Once you are clear about your marketing aims and objectives, it’s time to think about your online community: who are you trying to reach – and where can you find them?

Who is your community of interest?

Online marketing works best in niches. Aim to build a community around your product, service or business. Consider your positioning against the competition. Questions to ask yourself include:

  • What do I offer that is unique?
  • Who, exactly, is my product or service aimed at?
  • What would my ideal customer look like?

Think of your target market as an identifiable niche community that you can reach online. A community that gathers around a particular topic or interest. A community of interest.

How will you reach them?

Once you have your own blog, website or podcast you might be able to create a community that you can subsequently sell products or services to. That is a long-term approach, though. There are likely to be pre-existing online communities of interest that you can reach already, with the right approach.

10 ways to find your community

So where does your community of interest hang out online? You can find out a lot by doing some searches – on social networks as well as Google.

  1. Google it. Social media accounts come near the top of Google search results, so you should be able to spot relevant accounts and communities on social media.
  2. Stay alert. Use Google Alerts to keep up with keywords you want to track online. Use Social Mention for social media alerts.
  3. Search social networks. Are there LinkedIn groups, Google+ communities or Facebook groups built around a topic that is relevant to your business? Are there topic-based Twitter accounts dedicated to it?
  4. Search LinkedIn Groups (www.linkedin.com/groups) for discussions about your industry. Could LinkedIn be a place for you to contribute to discussions and show your expertise?
  5. Search Google+ Communities (https://plus.google.com/communities) for topic-based forums you could contribute to.
  6. Research Facebook demographics. Set up a Facebook ad, selecting your target demographics and keywords – but stop before you buy it. As you narrow down the criteria, Facebook shows your potential market size: the number of people you could reach with your ad.
  7. Look for images. Search Instagram for topic hashtags you might use to run a contest to engage users. Search Flickr for relevant groups that you can contribute to, and Pinterest for pins and boards in your topic area.
  8. Pick a podcast. Search iTunes for podcasts in your area. Are there any? Is this a place people are likely to seek out information relating to your niche? Is there a gap you can fill with your business?
  9. Watch a video. Search YouTube for videos in your topic area. A lot of views might indicate a ready and willing video audience that you can reach with your own videos.
  10. Go pro. Take social media monitoring to the next level with a service such as Hootsuite Insights to discover what people are saying about your brand, industry or competitors.

TAKE ACTION

  1. Search for blogs in your niche
  2. Sign up for Google and social alerts
  3. Look for communities on social networks
  4. Fill in the second two lines of the 1-page marketing plan that comes with your free guide (download here).

In the next post in this series, we’ll look at how to choose the right social media tools.

Find our more in our free ebook, Create a Social Media Marketing Plan.

Jon Reed is an author and social media consultant, and the founder of Reed Media. He previously worked in publishing for 10 years including as publishing director for McGraw-Hill. He is the author of Get Up to Speed with Online Marketing, lectures on social media at several universities, and runs in-house training and workshops. His blog Publishing Talk is a learning resource for authors and publishers, and has one of the most followed Twitter accounts in publishing (@publishingtalk).

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