Ten years ago, knowing everything about everyone was impossible. Today, the idea is not nearly as far-fetched. Social media offers you a virtual flood of data about your followers. With so much information, you could conceivably create marketing campaigns directly aimed at a specific audience. The key to a successful plan is simply knowing how to use the data.

ThinkstockPhotos-122516953Before you begin, you need to know what you want to know. This notion seems fairly intuitive, but when you actually begin searching for data, you can easily lose track of yourself in all the information. Have a clear goal in mind when combing through social media data. Think about who is most likely to follow you, how people have responded to you in the past, which of your social channels has the most traffic—these concrete questions should help get you started.

Once you have a goal set in mind, start using data analytics tools. Both Twitter and Facebook offer “audience insights,” services that gather information about users, and present it in a palatable form to marketers. For example, Twitter has a tool that allows you to isolate an age demographic and compare it to your followers as a whole. Facebook has tools with similar functions. Use audience insights even more fully—compare your Facebook results to your Twitter results. Comparing and contrasting respective social networks leads to a fuller view of your audience. Furthermore, using social listening tools helps target trends within your audience’s conversations. These can track the frequency with which certain words are used, and offer a general overview of your followers’ conversation.

You can only really market successfully to an audience once you know it. Just as a comedian must know who is in his crowd to make them laugh, so too you must know who follows you on social media to successfully market to them. Do so, and you will be able to create content that both appeals and sells.

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