Larry BraunerMarketing is often as important to people as it is to businesses.

People seeking jobs, marriage partners or buyers for their personal property all need to target and reach out to their respective markets.

Social Media is Very Accessible

Old media such as TV, radio, print, mail — and even online advertising — tend to be very costly and are used most effectively by big corporations and by savvy direct marketers.

However, the new media such as blogging, video, online social networking and social bookmarking cost little or nothing to use and are as accessible to people and small businesses as they are to big corporations and direct marketers.

Ineffective Use of Social Media

The low out-of-pocket cost of the new media entices people and businesses to waste time and energy by using social media marketing more haphazardly and less rigorously than they would use more expensive old media marketing channels.

Many marketers further compound the problem by bringing to social media old media advertising and prospecting paradigms rather than a new media attracting, socializing and educating paradigms.

Marketers need to learn how to focus their social media efforts by applying rigorous standards and analytics to new media marketing campaigns.

Reaching the Right Audience

One way to focus your social media effort is through targeting. Simply put, targeting means reaching the right people, the people who can benefit from you, your product or your service.

Market segmentation is a form of targeting research that studies the characteristics and desires of different population segments. I assume for now that you know — at least approximately — whom you wish to target, and that you want to be able to tackle the how part of the problem.

Competitive Intelligence

Professional marketers, especially direct marketers, study what their competition is — and is not — doing in great detail. They may also try to understand why the competition is doing what it does, and if a campaign is used over and over, they’ll will assume that the campaign is profitable.

Watch your competitors and you’ll learn how they position themselves, what they write about, what keywords they optimize, where they bookmark their content, what tags they use, and much more.

Competitive intelligence applies equally to old and new media marketing.

Top Targeting Strategies

Here are my favorite targeting strategies:

  • Develop good content that is context sensitive, communicates who you are, what you do and how you might be different — all without reading like a sales letter.
  • Do keyword research, so that while you write for people, you can also help the search engines, as much of your traffic will come from search engines, especially form Google.
  • Fish where the fish are. Choose social networking sites that you believe attract the people you are looking to attract. If you find your competitors there, that can be a good thing. It indicates that your target audience is also there. Hopefully your content positions you in a way that you’ll stand out from the competition or address a need that they do not.
  • Cast a wide net. Don’t prejudge too much. Err on the side of targeting too inclusively rather than too exclusively. Participate on a variety of sites and expose as many people as possible to both you and your message. If you know me, you know that I pursue this strategy on Twitter, LinkedIn and Ning social networks.
  • Let people decide for themselves how relevant your content is and whether or not you might be able to help them. That’s an key element of both attraction and social marketing.
  • Don’t spread yourself too thin. Read The 80/20 Rule and Social Media. Cast a wide net but not too wide.
  • Get personal. Even if you’re a business, people will want to relate to you as a person. In social media you are an integral part of your brand.
  • Experiment and be ready to adapt and make changes as you go. Marketers know that they’re not likely to get it right the first time, so consider everything you do to be a work in progress.
  • Establish an ongoing social media presence. Be persistent. Timing is extremely important. Even if somebody is the right person, the time might be wrong for him or her. You will make a sale if you’re there when the time is right.
  • Use old media to supplement and complement your new media. Just because you use social media, you need not abandon any old media marketing that’s working for you.
  • Seek help if you don’t have all the expertise or writing skills you need to succeed. That help might include advice, project management or outsourcing.

This list is not intended to be complete. However, it should give you plenty of food for thought.

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14 Responses to “Social Media Targeting for People and Businesses”

  1. Debbie Morgan on February 23rd, 2009 2:10 pm

    Hi Larry!

    Thanks for this great information. I’ve spent some time with Linda on the phone and she’s wonderful. Her expertise is in great demand and I feel blessed to have been able to tap into her knowledge base. I would highly recommend her Strategic Market Segmentation blog to any business owner who needs help with their marketing.


  2. Bonnie Hohhof on February 23rd, 2009 6:01 pm

    Thanks for mentioning that competitive intelligence provides value to both small and large companies. If your readers would like some additional information about it, they can check some of the public information we have at, a professional CI non-profit society.

  3. Eunice Coughlin on February 23rd, 2009 6:02 pm


    Excellent post on a subject that can be very intimidating if you don’t take a systematic approach to it. I do that with a neat little site called Social Marker. It makes submitting your own content to the social media sites so easy and you can target your message to your market.


  4. Larry Brauner on February 23rd, 2009 6:21 pm

    Thank you Bonnie for stopping by.

    Good point Eunice. Social Marker makes bookmarking content a lot easier than doing it completely manually. It works with Internet Explorer but works much better with Firefox and Flock.

  5. on February 23rd, 2009 6:58 pm

    I believe the Internet and things like social media are one of the main reasons the old media is becoming less and less relevant.

    I mean, if it were not for my wife, I would hardly watch the news on television.


    Eat Well. Live Well.

  6. Morgan Mandel on February 23rd, 2009 7:35 pm

    Thanks for another insightful post. The not spreading yourself too thin is the tricky part. I’m on so many Ning networks I’ve lost track of them. That said, I usually follow the most active ones. I can tell this by my e-mail notices.

    Morgan Mandel
    Morgan Mandel Blog

  7. DrErica on February 23rd, 2009 11:52 pm

    Hi Larry,

    Very helpful article. I am listed on all the sites you mentioned and many, many more. Several are professional organizations, some are business networks, and others are just social groups. It does take a lot of time, but it also takes time to decide which groups are most worthwhile. I tend to spend more time on only a few. Lately, I have been enjoying because of the high quality, brief and inspiring blogs and videos.

  8. Mike on February 24th, 2009 9:12 am


    Very helpful information in this post and lots of good material in your site. The business I work for is currently reviewing different types of social media applications to provide communications and education to our customer base.


  9. Market Segmentation on February 24th, 2009 10:25 am

    Hi Larry,

    Thank you for another excellent post and thank you and Debbie for recommending me for market segmentation.

    Your readers can go to my blog, click on site map and find loads of articles on market segmentation. Plus many categorized under other topics provide good market segmentation information.

    Larry have you thought about a product that outlines your social marketing approach?


    Linda P. Morton

  10. Steve@Success Factors on February 26th, 2009 5:47 pm

    Great information, Larry, particularly in terms of the 80/20 rule. It applies to your niche as well. I have made the mistake of casting too wide in my businesses, but am learning to narrow the field/s, due to internet sages like yourself :)

  11. Peg Corwin on February 27th, 2009 8:37 am

    Your posts, Larry, always cause me to reflect about what I should be doing that I am not doing. More keyword research on my topics is my take-away from this post.

    And “fishing where the fish are” is a challenge for many of our small business clients. With so many specialized networks, it’s hard for people to find the right ones. I know there are Ning directories. Maybe you also suggest Googling “keyword ’social network’” to find those fishing holes? Running Google Alerts on keywords?

  12. Larry Brauner on February 27th, 2009 11:26 am


    Using search engines and Google Alerts as you suggest always makes sense.

    My advice to look where competitors are and to cast a wide net, i.e. to err on the side of being over-inclusive can help too.

    Besides Ning, there are other specialized sites, and directories of other sites as well. I reference such a directory in Mashable’s Catalog of 350+ Social Networking Sites. Mashable is generally a good source for lists.

  13. Magnetschmuck on March 15th, 2009 10:28 am

    I just came across the 80/20 rule here, and I find these guidelines really helpful in social media marketing. Same with the other sources mentioned here.

  14. Julie on April 21st, 2011 4:25 pm

    On top of checking to see if a repeat marketing strategy is profitable, be sure to check to see if it has not been overused.

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