Ashley Zeckman

The Key to Social Media Success is Understanding Your Audience

What are customers saying about your brand?

I recently attended a great presentation by Taylor Pratt of Raven Tools at OMS in San Diego.  He focused on the importance of using content marketing for improved social engagement.

TopRank has been a long time and well-recognized advocate for the notion of customer centric content marketing.  Over the years we have seen SEO, social media, and content marketing industry change and grow at a rapid rate, so now more than ever marketers must create content to meet customer needs in order to execute a successful online strategy.  The social media game is not only evolving but the way that our audience consumes this information is constantly changing.

In fact, a study by NM Incite (a Nielsen/McKinsey Company) found that 2 in 5 social media users are accessing their social platforms from their mobile devices.

As additional devices are released on the market content marketers should be aware of these trends and create optimized content not only for computers, and Internet enabled devices, but for their customers as well.

How Do Your Customers Access Social Media?


Pratt also provided some valuable information on the different cycles that content marketers should go through in order to effectively target new customers.


Any time that you launch a new client what is your first step?  I’m going to bet that discovery is typically your first step post sale (or pre-sale).  It is essential that you take a similar approach with your own company when launching a new social media campaign.  Some of the  key items you should be looking for when running your initial discovery might include:

  • Brand mentions
  • Product mentions
  • Keyword mentions
  • Competitor mentions
  • Influencer mentions

It is also recommended that you begin determining which social sites you should participate in, key influencers you want to get in front of, and topics that are trending or popular.


After you have discovered what is currently being said about your brand and your industry it’s time to really begin listening.  Attempting to jump head first into the deep end will not produce the results you are looking for.  Begin by tracking how your customers are using social media.  Are they sharing particular pain points or problems?  Are they looking for tips or advice in a certain way?  It is imperative that you interact with your customers in the same way that they interact with everyone else.  You may also want to determine:

  • Where are they participating?
  • What are they already saying about you?
  • What is their activity level on each social network?


Pratt shared a very insightful formula for the Planning phase of the process.  First you want to identify your business objectives.  This could be anything from improving your customer service to generating more sales.  Other objectives might include:

  • Improve brand sentiment
  • Generate brand advocates
  • Increase your brand reach
  • Reduce your sales cycles
  • Improve your product reviews or ratings

The second step involves identifying your organization’s value add.  Work to determine what sort of words your customers or potential customers are using when they mention your company.

Finally you need to define your level of commitment.  How often do you plan on interacting?  What steps must you take in order to create an engaging social media strategy?


When implementing your social media campaign it is very important that you as marketers consider how it will align with your other online marketing strategies.  The convergence of SEO, social media, and content marketing is no longer an option, it is a necessity.


When beginning to measure your brand awareness there are four particular KPI’s to keep in mind.

  • Brand recognition
  • Share of voice
  • Engagement
  • Reach

A recent report by the Altimeter Group provides specific formulas for calculating each of the KPI’s listed above.

Although there are quite a few steps involved in creating a customer centric social media strategy it is well worth the effort.  Have to fear, there are many reputation management and social media engagement tools at your disposal.  Some require a monthly cost while others are at no charge.  Some of the tools available on the market today include:

Remember, one of the keys to a successful social media campaign is asking questions.  The more you know about your current and potential customers, the easier it will be to engage them online.

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Ashley Zeckman About Ashley Zeckman

Ashley Zeckman is the Senior Director of Digital Strategy for TopRank Marketing. In addition to finding innovative ways to showcase the exceptional work of her team, she is also responsible for creating digital marketing programs that drive customer acquisition and growth for the agency. Her background includes expertise in everything from content marketing strategy to branding, account management and social media.

Outside of her role at TopRank Online Marketing, Ashley prides herself on being a great home chef, painter, prankster and dog mom.


  1. Many thanks for including Trackur in this great post!

  2. Avatar Natascha Thomson says


    this is a very good blog. Unfortunately, it did not really focus on what the title promised but that’s forgivable as you provide a lot of other good thoughts and insights.

    • Natascha:

      While this post may not have focused on the creation of customer centric content it was focused on the audience. The tips in this post were geared towards understanding what your audience is saying about you and formulating a strategy that is based on the different ways that they interact with social networking sites already.

      Thanks for reading!


  3. Great blog post!!

    • Thank you for your insight Caroline. I think you made a really good point when you mentioned connecting both online and offline. While we may mostly be connecting online, knowing our customers offline habits can help guide us to an even more tailored online marketing strategy.

      Thanks Again!

  4. I was surprised to see that 97% of the consumer really do make use their laptops to access the internet, I thought mobile/iPad technology has taken it toll in surfing the web.  Nonetheless, thanks for sharing this informative post. 🙂

  5. Love this,  especially The convergence of SEO, social media, and content marketing is no longer an option, it is a necessity. Spot on thanks for posting 🙂