How are Social Media Audiences different from Traditional Audiences?

Sep 15, 2023

Your social media strategies aren't simply an extension of your current marketing strategies. This means the audience personas you targeted for your website, PPC ads, and other traditional marketing efforts aren't going to be the same on your social platforms.Instead, you need new social media audience targeting strategies that consider social media users' unique behavioural characteristics as well as demographic data. Then, you can create and share content specifically for that audience, ensuring what you make will resonate with them.Learn ten factors that differentiate social media audience targeting from traditional marketing audiences.

Why Do People Follow Brands on Social Media?

With all the other ways to connect with brands, why do consumers choose to follow brands on social media?According to Sprout Social, here are the most common reasons people follow brands on social media:

  • 57% want to learn about new products or services
  • 47% want to get company updates
  • 40% hope to find promotions or discounts
  • 40% enjoy the entertainment
  • 34% want educational content
  • 32% expect to connect to a similar community
  • 32% feel inspired
  • 21% use it to communicate with the brand
  • 18% connect with people who are different

While some of these motivating factors overlap with your other marketing audiences, a few are unique to social media, like their need for entertainment. These motivating factors provide new opportunities for interacting with your audience to meet their needs.However, you must first understand your audience before you can effectively use these strategies for social media target marketing.

10 Ways Your Social Media Audience Is Different Than Traditional Audiences

Start targeting social media content more effectively using these ten insights into social media audiences and their behaviors.

1. Users Share More Demographic Information

In the early years of Facebook, users took pride in sharing every detail of their life. Some went as far as following random pages like, "I like stepping on crunchy leaves." Today, people still overshare on social media, like the (still) ongoing Instagram trend of posting pictures of every meal.Oversharing and social media have always had a close relationship. While those details might elicit an eye roll from some users, marketers can use the tiny pieces of data users share for targeting ads and content.

Image from Meme Generator

The most valuable data you can glean from social media users are their age, gender, relationship status, location, educational level, and other basic demographic details that people post publicly. No other marketing platform gives you that many insights into your audience.

2. Users Find New Brands and Products on Social Media

Social media is the top way consumers find new brands. About 78% of US consumers bought products they discovered through Facebook.Is your social media marketing strategy targeting the emerging demographic of social media shoppers?Traditional marketing strategies focus on indirect strategy. For example, you first bring in an audience with engaging content, then end with a call-to-action that hopefully moves them towards a purchase. However, many social media users are actively looking for products, which means your strategy should include both marketing and sales content as well as optimising for search queries and indicators.

3. Users Engage with Brands beyond Marketing Actions

Social media is more than just a marketing channel. Consumers also use business social channels for customer support, making purchases, and building a community. If you restrict your social media use to marketing activity, you are missing out on other ways to engage with your community.For example, you can use the channel to troubleshoot common issues users have with your products, highlight new ways to use your products, or connect with customers through chat and forums.By using your platform in these customer service areas, you also show others your good customer support, which helps your marketing efforts. For example, 62% of customers will recommend you to a friend if they have a positive customer service experience. Additionally, 83% of consumers say customer service is one of the top three contributing factors when choosing a brand.

4. Users Want Conversations on Social Media

The foundation of social media is the social aspect of the platform. While traditional marketing channels involve you sending a message to your audience, social media opens up the conversation for your audience to respond.Consumers engage on social media by leaving comments, likes, shares, and tags. Successful brands on social media see these interactions as opportunities to increase social media engagement. Instead of letting the conversation end with a consumer remark, take a few seconds to reply, even if you just say, "Thank you," to a comment.When you do this, you make the conversation a two-way street, which builds relationships with consumers. That process is called relationship marketing. Relationship marketing goes beyond making quick sales but invests in long-term loyalty. A five percent increase in your customer loyalty rate can increase your revenue up to 95%.

5. Users Expect Bite-Sized Content

In social media, less is often more. For example, Facebook posts with 40 or fewer characters saw 86% more engagement. Meanwhile, some of the best-performing blog posts are 2,100 to 2,400 words. If you brought your blogging strategy over to social media, you would not see the same success. Your social audience expects bite-sized content they can easily digest while scrolling through a long media feed.You can deliver more information in a smaller space by using different types of media, including:

  • Videos
  • Images
  • Infographics
  • Memes


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6. Users Use Social Media as an Integrated Part of Their Day

When you use traditional marketing techniques, you often target specific people at crucial parts of their day, like when they are opening their emails in the morning.However, your social media audience is on the platform throughout the day, and they often don't have a specific purpose for being on their account. The average social media user spends 147 minutes a day on their accounts.You have the unique opportunity to reach your audience at every point in their lives with relevant and timely information, whether they are scrolling while on a subway or browsing products while eating their lunch. You can be the first brand they interact with when they wake up and the last post they see before falling asleep.Use your constant connection to build relationships with your consumers throughout their day with customized and relevant content rather than trying to make a quick sale.

7. Users Are More Casual

Traditional marketing channels often treat their audience interactions like a business meeting where you pitch a product or idea through demand generation or thought leadership content. However, social media is like taking your customers out for coffee after work and offering advice. It’s casual, personable, and inviting.Even the most professional brands should relax on social media.Some ways to help you create casual content on social media include:

  • Using less formal language
  • Sharing personal images of your brand and company culture
  • Getting your audience to interact with your content
  • Incorporating memes or emojis

When you use these strategies, you humanize your brand, which helps with relationship marketing.

8. Users Are Often on Mobile Devices

Mobile device usage dominates most marketing channels, including email, website visits, and online searches. Social media users are also predominantly on mobile devices when interacting with your brand.Over 79% of social media users access their platforms via a mobile device. In addition, Mobile social media use accounts for 21% of all mobile usage minutes.With more users on mobile devices, consider making marketing actions easier to complete on a smartphone. For example, having purchase buttons directly on your content or subscribe buttons within a video can make those actions easier to complete on a mobile device without having to leave the app.Honestly - Is your social media account and website still not optimized for mobile usage? It should be.

9. Users Respond to Emotional Triggers on Social Media

The most viral or engaging posts on social media trigger an emotional response. Some common emotional reactions are:

  • Awe
  • Empathy
  • Inspiration
  • Nostalgia
  • Amusement

Image from Neil Patel

In most cases, happy content receives more engagement and shares than content that evoke a negative or sad response.You can create more emotionally based content to engage your audience through storytelling, case studies, involving your followers in your content, supporting causes, and telling jokes.

10. Users Want to Be Part of a Community

Social media is more than a content platform. It’s a community with many opportunities for like-minded people to find each other and engage in meaningful conversations. Your business becomes part of that community when you incorporate social media in your marketing.To invest in the community rather than promote your brand like other marketing techniques, you must shift your focus from a brand-centric view to consumer-centric.For example, you can build a community on social media by using hashtags, connecting with your followers, promoting their content, hosting virtual events, and using social media influencers who already have a loyal social media following.

What Unique Value Will You Offer Your Audience?

Moving from knowing what you need to do to acting on these strategies isn't always straightforward. We understand that social media is constantly changing, and the needs of your audience change with it.Our dedicated team of social media experts has the tools and the first-hand knowledge necessary for staying on top of shifting consumer behavior. We help you create relevant content that builds relationships with your customers and makes your brand stand out as a leader in your industry.Contact us and start building a community of engaged social media followers.

David Ledstrup
Chief Strategy Officer

As Chief Strategy Officer (CSO) @ Kubbco, I lead the global strategic efforts and oversee the research and planning, community, content strategy and paid social teams.

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