Targeting Your Audience Via Social Media

Sephora uses its 'Trending Now' Pinterest board to showcase new products, tapping into the social media site's strong appeal to women.While social media has become increasingly popular with almost every demographic, there is still a lot of room for zeroing in on the audience you want to reach.

Pinterest has roared into the galaxy of social media superstars as a female favorite. Its online metaphor of boards and pins creates an organized visual bouquet of everything from recipes to architectural designs.

Brands are flocking to Pinterest because of its high degree of audience interaction. People can track boards that interest them without being friends. It's about content as much as relationships.

If you have a product aimed at a female audience, Pinterest is a smart place to be.

Matt Wilson, writing for Ragan.com, describes the success of Major League Baseball's Fan Cave, which has emerged as much more than an inviting New York location to watch baseball games.

On the third day the Fan Cave opened, it held an online contest to see who could pitch a perfect game in MLB 2011. It attracted tons of tweets, Wilson says. Now there is a full-time video crew at the Fan Cave to record celebrity and player drop-ins, which are posted on the Fan Cave website. A contest was held to name cave dwellers that drew 22,000 applicants and whittled down to 50 "finalists" who were asked to campaign for themselves in their respective hometowns.

"It was like having 50 PR firms out there promoting your initiative," a MLB official tells Wilson.

The goal was to interest a younger audience in baseball, and it has worked. MLB says its Fan Cave audience is 17 to 18 years younger than the average fan that goes to games. Just as important, 35 percent of the Fan Cave audience "likes" or shares content, reflecting a high level of engagement compared to other sports leagues.

Smartphone usage is skyrocketing, especially among African-American and Hispanic users. Several research studies indicate minority groups have embraced online shopping through mobile devices at nearly double the rate of the Caucasian population in the United States, offering a clear opportunity for marketers trying to reach those audiences.

Marissa Ellis, writing on the Madame Noire blog, reports "21 percent of African-Americans utilize their phone to engage in online shopping, reading product reviews and maintaining a shopping list, compared to only 13 of white shoppers."

"Don't think the industry hasn't taken notice," Ellis adds.

The key takeaway is that social media is not a homogenous blob in cyberspace. Social media sites are developing unique pathways as communication and marketing channels capable of reaching targeted audiences.

Just like any other media, you must have a smart strategy that recognizes and leverages the appeal of different digital media. You can reap huge success if you match your targets with the right mix of social media.

Major League Baseball is leveraging its Fan Cave concept into an online sensation, attracting younger people to the game without sitting in the stands eating a hot dog.