5 Things to Know about Consumer Behavior … And 1 Helpful Secret

When we think of social media today, most of us go straight to Facebook and Twitter. We might also jump on Instagram or Snapchat if we’re targeting Millennials, and LinkedIn if we’re thinking about reaching a professional audience.

But how do you connect with older men who are not on Facebook and are interested in cars and tires? Think message boards.

This was one of the takeaways from a Virginia Professional Communicators talk, “Online Consumer Behaviors and Emerging Technologies,” given by Feedback Executive Vice President Dean Browell, Ph.D. This company, with offices in Richmond, New York City, London and Paris, specializes in customer behavior, message testing and research. 

Here are five things to know about consumer behavior: 

  1. To find your target audience, look to any “social network” that offers User Generated Content such as Message Boards and review sites (Yelp, GlassDoor), especially if you are looking for a narrow and specific target audience, such as North Carolina watermen or Virginia insurance adjusters. Hashtags are also a quick way to find people with specific interests. In some ways, hashtags are mini message boards.
  2. Mine message boards in any area of interest from mountain biking to childhood cancer through Board Reader and review sites for influencers — those who post and engage the most.
  3. Just because you know where to find your target audience on social media, doesn’t mean they want you marketing and advertising there. However, monitoring the conversation offers clues as to when those audiences are active and what’s on their minds.
  4. Understand the “sales cycle,” and that consumers rarely find out about your product or service and go straight to the purchase/transaction stage. The process begins with activation or awareness, research and shopping before the transaction takes place.

    A positive experience may turn a consumer into a passionate advocate who shares on social media, as well as via word of mouth, adding endorsements for your next potential customer.
  5. Be cautious about relying on influencer dashboards such as Klout, which often have sophisticated algorithms, but lack the human element to discern differences among key words. Is Klout really an indicator of the quality of the engagement?
In some ways, hashtags are mini message boards.

Finally, Browell suggested that, at least once a year, you should pretend to be your target audience and think about what networks you would use and go to those channels. You just might be surprised by what you learn.

Helpful Secret

Along that same idea, local Richmond connector Peter Kaufman with HoopleWorks suggests calling your own office using an unknown phone when you are out and see what kind of reception you get. You might be surprised at what you hear!

Sande Snead has been a consultant with Rhudy & Co. since 2012. She is active on Facebook and Twitter and is working on her Klout score.