Why Social Media is the Best Tactic for Segmentation, Targeting and Positioning

The most universal truth among all communicators is: You’ve got to know your audience. For writers and comedians, it might be about how to hook your reader or get a laugh. But for marketers, the reason you have to know your audience is so you can segment, target and position toward them.

When a customer feels like a message was written just for them, they’re more likely to be receptive to what your brand is saying and selling. Segmentation makes this kind of personalization possible.

One of the most useful frameworks for audience segmentation is the STP model of segmenting, targeting and positioning. This model has long been used by marketers to help narrow and best serve different audiences. In the social media landscape, this approach really flourishes because of the firehose of data and personal preferences at your fingertips.

As humans, we naturally adjust our approach for the different people we talk with throughout the day. Social media should be no different. With a solid social strategy and framework in place, you can treat your audience segmentation just like any normal social interaction. And because this medium is so ubiquitous, there are countless ways to slice and dice information so you can consistently deliver your message to the right audiences.

How Do You Segment Audiences Using Social Media?

According to Global Web Index, “Audience segmentation is at the heart of good marketing, and if not carried out with enough detail, companies run the risk of becoming too broad in their targeting and turning potential customers away.”

These first few steps of audience segmentation should take the longest. Unfortunately there is no one size fits all. In fact, we recommend using your own data to segment your audience between and within social channels. Then, most of the main channels provide key audience insights so you are able to create lookalikes. If your food brand has invested in customer research you can deploy and broaden these insights through robust targeting.

First, you must begin by knowing the most basic of target audience information and then drill down from there. Is your audience B2B, B2C, or a mixture of both? What is the geography and ages among your target audience? Do you have multiple key audiences? Do you know any of the psychographics or brand affinities among your key markets? Map out all of the pieces that make up the complexity of your community.

Second, you need to have a good grasp of the varying social media channels. Do you know the key demographics and how many active users there are on each social media channel? Are these professional or personal channels? Do the channels skew older or younger? Male or female? Suburban, urban or rural?

Most consumer brands want to be omnipresent on all the top channels, like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. These channels are so large it’s easier to segment in multiple ways and match all of your key audience preferences.

Take California Walnuts, for example. This brand has several end users for its content. Audiences include consumers, the foodservice/FMI industry, the agriculture industry and health professionals. Before choosing which channels we wanted to use for this brand, it was important that we laid out a distinct path for each of the brand’s audience segments. For instance, we use LinkedIn as the hero channel to segment all of our non-consumer groups. We have separate audiences built using targeting like job titles and industry. On Twitter, we have a secondary channel for health professionals and the foodservice industry, each with their own distinct audiences.

Uncover New Marketing Opportunities: Targeting as Your Secret Weapon

Previous generations of marketers couldn’t have dreamed of the amount of audience data that we have at our fingertips today. It is truly a phenomenon how instantly we can now gather information. Social media, by its nature, is all about sharing personal information, tastes, activities, affiliations and connections. And while there are plenty of new data privacy regulations, there is still a lot of non-shopper data to work with, especially based on your existing audiences.

Targeting is basically a high-stakes game of matching, where you take what you know about your target audience and build a lookalike to those targeting parameters on the given social channel you want to activate.

Since our California Walnuts client doesn’t have different product lines, we think about our content calendar in terms of different kinds of consumption uses. Use cases such as snacking, baking, cooking and meat alternative each present an opportunity for us to target our separate audiences. To do so, we have built segments in advance like bakers, healthy snackers, cooking enthusiasts and vegetarians.

With your target audiences in place, you can deploy the right piece of content that is perfectly suited for those audiences. For instance,  an upcoming #MeatlessMonday recipe would be the perfect piece to go out to your audience made up of vegetarians, vegans and people interested in plant-based eating.

Pinpointing Your Positioning

David Ogilvy once noted there was no real consensus as to the meaning of positioning among marketers, but his definition of “what a product does, and who it is for” is pretty spot on.

The key to the “P” portion of the STP Model is to figure out how you want to position your product for each market segment. This is where both the product lines and the content come in to play. For instance, one of the clients we manage social media for is Martinelli’s. It is a family-owned business that has been around for more than 150-years. They specialize in sparkling apple cider and premium apple juice although the key demographics for the product lines vary greatly.

While sparkling cider might be more for the holidays, we try and add more special occasions than just the traditional holiday season. One of the celebrations we have honed in on is birthdays. With astrology trending among millennials, we target people in that demographic where we know this type of content resonates and who will be celebrating a birthday soon. Aligning with the zodiac sign season, this approach positions the product in a fun new way and usage occasion.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Martinelli’s (@martinellisco) on

For the Sparkling Blush, it is perfect for our female millennials who want to drink pink and partake in Sunday Funday with a rosè they can drink all day.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Martinelli’s (@martinellisco) on

Meanwhile, the premium apple juice is most beloved by both kids and adult males. So we tackle them through different kinds of content. For kids, we share crafts using our bottles as DIY projects and highlight kid influencers. And for men, we showcase athletes with the apple juice product.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Martinelli’s (@martinellisco) on

Using the STP Model, audiences are varied and the targeting and positioning adjusts accordingly, but when you have a solid strategy in place and a brand persona that keeps tonality, look and feel consistent, all the content will fit seamlessly together in one cohesive feed. Thus serving every part of your diverse community in different ways.

Synthesize Your Social Media Knowledge & Tactics

Several years ago, when brands were trying to get their heads around social media, you saw multiple handles for product lines and audiences. Today, we realize our customers understand communication and social complexity so the smarter approach is to synthesize.

Segmenting might sound intimidating – like you need to be a data scientist to understand it. But segmenting your audiences is really about taking one large group and breaking it into smaller ones. The end goal is to deliver the most relevant messages to the most relevant people who want to receive it.

Give your brand one general social media persona and a social media style guide for consistency, but use that framework to tailor and deliver different messages. If you use social media as your medium, you can do it all in one place effortlessly. With the right strategy in place, you shouldn’t be scared of multiple messages or audiences.

Related Posts

Carina Ost Social Media Supervisor EvansHardy+Young
Carina Ost, Social Media Supervisor

Specializing in social media and influencer marketing, Carina brings extensive freelance writing and community building experience to her agency role, overseeing social strategy and the rollout of Lamb Weston brands, Grown In Idaho and Alexia brands.