statistics in billions on social media users



Why do you need to define a target audience?


Image Source:

With billions of people online, you might wonder, "Why bother defining a target audience?" It's a valid question. The answer is pivotal to your client’s social media strategy. And it can be summed up in one word: relevance. 

While it's true that social media provides access to an immense pool of diverse users, not every user is your ideal customer. Casting a wide net is tempting but can lead to inefficient resource allocation and diluted messaging.

Here are some compelling reasons why you need to define your target audience:


Your client’s resources are limited. You can allocate these resources more efficiently by focusing on a specific audience. Your marketing and content will be more targeted and, as a result, more effective.

Message relevance

When your content speaks directly to the interests, needs, and pain points of a specific group, people are more likely to engage and respond.

Loyalty and retention

By understanding your target audience and catering to their preferences, you're more likely to build a loyal customer base.

Competitive advantage

In a world where competitors are vying for the same digital space, defining your target audience sets you apart. It allows you to offer a unique value proposition that appeals directly to your audience.

Return on investment (ROI)

Targeted marketing campaigns have a higher ROI because they are more likely to convert leads into customers. Your marketing efforts become investments with tangible returns.

Data-driven decisions

Defining your target audience enables you to collect valuable data and feedback. You can use this data to refine your strategies and make informed decisions.

Defining your target audience is not about excluding potential customers. It’s about prioritizing your efforts. It's about crafting a strategy that speaks directly to the people most likely to benefit from and engage with your client’s brand.

5 steps to identify your social media target audience

Now that you understand why it's crucial to pinpoint this specific group of people, let’s get to the five steps that will help you do just that.

1. Conduct market research

Market research is the foundational step in defining your social media target audience. Over half of marketers say they don’t have the right information to identify their audience. Market research is what makes the difference. In market research, you gather and analyze data about your customers. The goal is to understand your industry, competitors, and most importantly, your potential customers. 

Here are four tactics to use to conduct market research.

  • Analyze industry trends: Research current trends and developments in your client’s industry. Look for emerging technologies, market shifts, and changes in consumer behaviour.
  • Keyword and hashtag research: Use keyword research tools to identify the terms and phrases relevant to your industry and audience. This can help you tailor your content to what your potential audience is searching for.
  • Social listening: Invest time in social listening, watching social media platforms for mentions of your brand, industry keywords, and competitors. This can reveal discussions, sentiments, and pain points in your niche.
  • Social media analytics: Use monitoring tools to track mentions, comments, and conversations related to your industry, brand, or products. This can reveal valuable insights about what your target audience is discussing and how they perceive your brand or competitors. Here’s what Instagram’s “Insights” looks like:




By conducting thorough market research, you'll gain a comprehensive understanding of your client’s industry, competitors, and potential customers. It's the critical first step to social media success and will be useful in the other 4 steps.

2. Survey your current customers

Want meaningful data? Go right to the horse’s mouth–your customers! Technicallyconducting surveys is an aspect of market research. But it’s a large enough category so we made it a step of its own. 

If you aren’t familiar with surveys, here are four key elements to remember.

  • Design the survey: Create a concise and targeted survey. Keep it easy to understand and complete. Focus on questions that will help you gain insights into your customers' preferences and behaviours on social media. Well-executed surveys get an 85% response rate. Software like Jotform or other services provide premade surveys for you.


Image source: Jotform

  • Distribute the survey: Send the survey to your current customers through email, social media, or even directly on your website. Surveys should be accessible and easy to fill out. Consider using incentives, such as discounts or freebies, to encourage more customers to take the survey.
  • Key Survey Questions: Use a mix of question types, including multiple-choice, open-ended, and rating scale questions. This variety will yield a well-rounded set of responses. Ask about their favourite social media platforms, preferences for content, how they engage online, etc.
  • Analyze survey data: After collecting responses, analyze the data to identify common trends and patterns. Look for recurring themes in their responses that can help shape your social media strategy.

Surveying your current customers can be a powerful tool for understanding your target audience. It allows you to align your social media strategy with the preferences and expectations of those who have already chosen to engage with your brand. This personalization can lead to higher engagement and greater customer satisfaction.

3. Create detailed buyer personas

You can create buyer personas based on your market research, including customer surveys. These are ideal representations of your ideal customers. Crafting these personas is crucial in defining your social media target audience. They provide a clear picture of the people your client wants to connect with. 

After you’ve gathered your data and searched for trends and themes, here’s how to create detailed buyer personas. 

  • Conduct interviews: If you can, conduct interviews with real customers. These interviews can reveal valuable insights into their motivations, pain points, and preferred social media habits.
  • Define persona characteristics: Create separate personas for different segments of your audience. For each persona, define demographics, goals, challenges, interests/hobbies, preferred platforms, content preferences, and online behaviour.
  • Name and create persona profiles: Give each persona a name and create a detailed profile. This profile should encapsulate all the characteristics you just listed. Providing a name and a face (even if it's a stock photo) can make the persona feel more real and relatable.
  • Regularly update personas: Buyer personas should evolve with your business and changing customer behaviours. Review and update your personas to confirm they remain accurate and relevant. A persona profile may look like this:


Image source: HubSpot

Creating detailed buyer personas is like crafting a clear image of the individuals you want to engage with on social media. It helps personalize your marketing efforts and ensures your content is directed at those most likely to become loyal customers and followers.

how to define and reach social media target audience Statistics on social media users in billions on different platformsSource

4. Analyze competitors' audiences on social media platforms

One effective way to identify and understand your client’s social media target audience is by examining who your client’s competitors engage with. This analysis can offer valuable insights and help you identify untapped opportunities. 

Some of these insights were likely discovered during your market research. Here's how to effectively analyze your competitors' audiences.

  • Identify key competitors: Identify your client’s main competitors in their industry or niche. Focus on those who have a significant presence on social media.
  • Evaluate competitor profiles: Examine the competitors' social media profiles across different platforms. Pay attention to their follower count, engagement metrics (likes, comments, shares), and the type of content they post.
  • Investigate their followers: Dig deeper into who follows the competition. Look for common patterns in the demographics and interests of their followers. Pay attention to aspects like age, location, common behaviours, etc. 
  • Analyze engagement: Study the comments and interactions on competitor’s posts. This can reveal what content resonates with their audience and what issues generate discussions.
  • Identify gaps and opportunities: Look for areas where your client’s competitors may not fully satisfy their audience. This could involve content topics they're not addressing, platforms they neglect, or unmet customer needs.
  • Continuously monitor: As your client wants to improve, so does their competition. Keep an eye on how your client’s competition grows their audience and engages. This analysis will always be an ongoing process. 

By analyzing your competitors' audiences, you can gain a deeper understanding of the landscape within your industry. It’s a simple but strategic way to refine your social media targeting.

5. Refine and validate the target audience on social media sites

Once you've conducted market research, surveyed current customers, created buyer personas, and analyzed competitors' audiences, it's time to refine and validate your social media target audience.

This step involves fine-tuning your understanding. Here's how to do it.

  • Review and merge data: Review all the data you've collected in the previous steps. This includes information from market research, customer surveys, and competitor analyses. Merge this data to gain a comprehensive view of your potential audience.
  • Identify patterns and overlaps: Look for patterns, commonalities, and overlaps in the data. Do certain demographics, interests, or behaviours consistently emerge as characteristics of your potential audience?
  • Revisit buyer personas: Look back at the buyer personas you created earlier. Take care that these personas still accurately represent the identified characteristics.
  • Seek external validation: Consider seeking external validation through focus groups or customer interviews. This step can help you verify that your personas align with the real-world preferences of your audience.
  • Adjust and refine personas: Based on the data consolidation and validation, make necessary adjustments to your buyer personas. Refine the personas to better match the insights you've gathered.
  • Rank personas: If you've created many, rank personas based on relevance and potential impact. Some personas may be more critical for your client’s social media strategy than others. Take special consideration of potential ROI for each persona.
  • Watch and adjust: Continuously check the performance of your social media campaigns. Adjust your strategies as needed. Regular analysis keeps your marketing relevant and effective. 

Refining and validating your target audience is an ongoing process. But it will ensure your social media strategy aligns with your client’s goals. It's crucial to maintaining engagement and building lasting connections with your ideal social media followers and customers.

Try Sendible’s social media analytics tool to gain useful insights into your strategy and see what’s really working for your client’s audience. 


Your Pocket Guide to Setting Measurable Social Media Goals

4 quick tips to engage your social media target audience

You have your target audience. Now what? It’s time to develop content and engagement strategies tailored to your refined and validated target audience. Your social media efforts should now be finely tuned to address their preferences and needs.

Here are four tips for engaging your client’s social media target audience.

1. Create Valuable Content for Social Media Users

Craft content that educates, entertains, or solves problems for your audience. Valuable content keeps them engaged and coming back for more. Remember, the key is understanding your audience's needs and interests to provide content they find genuinely valuable. Tesco, the largest grocery chain in Britain, has a poppin’ Instagram feed.


Source: @tescofood

2. Use A/B Testing

Experiment with different post formats, headlines, or visuals. You’ll learn what resonates best with your audience. A/B testing helps you fine-tune your content strategy by letting data guide your decision-making. For example, try using different images and captions on links and see which post performs better. 



Image source: Social Tradia

3. Use Relevant Hashtags

Incorporate trending and industry-specific hashtags. This will expand your content's reach and connect with a broader audience. Research and choose hashtags thoughtfully to ensure they align with your content and target audience. Think creatively here. Doing your market research may reveal a hashtag you had never considered. That hashtag may be a key that unlocks a world of new followers.

4. Interact and Respond Promptly

Engage with your audience by promptly responding to comments, messages, and mentions. This fosters a sense of community and shows you value their input. Consistent interaction can lead to higher engagement and brand loyalty.

Wrapping it up

Finding your social media target audience is the key to successful digital marketing. It guarantees your efforts are laser-focused and relevant. 

The five steps we outlined in this article will help you get there. This process will lead to a more loyal and engaged customer base. Ultimately, that means a higher return on investment for your client.

Now you have everything you need to identify, find, and engage with your target audience. Time to get started creating a strategy to connect with them. Not sure where to begin? Download our free social media campaign checklist to help you identify your target audience today.

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