Marketing Strategies

4 ways to build a data-driven social media targeting strategy

Social media marketing can be daunting. The time-sensitive nature of the channel combined with limited resources means there is always a challenge between choosing quality and quantity when it comes to social media campaigns.1 It can be a struggle for brands to pinpoint which social media channels to invest in, which audiences they should target, and how to craft their messaging in a medium that is constantly changing.

However, it’s a challenge that businesses need to take on to remain competitive. 73% of marketers in the State of Social survey said that social media marketing has been effective for their businesses.2 Also, according to MarketingSherpa, 95% of adults ages 18 to 34 are likely to follow a brand on social media.3

Making data-driven decisions can help ensure your brand is the one they follow. To start, consider the following:

1. Target the correct audience for your brand

Successful social media campaigns begin with the mindful process of selecting the appropriate data to create the correct audience. However, not all brands have the in-depth demographic or psychographic data (such as interests and beliefs) needed for advanced segmentation and audience models. Even if a company does feel they have enough information about their audience, third-party data that’s updated in real-time will help ensure that information stays fresh and accurate.

Third-party data is data collected from a variety of websites and platforms which is then aggregated to paint a holistic view of digital consumer spending habits. Insights from third-party data, combined with your own audience data allows you to create a 360-degree view of your customer. This is a collection of all your data points on that consumer- from basic contact information, to past and present purchase data, interactions with customer service, and social media behavior.

Once you have a 360-degree view of the customer, you can use that to create a custom audience. The primary objective of a custom audience is to allow brands to create and target their ideal customers. When you have a custom audience defined by third-party data, you can use that to create an accurate look-alike model. Look-alike models allow you to:

  • Identify your existing best customers
  • Employ advanced statistical analysis and custom modeling to identify prospect households who “look like” your best customers
  • Reach these “best” prospects through a cross-channel media strategy designed to engage and convert these prospects to customers

Once you have your look-alike model, you can create custom audiences on social media platforms that are more accurate. Social media platforms allow brands to build their own look-alike audiences based off first-party data. Platform data is always going to be limited because it’s not keyed on real-world offline data, but signals derived from the platform and operated properties. When targeting on social media, brands should use an audience that includes the insights provided by third-party data. This will allow them to reach the audience that is most likely to convert.

Case Study Example: CPG retailers leverage Data Axle custom data audiences to improve Facebook campaign performance

In the competitive CPG retail space, identifying the correct audience is critical for driving brand engagement, awareness and most importantly, sales. Data Axle serves as a trusted advisor to many of these retailers, who rely on our data accuracy as well as our segmentation and modeling capabilities to reach ideal prospects who ultimately become future customers. By introducing custom data audiences into their omni-channel marketing programs (Social + Email + DM), our clients have seen up to a 40% lift in social response rates when leveraging our tailored audiences relative to standard 3PD audience solutions directly from Facebook. This lift has resulted in not only an increase in online media engagement but has also served as a key driver in primary secondary objectives such as offline sales and brand awareness.

2. Use social to target your B2B prospects

While B2C companies routinely invest in social media strategies, B2B companies can overlook social as an impactful marketing channel. This is a mistake, social media channels can be a powerful tool in the B2B space. Solutions such as B2C Link are designed to deterministically identify executives in their consumer environments using their business attributes, so it becomes easy to target them on social media with their consumer profile. B2C Link is able to leverage offline third-party data, using real-world behaviors and interests tied to a prospect’s personally identifiable information (PII), which results in a high match rate.

For B2B companies, this is especially important when it comes to social media as most of your prospects are signing up for their accounts with their personal email addresses. B2C Link also appends historical email data to improve match rates. By creating a unified business/consumer profile, B2C Link enables you to establish a consumer link to your B2B prospects and engage with them on social media.

Case Study: Pacific Life targets business owners on Facebook
Don’t forget that your business contacts are consumers too. Whether you are a brand that offers products that serve both consumers and businesses or a B2B company looking for new ways to connect with decision makers, you can reach them through their personal Facebook profiles. Pacific Life ran the below ad on Facebook to target small business owners on a more personal social media platform than LinkedIn.

3. Choose the correct channel

Linkedin, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, Reddit – there are so many different channels companies can use to interact with their audience. Facebook boasts over 1 billion users worldwide and Twitter claims the most engagement worldwide. While these stats are impressive, just because a platform has a lot of users or tends to generate engagement, it doesn’t mean it will help you reach your prospects. The best channel to choose is the one your specific target audience live in and engages with. Through customer analysis, you can make more informed decisions on what social platforms to begin testing to gauge which can drive the best results for your business.

Case Study: Amerlux reaches out on Linkedin
B2B LED lighting manufacturer, Amerlux, wanted to drive more potential customers to their blog content. They partnered with an agency that analyzed which platforms their target audience engaged with and how they used those platforms. Their research found that Amerlux’s audience frequently used LinkedIn to get industry news and resources. Amerlux created a campaign that personalized portions of its content. The personalized content imitated the buyer’s journey, starting with the stage the potential buyer was currently perceived to be at and then pushing them down the funnel. This personalized marketing experience drove ~14,500 unique visitors to, with 10,000 individuals visiting the “Locate Your Sales Rep” page and ~350 submitting an inquiry with Amerlux.4

4. Personalize your messaging

Once you know who your clients are, and where you can reach them, you need to craft messaging that resonates with them. 72% of consumers say they only engage with personalized messaging5 , so it’s important to analyze your audience to determine which products and services they need and what messages they will be most responsive to. Some customers find humor engaging and others want product specs. Knowing your audience well enough to personalize your messaging is key to engaging them on social media.


Case Study: Dove connects with their target audience on Twitter
Dove, purveyor of beauty and hygiene products, made national headlines for their Real Beauty campaign in 2004. The campaign featured women of all shapes, colors and ages and the messaging – that all bodies are beautiful – resonated with Dove’s key demographic.. Dove’s image as a body positive brand translated into sales – even 10 years after the campaign launch, Dove product sales rose to $4 billion from $2.4 billion.

In 2016, Dove launched the #Speakbeautiful campaign on Twitter, aimed at the same target audience that made the Real Beauty campaign a success. Dove and found that 80% of their target audience’s tweets were negative. A brand as large as Dove was able to team up with Twitter to build a tool to launch the #SpeakBeautiful project. The tool broke down which body-related words people use the most and when negative chatter appears during the day. According to Dove, women were inspired by their message; #SpeakBeautiful was used more than 168,000 times and drove 800 million social media impressions of the campaign.6 This campaign was successful because Dove knew who their target audience was, understood how they used social media and used messaging tailored to their interests.


Social media is a potentially lucrative marketing channel for both B2C and B2B companies. When it comes to planning out a social media strategy, data insights are the key to successful targeting. A combination of robust first and third-party data allows companies to identify, target and connect with an audience that best represents their high-value customers and will result in increased audience engagement and higher campaign ROI.

Want to learn more about our off-the-shelf and customizable audiences and look-alike modeling?

Contact us and we can get you started on the road to social media success.


Robert Konkos
Vice President Enterprise Division

Ad-tech innovator Robert Konkos has spent his career driving growth by transforming media planning, buying and activation for CPG, Agency, Ad-tech and Publisher verticals. At Data-Axle, Konkos is tasked with creating innovative solutions and forging deep in-market connections for our agency business. Konkos has deep and broad experience in digital media buying and selling. Prior to joining Data Axle, Konkos was VP of Data Sales at IRI. Before that, he served North American Publishing Group as VP of Media, and prior to that, was Senior Marketing/Media Director at eWayDirect.