How to Examine a Target Audience When You Don’t Have One

A Blog for Developing Social Media for Small and Really Small Non-Profits  Commoo11 Blog 2 Sept 2016

Identify your target audience

In A Strategic Guide to Social Media for Non-profits whose steps I am following for this blog, they talk about determining your demographics makeup based on your social media following. Well wouldn’t a social media following be handy.  So I need to go back to the beginning.  Do I have contacts for Grace Place, sure, but I really doubt the plumber and electrician are going to put in a lot of energy into “liking” me. They like me just fine because I pay their bills as soon as they come in, no net 30 or 60 days with me.  By the way, no matter what light bulbs turn on during this social media blog, having a few people really like me is going be worth way more than a bunch of thumbs up!

So since I don’t have infographics on my social media following, I need to determine my target audience, so that maybe one day I can come back and study the makeup of them.  I came across   The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to Finding Your Audience in Social Media. Ultimate Beginner, that’s definitely me!


In it, Alison Zeringue, said to start with Demographics.  Who are they, where are they, is there anything distinguishable about them, sex, race, age, income etc.  Grace Place is open to everyone, target-audiencebut there’s an old saying in marketing, if you talk to everyone, then you are talking to no one.  At Grace Place we focus on the marginal in our society.  One of our organizations feeds and clothes the homeless and we have a number of self-help groups like AA, they are people who have lost their jobs, homes, families.  But we also have social groups like Seniors Bridge and dancing.  So I would classify Grace Place demographics in a broad way as Greater Brampton Area, Non-profit Organizations.  Nothing is ever that easy.  I have other target audiences; I have funders (government and foundations) that I also want to keep informed and engaged so they like me (see comments on thumbs up above).  In the future I may need donations for capital projects, so how do I get people who might be interested in what we do and would donate that I may not know, engaged?  I also have the church members who may or may not be interested in what is going on.  I want to engage in some way with people who come to programs at Grace Place and people who may need the programs that are offered.  So does this mean I have five target audiences?  Do I engage them differently?  I am sure I will learn the answers as I move along the process.  For those of you who are ahead of me, I would appreciate some input on this.


Next I have to look at the Psychographics. I need to look at their values, lifestyle (I think psychographicsthe part about asking what kind of TV shows they watch doesn’t apply to me). People who come to Grace Place are either in need of help and support or are socially active. Now I have to determine what features they appeal to them, why they use us and do they use it in a certain way.  Again, in a broad way, the features that appeal to organizations are easily accessible space, very economical and flexible space to be used as needed, with no long term commitment.

 Aspirational Customers

Now I move to Aspirational Customers who are the customers I don’t have now, but would like to.  Those are pretty much the same as the customers I have now, I would just likehaven more, ditto for funders.  I would like to bring in more of the organizations who could deal directly with the homeless or those with addiction issues.  They would like to come, just not pay.  Would I like to have business and government use our facility because they have deeper pockets – absolutely.  Is that realistic – no, we are an old church hall and no matter how professional and neutral I make the space, it is still attached to a church (so government is not interested) and is an old building (not character old, just old) so it doesn’t make a good impression for business.  I will keep working on the first set of aspirational customers, but will not concentrate on government and business for now.

Now What?

So now that I have some broad assumptions, how do I drill down to who I really want in my social network circle?  Maybe I should have started with the question, how do I start a social network circle?  There are lots of articles on how to increase your following, it takes a lot (I mean a lot) of searching to find an article on how to start (knowing my luck they say the same thing).  I finally found one that I can pull some points from to get me started.  In “4 Easy Steps to Promote Your Business on Social Media when You Have No Followers“, Bill Flitter writes:

Follow to be followed. Makes sense, if I want to be noticed, they I should notice others.  So for me the first step is to follow all of the organizations at Grace Place who have social media, and for the smaller groups iffollowing they have a national or provincial body, follow them.  Second step, follow my funders.  That was easy, now it starts to get interesting because I need to target; organizations I want to use Grace Place; funders I want to support us in the future, community members who I want to be informed; people who may need the services of the organizations who meet at Grace Place.  Then maybe I want to extend to businesses or organizations that are similar enough to me to learn from.

Add Hashtags: That’s that twitter stuff right? I went to Hashtagify to see what it was all about. I can do a search based on a subject and see what comes up. If I find something useful then I can like it or re-tweet it. As much as this sounds good, I think I am going to start by re-tweeting my local network, then build up to publishing my own and re-tweeting outside content. Baby steps.

Share Content Written by Prospects and Influencers:  The easiest way to come up with content is to let someone else do it.  This is a good idea for a newbie like me.  I can see what my community writes about, responds to, timing and layout, then as I get more confident, I will know what is acceptable for my community, then start to create my own content.

Promote Social Accounts in Your Email Signature, Website and Blog:  This is probably the easiest thing I have to write about yet!  If you don’t tell anyone you are there, how will they know where to look?  Consider it done! Once I have a Twitter account and blog, that is.

Then he says to branch out:

Join a Twitter chat: So now I am going to join a Twitter chat or a Facebook group tweet_chatand contribute content. I can feel the gates of hell opening up just thinking about it. Obviously I need to research the most appropriate group in my area (community and influence) to make sure I am not wasting my time and this will give me the best chance for results

Get active on Quora:  Quora ( is a question and answer site managed by its community. This may be one step too far for me. I am not looking to be a consultant and I am not sure it would move traffic to me. Never say never, but probably not. Cool though, I may play with it personally, just for fun.

So now that I have figured out how to start building up my target network, there is some work to be done. Maybe once I get through all these steps, after a while I can start using all the analytics I keep reading about.  But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

One thought on “How to Examine a Target Audience When You Don’t Have One

  1. Starting from scratch does feel a little overwhelming; once we master one thing, it is out of fashion. I am guessing that the various platforms will change over the years, but the concept of engaging in conversation through following and being followed will stay the course. Thanks for your findings and the links that will lead me on an Internet wander. 🙂

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