How B2B brands can avoid defaulting to job titles when segmenting in social


We have been banging the audience-first drum relentlessly for the last few years. Why? Because it is the best way to deliver results in social. More recently I discussed the merits of micro-targeting in social media: finely slicing your customer segments to ensure you can deliver relevancy at scale. In other words, being even more focused on audience-first.

And micro-targeting has never been more essential than when it comes to B2B in social. In fact, identifying buyers around business pain points and then slicing segments by their position in the purchase journey is the future of B2B social. It is the heart of social lead gen, and the only way to get cut through for awareness in an increasingly crowded space.

The trouble is that many B2B brands default to targeting by job title. Usually through LinkedIn (which is not necessarily a good thing). So how can brands create defined segments of social media audiences that go beyond the job title?

Use a tool and think laterally

Apparently 20% of B2B Marketers do not have a social media tool. I suspect when it comes to third-generation tools that can dig deeply into conversations that number goes up quite a bit! The reality is that outside of LinkedIn (which doesn’t share its data) tools can prove immensity insightful – uncovering buyers across all the social channels. Lack of tools, means marketers are blind to the other platforms and hence default to LinkedIn.

But a tool technology itself is only a small part of identifying your customer segments. The hard work is in the analyst who sets up the tool. You need to think laterally when identifying buyers. They rarely share their job function and even more rarely declare their buying intention. You need a marketer with smarts that can distil key words, repeatedly interrogate the data and define the journeys and personas.

Go outside of social media

Not all the answers are in social media (I can’t believe I said that!). A good marketer will also lean on other insights. For instance, customer data (helping you build lookalike audiences), industry research, bespoke surveys, etc. you get the gist. Sometimes, starting with wider insights and then honing down to social can upturn insights on audience personas that you just couldn’t see before

Test and learn with paid

A more pragmatic move, when you are not sure of audience behaviours, is to test them. You start by roughly splitting audiences into multiple test groups. Then run small paid campaigns (so you can target accurately) against each. Rather quickly you can see what content resonates with which group and which segment performs best. Oftentimes (especially in segments with mixed decision making units) you uncover the specific audiences and personas that are most likely to engage, move through the purchase journey and become a sale.

Armed with these insights, you can go back to your social data and scale against the same criteria. You’d be surprised at the rich source of prospects you can uncover in this way.


Above all, if you want to be audience-first, invest the time up-front to create and refine segments. Get to know your buyers. Not only will it help you with better targeting (ensuring your paid budget stretches further), it will help you create content that resonates and has purpose. There really should be no reason to just target job titles anymore!

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