By Jared Atchison, co-founder of WPForms

If you run a business and are trying to reach more people in your target audience, how much have you invested in a social media marketing strategy? Social media isn't just for users to communicate with loved ones anymore; it's also become a mainstream method for businesses to increase engagement, boost brand visibility and further reach.

Social media is so effective for business strategies because there are so many people who use it. Statista estimates that there are 2.7 billion social media users around the world, and that number increases every year. It's not going anywhere and will continue to be a resource for brands to grow their audiences and reach their target markets.

Let's look at a few ways you can use social media to further your reach with your target audience.

Use data to determine your target market.

It would be extremely difficult to reach your target audience if you aren't sure who they are in the first place. Playing a guessing game simply isn't good enough; you need to have data to make informed decisions for your business and know exactly who you're catering to. Otherwise, you'll waste time, money and resources marketing to the wrong group of people with little to no success to show for it.

Instead, use your website and social media analytics to determine and define your target audience. This data will tell you your audience's demographics, what content of yours they consume the most and where they're most active. Google Analytics is your best bet for narrowing down your target market. 

Pay attention to the following metrics:

  • Engagement
  • Reach
  • Click-throughs
  • Hashtag engagement
  • Organic vs. paid likes

Utilize industry hashtags.

In the last decade, the use of hashtags has exploded all over social media. They're an easy, effective way to stay up to date on the latest events, trending topics and questions within your industry. They're also good at getting your content in front of a broader audience by using them in your own social media posts. Anyone who looks up that hashtag can see content posted with it, which will help your brand gain more exposure.

It's a best practice to narrow down the hashtags you use so they aren't too broad or general. The more specific you can make them, the better, since it'll attract a smaller audience that matches your niche more appropriately. You can also create hashtags specifically for your brand so that users automatically associate them with your business. Coca-Cola boosted its visibility by creating the #ShareACoke hashtag, which encouraged customers to share a coke with their loved ones.

Invest in social media ads.

Most social media platforms allow brands to use ads to sponsor their businesses to get them in front of the right audience and promote their content. More and more businesses are taking advantage of this tactic to further their reach and boost visibility. Sometimes finding your audience organically proves more difficult than anticipated, and paid ads can help get your content in front of the right eyes to win your business the traffic it needs to reach its goals.

It's important to invest in paying for ads for the right platforms. If you invest in social media advertisements for platforms where your audience isn't present, it's a waste of money. Make sure you're only advertising on social channels where your audience spends time and is active. Pew Research Center has data showing who is spending time where on social media in 2019 so you can get a better idea of where to invest. 

It's best to use organic, well-performing content to fuel your ads. People are already frustrated by ads on their social media as it is, but if you present them with content you know they're already engaging in, such as what has high engagement on your analytics, you have a better chance of getting click-throughs.

Over to you.

In this day and age, creating a social media marketing strategy is one of the most effective ways to reach your target audience and create content that caters to their interests. Most people are actively using social media to interact with brands, so using the right channels to find your target market is sure to boost your brand awareness.

Using data to make informed decisions about your social media marketing strategy will ensure that you're targeting the right audience. Using hashtags as part of that strategy is guaranteed to further your reach. Finally, investing in sponsored ads will get your content in front of new eyes where it otherwise couldn't reach.

How will you use social media to reach your target market?

Jared Atchison is the co-founder of WPForms, a drag & drop form builder for WordPress that's being used on over 400,000 websites.

Published on: Aug 9, 2019
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.