MCSMN Blog

February 26, 2018

How to Create an Awareness Campaign with Social Media: Understanding Your Audience

By Marie Ennis-O'Connor

In my webinar, How to Create an Awareness Campaign with Social Media, I outlined a step-by-step plan to create an awareness campaign from setting campaign objectives right through to measuring a campaign’s impact.  Before you jump into the tactical details of your social media plan, it’s critical that you take the time to understand your audience. All successful businesses are based on their ability to meet the needs of their audience and social media marketing is no different.

Who Are You Communicating With?

If I asked you who your campaign’s audience is, would you know the answer?  Many people think they do, but then make the mistake of seeing their target audience as a homogenous grouping like the general public. In reality, your audience is made up of different stakeholders and you will need to create and develop different strategies to reach each of your demographics. Learning about the type of people you’re interacting with is crucial to creating an experience that relates directly to them.  Finding data on your existing audience will help you identify who you’re currently reaching and if they are within your target demographics. Use Google Analytics and built-in audience analytics features, such as Facebook Insights and Twitter Analytics, to find information on those people who are already engaged with you. From here, you can determine the demographic of your most active visitors and the topics that they share in common.

Develop Audience Personas

When you have a broad understanding of your audience, your next step is segmentation. The more you segment your audience, the more you can tailor your message to the specific priorities of a given group. While you want to reach as many people as possible, by choosing which audience to prioritize in your digital communications, you will enhance relevance and put your resources to the best possible use.  The best way to do this is to create audience personas for each one of your demographics. Developing personas can help you set the tone, style and delivery strategies for your content. Give your personas real names and lives. Having a visual of who you are writing for will help you to “speak” through your content as if you are talking directly to them.  For more on the topic of personas check out this archived discussion.

Go Where The Conversations Are Already Happening

The more you know about your audience, the better you can reach them with your key messages.  This includes understanding their current perceptions about your organization and your campaign.  What values and beliefs underpin their views? Who influences them in their attitudes? You need to understand the way people think and make decisions about the issues you advocate for. This is an important part of changing opinions and persuading people to take the actions you want them to take.  There are several ways to find this information. The most traditional marketing tool is to conduct an audience survey, and while this is still a useful way to gather information, with social media at our fingertips we can go directly where the conversations are already happening online. Listening to your audience is a helpful way to confirm whether your personas fit your target audience. You can also establish if your organization and the issues you care about are being discussed in the way you’d hope for. It allows you to uncover any misperceptions and identify opportunities for engaging with your audience in more meaningful ways.

Online Listening Tools

Feed readers like Feedly or Zapier can help you keep on top of relevant blogs and online news sites.  Using a tool like Hashtagify or Keyhole lets you search for topic relevant hashtags and influencers on Twitter. Use Twitter’s advanced search capabilities to narrow down your search using parameters such as specific keywords, language, people, location, and date range. Symplur’s Healthcare Hashtag Project can show you insights from tweet chats, live conference reporting, and disease-related hashtags. Question and answer platforms like Quora and Reddit can be used to uncover what people think about your campaign issue and the words they prefer to use when talking about it. The great thing about platforms like these is not only can you learn about which topics your audience is interested in, but it’s an interactive platform which allows you to start your own conversations and answer questions.

Next Steps

Once you have gathered your audience data, you can look outwards at the social media landscape to determine which platforms are the best fit for your target demographics.  Don’t be tempted to skip this step.  The information you gather will be critical in helping you choose the right social media channels for your campaign. In my next post, I will show you how to map this information to social media behavior to help you find which social media platforms are best to reach your audience.

Marie Ennis-O’Connor is a social media consultant who specializes in providing consultancy and training services to clients in the healthcare industry.  Marie also works with clients to create digital patient engagement strategies, including co-designing research and increasing clinical trial recruitment.

A keynote speaker at Mayo Clinic Social Media Network’s first international Social Media Summit held in Brisbane, Australia in September 2015, Marie is a member of MCSMN’s External Advisory Board. She is also a board member of the Patient Empowerment Foundation, a Geneva-based network of people, foundations, organizations and medical institutions dedicated to empowering patients worldwide.  Her work is informed by her passion for embedding the patient voice at the heart of healthcare.

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Tags: Analytics, audience, listening, personas, segmentation, Strategy, Tactics & Best Practices, Webinars

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