Build Your Business:

Social Work

Figure 1

March 3, 2015

For the past few months, you’ve read my articles about the differences between analog and digital marketing. The attention has been on understanding your market and some of the tools you can use to access and connect with your customers. Those tools include email lists, auto responders and list segmentation.

Let’s focus on the ground-breaking potential social media holds for you and your business beyond the obvious conversations taking place there. It’s most likely not what you imagine.

Social media is about reaching out to your prospects and customers, and connecting with them in a meaningful way. This is the most recognized role of social media — to identify and connect. It’s about social conversations, not buying conversations. People are on social media to be social. The conversations are between friends and friends of friends. As I’ve said numerous times in the past, the single biggest mistake businesses make is constantly pitching their audience instead of listening to what they’re saying. This article is about using the data behind those conversations and social media behaviors.


The first generation of Internet marketing was about using keywords to identify your potential market. Google and others built their empires around keyword-driven search and we still use it on a daily basis. But this is declining rapidly. The days of keyword search and search engine optimization (SEO) are being replaced with a new kind of interaction. The rise of social media and social media analytics is changing all of this.

The evolution now is about reaching your audience through behavioral buying. This is where social behavior, data collection and analysis all come together. The playing fields are the social media platforms. Virtually 100% of them collect every single click, like, share, post and comment you make. Not only that, but they track your travels over the Internet and every site you visit, each ad you click, and every purchase you make. It’s been happening for quite some time, but the average small- to medium-sized business hasn’t been able to access the power of it. That’s all changed — and continues to change — on a weekly basis.

For our first example, we’ll use the popular website When you make a selection, the first thing you see will be a new screen that shows you “Frequently Bought Together” and “Customers Who Bought This Also Bought” Amazon is guiding your purchasing behavior by providing social proof of what others, like you, have purchased. Their goal is to increase the user experience while, at the same time, increasing the average sale.

The site further reinforces this by providing starred and narrative reviews by other consumers. This is important because the reviews are coming from consumers and not the company selling the goods or services. It’s the same for Netflix, iTunes, eBay, Yelp and most large e-commerce sites. Amazon also allows you to provide feedback on how valuable a review was for you.

The opportunity is to precisely define who we want to do business with. Or better yet, we can define the community with which we want to interact, bringing our own brand of trust, authority and value. The goal of every online seller is to be seen as the trusted authority in his area of specialization. This goal will shape the kinds of decisions you’ll be making.

For instance, many small decorators will take any job that comes through their doors. After all, business is business, right?


There is no way you can become a trusted authority when every job is different. It’s next to impossible to deliver outstanding quality and exceed customer expectations when you take this route. Let’s put this in context and continue the aforementioned Amazon example. If this the first time you’ve done a particular type of work, how can you possibly know what others have purchased or recommend complementary goods and services? How can you collect positive reviews? How can you get others to start positive conversations about you and your business?

The answers to the above questions lie in how you identify and connect with your desired target markets. I will be using Facebook and Twitter as examples but you can do the same for LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram, Tumblr and others.

In Facebook, start by using “Graph Search.” It’s the search bar at the top of the page when you log in. Remember, we’re looking to determine how large the audience is and how that audience behaves. Graph Search is only the beginning.

Start by doing a quick assessment of your competition. Search for them and see how many “Likes” they have on their page. Visit their page and take a look at what they are posting. Use Likealyzer ( to enter their Facebook page and analyze it for engagement. It’s a great free tool I use everyday.

Pay particular attention to the kinds of comments and dialog in their posts. Are they all about specials, promotions, special deals, limited time offers and so on? How many of their posts show their work in the customer environment? How many customers’ comments and posts have been added? Do those posts get shared? You are looking for engagement. Also look at the “People Talking About That” (PTAT) number. This also shows engagement. will show you either a red X or green check mark to let you know what is good or bad relative to others in this space.

Going beyond your competitors, your next step is to use the Facebook Ads Manager to begin creating your own custom audiences. To use the Ads Manager, you need to have a Facebook page to which you can send advertising. You can have as many pages as you want. I recommend creating them for each area you want to do business in. Examples might be spiritwear, school athletics, local non-profits, local events, local athletics and so on. You don’t need to keep it local. Get creative.

The real data depth comes in creating your audiences and dialing in the size based on their interests and behavior. This includes demographic, geographic, relationship, education, income, interests and behaviors. This is all found under the Audience Insights (AI) button.  

AI is an incredibly powerful source of behavioral data. To use, first define your audience and then click Audience Insights. Facebook will then show you all kinds of information about this audience and, most importantly, similar audiences. It gets better. Facebok also will show you how the similar audiences compare to your audience and the likelihood of them interacting with your audience.  

One of our recent audiences targeted off-road 4×4 enthusiasts. Audience Insights identified the audience profile as: males, single, ages 18-34, with an average income of $36,000-$75,000, high school, some college, renter, living primarily in California, Arizona, Texas, Nevada, New Mexico, Georgia and Oklahoma. It also indicated the most likely occupations as construction and extraction, mechanics, installation, repair, military, forestry and fishing. Not surprising. That was just the tip of the iceberg.

When using Ad Manager, I suggest using Google’s Chrome browser so you can use another data tool called Power Editor. This allows you to further refine the audiences you want to reach.

The most robust conversations taking place in social media are on Twitter. This is where you can get almost instant feedback about your interests in real time. It also is where you can build and connect with your audiences. Your basic research starts using Twitter Search ( This will give you an idea of who is talking about what in your area.

Search for Custom T-Shirts (your city) or Embroidery (your city) and see what you come up with. While it provides a good start, Search is fairly limited. Twitter also has Advanced Search that allows you to find conversations based on keywords, phrases, excluded words, hashtags, people, accounts, mentions, geographic location, date ranges, positive, negative, questions and retweets.

My favorite tool for Twitter is a service called There are free and paid plans for this amazing tool. It is like Twitter Search on steroids. The service is touted as “social prospecting,” which is exactly what it is. It allows you to find all tweets based on behaviors. The idea is to find people who need your goods or services. This goes way beyond finding people who are interested or like your goods and services. campaigns can be set up as real-time alerts so you receive notifications as soon as they are posted on Twitter. You set up campaigns based on target audiences, needs and interests. I especially like the ability to automate, track and respond to tweets as they are published.The possibilities are endless (see Figure 1).

Access to the data behind social media is becoming increasingly common. While it’s still new to most small businesses, the opportunity now is incredible. This amounts to a new set of rules to the same old game. From a business development position, the fastest way to grow in a highly competitive market is to disrupt the status quo with a new way of doing things before your competitor realizes what’s going on. That’s what’s happening here.

The examples included here are available to anyone, at anytime. You can do this. The more experienced and technically competent you become, the more tools are available. The really exciting opportunities lie in being able to access the Application Programming Interface (API) for each of the platforms. In the coming months, I’ll be showing you how this gives you virtually unlimited access to information with which you’ve only dreamed about connecting. You’ll be using this information to better understand the buying and behavior habits of the businesses, groups and individuals to whom you sell.

Clearly this is only scratching the surface. More examples and ongoing discussion can be found in the Facebook Group “Digital Marketing for Graphics.” This is a closed group I started to go deeper and answer questions beyond what can be published here in Impressions. It is a closed group to keep the spammers out. To join, simply request access.

Mark A. Coudray is a respected and well-known industry innovator and strategist. His works have been published in more than 400 papers, columns, features and articles in every major publication in the United States and abroad. Coudray has been an active member of the Academy of Screen Printing and Digital Technology since 1989, and has written for Impressions since 1978. For more information or to contact Mark, email him at