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Are brands really segmenting their social audience?

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I was chairing a breakfast yesterday morning in Sydney for @BandT #MadWeek on the topic of social and mobile marketing. We got onto the topic of audience segmentation and were brands really at the point where they had the data and the means to segment their audience. When I asked the audience if they thought they were advanced enough in their social program to really segment their audience, the response was overwhelmingly NO! When asked if they thought they should be, the answer was overwhelmingly YES!

Many brands have spent considerable effort and money trying to build social audiences of scale. So why do they not know more about the makeup of that audience? The Demographics, Geographics and importantly Sociographics? What percentage are customers or prospects, and what percentage have no real interest in the brand. Are they regularly connecting with the brand? Are they advocates? Not knowing, as I have discovered, is the norm and not the exception.

It seems obviously compelling that as a brand interacts with consumers on a social channel, where that individual often provides a considerable amount of information about themselves (of their own free will), why would the brand not try to gather that information and use it to better understand the consumer. Yet many marketers are still fixated on building scale, and not on building depth of understanding.

Does size of our audience help us to sell more product or drive revenue? No, not in and of itself. Only by connecting with customers more deeply and building that relationship, or by converting more prospects to customers, do we grow sales. Do we need such scale if we get better at attracting and converting the right social audience? So obviously growing our depth of understanding of each consumer is valuable. Segmenting them between the customer set and the prospect set, and being able to treat them accordingly, is also compelling.

As we build the depth of understanding, it opens a world of possibilities for driving our social marketing investment harder. We can obviously do some of the following:

  • You can start by transitioning from "en-masse" to segmented marketing based on known and desired customer behaviour.
  • We can obviously measure which segment of your audience is the most viable to target, so you can start avoiding the scatter gun approach many brands currently employ. Just the simple exercise of using Facebook Custom Audiences is more effective, if you know which audience is the most likely to convert from prospect to customer and what offer really drives the desired behaviour for each segment.
  • We can obviously start A/B testing our audience against offers, and track conversion.
  • And when we have really started to gain insights, we can start getting quite personal with offers and focusing on re-engaging each member of our audience on a continuous cycle, designed to build brand loyalty and advocacy.

This progressive cycle leads to two other really exciting topics - Personalisation and Re-engagement, but that requires more depth and should be the topics of separate discussions.

Segmentation is a major transition point in social marketing, that all brands should be working on. The technology is upon us to make this possible. If you are not yet evolving your data set to achieve this, then you are now outside the most progressive brands who are actively working on strategies and technology to achieve this. Segmentation is a true passion for our team, and will be the subject of some very exciting new product updates, that are not far away.

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Posted by

David Fairfull
CEO & Co-Founder

David has developed deep marketing domain expertise and is passionate about shaping the the role technology is having on the marketing function. Formerly a Managing Partner of We Are Social (the largest global social agency), Regional Director APAC for McCann Erickson WorldGroup's digital business, and Managing Director of The Brave Group (an early pioneer in digital marketing), he is driven by the idea that technology can make marketing fun