A successful social media marketing campaign depends on a thorough understanding of the audience you want to target for your school. Taking the time to conduct a social media audience analysis before you launch or ramp up your marketing efforts can improve its performance and get the best return on investment (ROI) for your budget.
The place to start is with actionable analytics that will help you analyze your audience. Knowing exactly who your audience is – and where they hang out online – will help you craft content that you know your audience will love and engage with before you create it. You will cut down on your outbound expenditures, giving you more capital to invest in other tactics once your social media campaign is fully operational.
Your analysis will be used to inform the design of materials, messages, media selection and activities of your social media strategy. It establishes a realistic picture of the audience you want to target for your school. As a result, messages are more likely to resonate with your audience and lead to increased enrollments.
A social media audience analysis will help you identify and understand the priority and influences for your marketing strategy. A complete audience analysis considers:
- Socio-demographic characteristics (i.e., sex, age, language, religion)
- Psychographic characteristics (needs, hopes, concerns, and aspirations)
- Barriers and facilitators that prevent or encourage your audience to take the desired action
- Gender and how it impacts your audience’s behavior and willingness to enroll in your school
- The best communication channels for reaching the right audience for your school
In general, you will want a small team to work on the audience analysis. Usually, this will be your marketing manager and staff. Stakeholders should be involved in the process as well. Think about the best ways to engage your school’s stakeholders in the process to gain their input and feedback. Some schools have used in-depth interviews, focus group discussions, community dialogs, small group meetings or stakeholder workshops.
Here are the 10 steps to follow to conduct a social media audience analysis.
Use audience insights from social media to collect data about your current audience.
Log into Twitter Analytics. Click on Audiences. You will see your audience’s key demographics, interests, and languages.
Go to your school’s LinkedIn Page and click on the Analytics tab. Here, you can see your followers and the industries that make up your audience, including company size and job function.
Go to Facebook’s Audience Insights tool. In the Choose an Audience to Start window, select People Connected to Your Page. Enter your Facebook Page URL in the box that says People Connected to Your Page. From there, you can see demographic and buying behavior data about your social media audience. Navigate back to the Choose an Audience to Start window. Select Everybody on Facebook. Select a competitor’s Facebook Page as an Interest category. This will show you the demographics and behaviors of your competitor’s social media audience.
Identify all potential audience(s)
Brainstorm and list all potential audiences that would make sense for your school’s marketing campaign to target.
Select your target audience(s)
In order for your market efforts to be successful, you need to identify the most important audience(s). When choosing your audience(s), consider who has the most invested in selecting the right school for their child and who has the control or resources in order to make a decision. Consider your current audiences as well as the ones you have brainstormed.
Identify the characteristics of your target audience(s)
Identify the characteristics of each target audience you have selected. Here is a reference table.
Organize your data into a table. (Example)
6. Identify knowledge, beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors
The next step is to identify what your selected audience knows, feels, thinks, and does related to enrolling their child in your school. This allows you to tailor your messages and activities based on the audience’s knowledge, beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors.Here is a list of ideation factors that commonly influence individual behavior. These should be considered when determining your target audience’s knowledge, attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors.
- Perceived risks
- Social support and influence
- Personal advocacy
Here are some questions you might want to ask related to your target audience:
- What does the target audience already know about your school (or type of school)?
- How does the target audience feel about your school?
- How does the target audience see their role with respect to making a decision about whether to enroll their child in your school?
- Does the target audience feel at-risk for a problem related to enrolling their child in your school (or a competitor’s school)? How at-risk do they feel?
- What social norms might your target audience experience related to enrolling their child in your (or a similar) school?
- What emotional reaction does your target audience have towards your school (or similar schools)?
- What type of social support do you think your target audience will receive related to electing to enroll their child in your school?
- How likely do you think your target audience is to reach out to your or someone on staff if they are interested or have questions about your school?
Identify barriers and facilitators
It’s important to know what stops or encourages your target audience to contact your school. What barriers prevent your target audience from contacting you? What facilitates them taking the desired action?
If you need more information to identify likely factors, consider conducting qualitative research such as interviews or focus groups. Consider the following barriers for your list:
- Habits. What habits do people tend to have that prohibit them from taking the desired action? (An example might be that they don’t want to go through a lengthy, complicated enrollment process.)
- Fears. What fears do people have that might result in contacting you (i.e., cost.)
- Past experiences. What types of negative experiences might your target audience have had in the past that might impact their willingness to reach out to you?)
- Availability. Do you have someone available to address the needs of your target audience on a regular basis?
- Accessibility. How easy is it to contact your office? Are they likely to take the time and effort to access your enrollment office?
- Affordability. Does your target audience perceive that they will be able to afford your fees?
- Acceptability. Is it socially acceptable for your target audience to enroll in your school? What are the existing practices and traditions in their family and/or social circle?
Consider audience segmentation.
Audience segmentation is the process of dividing your audience into groups that share a common characteristic that will affect their willingness to discuss enrollment with your enrollment officer. It is common to segment target groups by where they are at in their “customer journey,” but other types of segmentation might be advantageous.
Use the following criteria to determine whether an audience needs to be segmented further.
- Is a sub-group of your audience particularly hard to reach, requiring different channels?
- Do any of the members of your audience have distinct views or concerns about enrolling their children in your school that may require a different message?
- Do any of the members of your audience need extra attention or interventions?
Identify Key Influencers
Influencers can be individuals or groups. They can have different roles in the lives of your potential enrollees such as friends, family, teachers, health care providers, leaders or the media.
- Who has the most impact on your target audiences’ school-related behaviors and what is their relationships with your target audience?
- Who makes or influences your target audiences’ decisions in the area of school enrollment?
- Who influences the target audience positively and negatively?
Here is a sample template you can use to organize influencers for your target audience(s.)
Develop audience profiles
An audience profile (also called an avatar) is a detailed profile you create to represent your ideal target audience. In order to create your audience profile, try to tell the story of the person you are creating. Here are some questions to ask to get you started:
- What is their age, income level, gender and marital status?
- Where do they live? Who else lives in the home? Who are the neighbors?
- How many children do they have and how old are they?
- What type of goals do they have for their child? What are their hopes, dreams, and aspirations for their child?
- Do they have savings? If so, how much?
- What type of family activities do they enjoy?
- What is this person’s greatest worries in life and how does he/she deal with them?
- What do his/her friends and family think or do that might impact their decision to enroll their child in your school?
- How do traditional gender roles influence this person’s life?
- What type of work does this person do for a living? How do friends and co-workers describe this person?
- Who are this person’s closest friends? What do they have in common with each other?
- What does a typical day in this person’s life look like? How might enrolling his/her child in your school impact their current daily routine?
- What does this person think or feel that might make it easier for them to decide to enroll their child in your school?
A social media audience analysis is essential for determining which social networks your audience lives on, the best tools to use to gather demographic and behavioral data for your target audience, and target your ideal prospective families with content they will love and want to share.
Have you used a social media audience analysis for your school’s marketing plan? What tips can you share with other school marketing professionals? Please comment in the SchneiderB University Facebook Group by clicking here.
Also published on Medium.