Peter Watson: One size doesn’t fit all when advertising on social media

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Everyone is different: different interests, ages, jobs, income and behaviours.

So why, in 2017, a year where diversity is celebrated, are brands not recognising these differences by marketing to everyone in the same way, and with the same message?

The fact that brands still create content and TV adverts for the masses confuses me.

We need to understand that within the target market we are hoping to reach, there are many unique audiences that can be communicated with on a more personal level.

Last year we were contacted to help promote a TV-advert style video through Facebook. This is a fairly regular occurrence: companies often create fantastic video content and then need to reach their audience with it.

When watching the video to assess its suitability and to gain a better understanding of the company (the video was well shot, fast paced and held our attention), we noticed a common mistake.

The message was very generic, and didn’t appeal to any specific audience’s needs, desires, etc.

Whilst making the video generic to avoid creating multiple versions may have saved on initial cost, the company did themselves a disservice because the advert isn’t as relatable as it could have been: missing out on a bigger potential return.

Example: Promoting a supermarket

Traditionally a TV advert would be created with a range of people representing the target audience (mothers predominantly) buying products from the store.

This would of course be accompanied by a catchy jingle to match their previous adverts, and a call to action (whether it be a logo or an offer) would round up the advert.

If this format was translated across to social media, we would first advise that three separate videos be created, each with a different audience in mind. For example, one would feature a mother, one featuring a couple of students, and another featuring the elderly.

How we may approach promoting a supermarket to different sub-sections of their target market


If I, as a 23-year-old male, saw an advert featuring a mother shopping for her family of four, I would instantly switch off and not be interested, as it doesn’t play into my needs.

However, if I was to see an advert which had someone my age buying the groceries that I would normally purchase, I would be more interested to watch the advert and see what this supermarket can offer me.

This is the same for every sector and business, even if it is B2B company we are helping to promote or target, we will break down the audience into small segments to see if we can target adverts more effectively.

If we are looking to target young female CEOs, we shouldn’t show them the same advertising as an older male executive, even if though they hold the same position in their respective companies.

How can we learn from this?

We need to start putting ourselves into our customers’ shoes, assessing our audience and splitting them into sub-sections, rather than trying to speak to everyone with a one-size-fits-all approach.

Once this has been done, and you have smaller, niche audiences you are looking to target, you can then discuss and decide which individual messages should be shared in order to relate to them.

Marketing and more specifically, social media is very much an art; it requires lots of testing and sampling of audiences and content to see what works, then adapt and scale once the winning formula has been found.

Some of your audiences may work very well, and likewise, some may completely flop: however, these will help shape and make your marketing more cost effective, productive and profitable in the future.