Non-Profits and Social Media: 3 Steps to Defining Your Audience


I recently wrote about how non-profits and NGOs need a plan to guide their social media efforts. One of the first steps in that plan is determining exactly who you're trying to reach. An understanding of your audience should drive your entire social strategy. It will help you determine your goals, messaging and tone, and help give a better understanding of social analytics.

Step One: Determine a Social Media Target Audience

(Hint: your social media may not always target the same audiences as your website or other marketing channels)

Choose a group of three to six audience types and create a journey map. Really get into it. Think of the people who make up each type: who they are, what they like to do and what they may want from an organization. From there, define why they're the target:

  • Why are they important to your social strategy?
  • What actions do you want them to take?
  • Step Two: Find Out How the Target Audience Uses Social Media

    Research, research, research... and more research. The information is out there; Pew Research studies, blogs and SlideShares are all good places to start. Questions to keep in mind:

    • What actions do your audiences take?

  • What are they looking for online?
  • What are they talking about?
  • What social platforms do they use the most?
  • What are they engaging with?
  • What time of day are they most active?
  • Step Three: Do Some Internal Digging

    Find out more about your current fans and followers. You may be reaching an audience that you hadn't planned for and that can factor into your strategy. Start by determining who your influential followers are and what they have in common with followers of your peers/competitors. From there you can figure out what content they are engaging with the most. Some great tools to get a better grasp of audience demographics are:
    Twiangulate -- to help find connections/overlap in followers with peers and competitors
    FollowerWonk -- allows for search of Twitter bios and other graphs and demographic information
    Facebook Insights -- it's vital to keep and eye on insights as well as specific fans of your organization's page to get an understanding of who is already in the audience
    Statigram -- shows most active Instagram followers and posts

    Now What?

    Brainstorm! Consider this research as a significant piece of the overall social media strategy puzzle. Use the information you gather to inform your content strategy -- if researchers are looking for facts, incorporate more infographics and stats into your tweets. If donors are seeking a behind the scenes look at your organization or results from fundraisers, make sure to include photos of your next big event or stats about how much was raised on your Facebook page.

    Non-profits and NGOs need to stop thinking like an organization and begin thinking like their constituents. In turn, these social good organizations can enhance the online experience of their constituents and more importantly their lives.

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