A colleague of mine recently complained to me that he had posted a notice about his latest webinar in a Facebook group and not one of the members of that group had come!
I asked about the group. It wasn’t completely irrelevant to his business.
But then I asked im if he had ever participated in the group before. He hadn’t.
Regardless of what you are doing online, it’s important to find your audience first.
If you’re paying for ads, the ad service will do this for you.
And, ideally, with searches (SEO) your clients will find you. (If you do a good enough job.)
But the internet is gigantic and an extremely noisy place.
There are millions of businesses all trying to get attention.
With most forms of marketing, you need not only to know your audience, but to know where they are online.
If you have something to promote, and you promote it to the wrong people, or in the wrong place, nobody will care.
Nobody will hire you.
Step 1: Know Your Audience
The first step to properly marketing online is to know your audience, in this case your prospective clients and the people who know them.
Ideally you should have at least one buyer persona, a typical client.
If you don’t have one typical client, you should definitely use buyer personas, at least as a way of helping you with the next step.
Step 2: Find Your Audience
You need to know who your audience is before you find them.
But once you have a typical client in mind or, better yet, a few different buyer personas, it’s time to find out where they are.
Should You Use Social Media?
So many people tell you to use social media to promote your business.
But if you are just posting and nothing else, you’re shouting into a void.
You need to find the right social media spaces.
So, if you think you can use Facebook to market your business, you need to join relevant Facebook groups.
So if you are an accountant who helps small businesses, you need to find at least two types of groups: groups which focus on your town or neighbourhood, and groups that include the types of business owners you serve.
If you are in B2B, or otherwise want to use LinkedIn, you need to find the relevant LinkedIn groups.
And if you really want to use Twitter to promote your business, you need to figure out how to participate in the right Twitter communities.
The same applies to any form of social media, even TikTok and Clubhouse. You need to find your audience before you start marketing.
In the case of the example at the top, you need to be sure it’s the right Facebook group for what you do.
Find Your Audience in Forums
Social media have millions of users.
Most of those people don’t want or need your help.
Finding the people on social media who do want and need your help can be tough. This is especially true on a platform like Twitter that doesn’t have clearly definited subcommunities.
Forums have existed since the dawn of the internet.
They are often extremely narrowly focused on a very specific topic.
And you can find your audience.
If you’re a dentist, you should be in health forums, for example.
Step 3: Be a Good Citizen First
But once you’ve found where your prospective clients hang out online, it’s important to hold off on marketing until they know you.
In the example at the top, he wasn’t known by anybody in the group.
He also wasn’t liked by anyone in the group. (Not because they disliked him but because they literally didn’t know who he was.)
And he certainly wasn’t trusted by anyone in the group.
If you are going to market to an online community they better know, like and trust you.
This is especially true if you are a newcomer to their community or if the community has strict rules about self-promotion.
Always respect the community’s rules.
Become known as a good citizen.
Then become liked as a community member.
Finally, become a trusted source of information.
4. Promote to Your Audience
Only once you are known, liked and trusted should you can start marketing to your community. (If you are allowed to directly market as per community rules.)
You will have a lot more success, whatever you are promoting, if you are marketing to a community that knows you and is full of people you can help.