Define the Target Audience: 3 Variables That All Organizations Should Consider

The first step to execute your social media strategy is defining your target audience, so that you can customize your message and ways of delivering the messages. Different organizations have different groups of audience. For business, this is usually your potential buyers. For a nonprofit, it can be donors to support a cause or potential clients for a program. For government entities, it can be voters, constituents or general citizens. Within one organization, target audience may vary when conducting different campaigns.


(Image from Yahoo!)

Though the business, nonprofit and government face different social media audience, they share common variables when trying to define their audience.

Objective of initiatives:

To achieve different objectives, you need to go to different people. So always keep in mind your objectives. For example, to generate profit, a business will target people who have potential needs for that particular products or services. If a nonprofit plan to fundraise for its organization, it would cover existing donors and people who care about the cause. The elected officials and their organizations would pay much more attention to the constituent communities if they want to compete for those areas.

Demographics of audience:

Knowing the characters of your target audience makes your target shooting more accurate. Should your audience be young or middle aged? Are they with college or higher education? Are they more attachable to mobile or computers? No matter you are with a business, nonprofit or government, answering questions like these will help you narrow down the general public into more specific groups that you can more easily target with appropriate messaging.

Media preference of audience:

What social media platform are your target audience using? If they are more interested in images than videos, you may need to consider Pinterest rather than Youtube. If you are targeting well-educated professionals, people on LinkedIn would be your first choice. Moreover, organizations in business, nonprofit and government sectors have their own preference on content management. So when trying to define the target audience, matching what you have on your platform and what they are interested is also very important.

Apart from above mentioned variables that all organizations need to consider when defining target audience, there are specific aspects that require each organization to think about. The key is focusing on a well defined group of audience who are closely related to your products and causes. And then monitor what they say, response to them at a personal level, amplify the positive while desalting the negative, and finally lead the audience to take actions you want them to.

Reading source:

Demystifying Social Media, McKinsey & Company

Who is Your Social Media Audience? Really, Who is it?, Kelly Jennex, February 14, 2013

Social Media in Government: Five Considerations, HootSuite White Paper, 2013


Different Type of Organizations, Different Social Media Strategies

Nowadays, social media has become a significant aspect of the success for all organizations, which usually fall into 3 types: business, non-profit and government. As their organizational objectives are different, their social media strategies vary from each other. However, one thing in common is that, the social media objectives need to be aligned with the organization’s strategic objectives.

After aligning the social media objectives with organizational objectives, the development of a social media strategy usually consists of the components indicated in the following graphic: listening to influences, content design, engagement with community and evaluation of approaches. With the graphic, we can have an easy understanding on the substantive differences between the social media strategies used for business, non-profit and government.


Listening to influences:

Businesses have to listen to what the customer say about their products or services in order to make the sales more profitable and satisfying. Non-profit organizations rely a lot on what the donors think about their causes. While government need to pay attention to constituents’ sentiments towards the policies and campaigns.

Content design:

Customers expect to find on a business’ social web the information on products, and ways of solving problems around products. So business should be ready to shoot any problem or inquiry there. For non-profit, social web content is more about how is the cause going on and what impact the cause has made. Government tend to bring up opinions and policies in a more social and personal way on its web presence.

Community engagement:

Social media changed the business approach of one-way influence into two-way conversations. Customers are never so connected with product and service providers like they are now. Non-profit make the operation of a cause more transparent to donors and volunteers via social media. Promoting a cause or appreciating donors are never done so naturally. Government, though utilizing social media with great cautions, is engaging target proponents faster and broader today.


Is the social media strategy successful or not? When asking such a question, make sure you have your social media objectives in mind. All social media approaches are supposed to accelerate the achievement of social media objectives. For business, it could be avenue, brand awareness or customer satisfaction; for non-profit it means more donations or more support from supporters; for government it could be larger coverage in a constituent community or a win in the election.

As seen from the graphic, different type of organizations have different social media strategies, based on which different social media objectives and approaches are developed, and different type of content is optimized. Various approaches of engagement also lead to different results.

Since existing social media platforms carry multiple features, organizations from 3 sectors may choose the most suitable platforms according to their unique needs and resources. For example, Google plus and Facebook may be useful social webs for organizations with abundant photo, video, article and text. Pinterest is a good choice for those who regard qualified images as their unique content and have more female audience. In one word, through understanding the differences between social media strategies used by different organizations, one can achieve the organizational objectives with the social media efforts.


SMD102 Week4 Course Documents – Strategy development process

Social Media Strategy Workbook: The 12-Step Guide to Creating Your Social Media Strategy

Moving from Stakeholder to Weaver: Social Media Strategy for Nonprofits

Social Media Strategy for Government Organizations

Influence Over Online Networks

The definition of Influence I found in my online dictionary is: Power to sway or affect based on prestige, wealth, ability, or position. When we talk about the influence over online networks, wealth, ability and position seem not so important. What matters the most is your prestige, in other words, your power of attracting people and affecting their behaviors and thoughts through the online networks matter.

Influence is generated within networks. Influence doesn’t happen if you shut the world out of your room. Influence doesn’t happen if an organization isolates its self in the industry. The influence of individuals or organizations increase when their networks expand. This is the underlying motivation for business, government and non-profits to build up and extend their networks, aiming to enhance their influence.

Business always watches out for profit, making it the efficient sector that utilizes online networks to influence its customers and try to convert a transaction. Despite some governmental functions are willing to influence their audience via online networks, they are very cautions in how to play it and look good at the same time. I think their specific model of game playing is still under development. Online networks just offer nonprofits another easy, natural and cost-effective way to publically recognize their donors and volunteers. Nonprofits are influencing their audience with glory and appeal over online networks.

The ways how business, government and nonprofits influence their target vary. Hence the core factors that define their influence in online networks are different. However, one key factor to evaluate the success of online influence is how many followers you have got. Technology and tools now enable us to track the degree of the engagement between influencer and target. So besides the numbers in the surface, influencers should pay more attention to the percentage of audience that lastingly engage with them. I believe this is the pure influence of any public and private sector.

How to choose the right social media platform for your business?


In this fast-paced ever-evolving digital world, every few months a new social media platform launches, urging businesses to create an account and catch up the new features of this new “toy”, with the goal of attracting more fans in mind.

It’s very crucial to choose the right social media platform with the mindset of putting PEOPLE first, technology second. Regardless your thorough understanding of all the traits of each social media platform, if your social media platform hasn’t been chosen via the first consideration of your PEOPLE – customer and prospective, your engagement with your social media audience will be facing great challenges. We are not saying it’s not important to monitor the evolution of technology, it is only less important when it comes to the decision-making point of which platform and what strategy you are going to adopt.


Choosing the right social platform for high quality engagement

By Ian Stockley | August 5, 2013 |