Segmentation for Social Media and Why you Need to Know About It



When we first start working with new clients–or potential new clients–we often hear frustration in their voices. Oftentimes, they struggle to enumerate the several segments that they could be addressing via social media.

“Well, it should be donors… but what about applicants? And recruiting…we need to do recruiting too!”–those are the kinds of things we hear from companies who are unsure of who they’re trying to reach, and how they’re going to reach them.

And in that light, one of the main ways that a lot of people destroy potential value from social media is by never being clear about who they’re trying to connect with.

For that reason, segmentation is an essential part of a solid social media strategy.

Social media is a mainstream business function today, and it has rules and processes–just like your other business functions.

The first process to get right is the strategy process. But breaking it down even further, the first part of the strategy process is defining exactly who you want to reach, and figuring out how to reach them effectively–and that’s segmentation.

Social media is about real people, not software or websites, and the only reason to engage in social media is to create real connections with human beings. This doesn’t mean that the people you’re interacting with need to have a lengthy conversation with you, but it does mean that if you can get them to visit your website, download a document, or apply for a job, that has a real business value as well.

Here’s how you should segment for social media in order to effectively reach your target audience(s):

  1. Always have your primary segment in mind. That is usually the buyer.
  2. Next, you need to determine the key messages for the buyer.
  3. Once you determine the key messages for the buyer, you’ll probably see a clear overlap with a second segment–like decision influencers, or job recruits. Remember this second segment.
  4. Now, just like you did for the first segment, define the desired message for your second segment.
  5. Continue steps 3-4 until you run out of meaningful stakeholders.
  6. Once you’ve done all of the above, pick the key segments that will make the biggest difference to your business, and see where the messages for those segments overlap. Don’t expect this to be tidy–in many cases, the messages for those segments will be very different (value proposition to buyers vs. value proposition to employees).
  7. Define which platforms each of these key segments are most enthusiastic about (Facebook, Twitter, etc.).
  8. Match segments, messages, and platforms. By this point, it will be very clear to you which platforms you need to use for which audiences, and which messages you need to use to most effectively communicate to those segments. You’ve just completed the segmentation process.

The main thing to remember is that social media isn’t magic—your key segments in real life should remain your key segments in social media.  Some segments may be easier to reach than others, but you still solve the same problems for the same segments.

You might emphasize one segment a bit more than the others on social media, but the laws of gravity are not repealed when you launch a Facebook page.

As an example, one of our clients is a nonprofit that targets communities doing good in the developing world, people from the first world traveling to the third world, donors, and technical professionals.

It’s foolish to try and target every segment in the same tweet, but we can tell the developing world communities what we do, we can tell the travelers’ success stories and give them technical specs, we can tell the donors’ success stories and ROI information, and we can tell the technical professionals how they can donate their expertise.

Some of these stories come on the blog, some on Facebook, some on Instagram, and some on Twitter. And while they all might not be completely relevant to all of our segments at once, they’re still valuable content across the board.

Social media isn’t about being all things to all people, but your success is much more likely if you know what success looks like for each one of your segments.

Adrian Blake learned a long time ago that segmentation drives strategy.

Reprinted by permission.

Photo credit.

About the author: Adrian Blake

Adrian began his career in the television industry, leading the international growth of Saturday Night Live and Comedy Central. Adrian has an M.B.A. from The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and an A.B. from Harvard.

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