What does this have to do with me?

Social media has made it much easier for us to spread the word through blog posts, status updates, photos and videos. Unfortunately, it has also increased the amount of noise that you need to cut through to ensure that your message is heard. You need to work harder than ever to get your message in front of the right people … there are just too many other options that are pulling at them for their attention.

2655969483_7ab8dc51d4_mThe best email marketers have known this for a long time. It’s a basic formula, really — segment your database by interest, deliver relevant content to each of those niche audiences, watch open rates go up and unsubscribes drop.

So how can this translate to social media tools? Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Blogs: Some blogging systems like WordPress allow you to create separate RSS feeds for each category that you write about. You may want to publish these feeds (maybe using a tool like Feedburner) to give readers the option to only hear about topics that interest them most.
  • Facebook: You’re only allowed a single account, but you can broadcast your message to a specific list of people, or you target your message by age, location or several other categories. Set up well-defined groups or fan pages to make it easier for your audience to find the information and the like-minded folks they’re looking for.
  • Twitter: You can’t send tweets to specific lists (yet), but there are many companies that are successfully using multiple accounts to target specific customers or communicate from different parts of the organization. A great example of this is Dell, which has over 35 different accounts — as well as the employees who manage those accounts — on their corporate Twitter page. These accounts range from the Dell Outlet to small business offers to investor insights. It’s a good bet that your current customers might not be interested in the same deals or updates as prospects who have never done business with you. Why not have separate accounts to cater to both groups equally?
  • Tools like Ping.fm and Posterous allow you to choose the individual sites where you want to send a post, or you can post a single message to all of your affiliated accounts at once.
  • Targeting current customers or employees exclusively? Try a private group on LinkedIn or Facebook, or start a private networking site using a tool like Ning. Put up the velvet rope and cater only to their needs. (I think I first came across the velvet rope concept here.)

The bottom line is that it’s harder than even to grab someone’s attention. Even the smallest of organizations may have many different audiences, each with different needs and objectives. A shotgun approach almost guarantees that you’re missing the target for at least two-thirds of your audience. You don’t need to reach everyone with each update. Instead, try focusing on one group … give them something that’s incredibly relevant to them, then do it again. Practice targeting.

What else can you do to better target your message and engage your audience? Have an example of a company that has effectively segmented their marketing efforts? Let’s hear it.

There is one message that works for all audiences — THANK YOU. Thanks for stopping by, and thanks for all you do. Have a great Thanksgiving, everyone!

Photo by viZZZual.com