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Do you know exactly who you want to reach, but not exactly where to find them online? For today’s reader question, I’m looking deeper into how we can find the people we want to reach online. My biggest challenge is to find my target group. I know who I want to reach, but where do I find them digitally [...]

by Jerry “Doctor Spin” Silver // Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn
Senior Digital Strategist // Spin Factory

Do you know exactly who you want to reach, but not exactly where to find them online? For today’s reader question, I’m looking deeper into how we can find the people we want to reach online.

My biggest challenge is to find my target group. I know who I want to reach, but where do I find them digitally — and how do I stand out from the crowd in that channel? – Eva-Lena, Sweden.

I love this question, but it’s a tough one to answer since it focuses on the core challenge of all marketing; how to find and reach the right people with the right message.

Here goes:

The Paid-Earned-Owned Perspective

There are many ways to view the online landscape. One perspective way is to look at it through a lens of paid, earned and owned. Because in terms of finding and activating people, what makes you successful when it comes to paid, for instance, won’t make you successful in earned or owned. And vice versa.


So, from a paid, earned and owned perspective, let’s take a look at how to find and activate people online.

How To Reach And Activate People (Paid)

Today, there’s so many smart ways to use various social networks (including search engines) to target specific people, not only based on demographics like age, location or gender but more increasingly also on actual behaviours and advanced lookalike modelling techniques.

Before you even begin to look at advertising as a way of reaching people, you need to ask yourself what content you’ll be putting in front of people?

Examples Of Advertising Tools For Finding Target Groups

How Do I Compete In Paid Channels?

Your competitive edge in paid channels are:

  • Message/market fit.

It’s popular to talk about achieving product/market fit and when it comes to advertising online, it’s your message that needs to fit the market. If you show people an ad and they like it, your cost per view or cost per click will be cheaper, your reach will be greater and your ad will be better received.

So the key is to see how you can segment people in Facebook for instance and based on that data, create content that fits their interests — as well as yours, of course. having a better message/market fit is how you beat your competitors in this game.

[ctt title=”Advertising used to be all about being creative — now it’s all about research and psychology.” tweet=”Advertising used to be all about creativity — now it’s all about research and psychology: via @doktorspinn” coverup=”vn58D”]

How To Reach And Activate People (Earned)

There are 2 basic strategies to locate and engage specific publics:

  • Find situations that activate them and piggyback.
  • Create situations that activate them and promote.

People are communicative beings. They want to take part in the conversation — and the online landscape makes this a possibility for most people:

Example 1: If I want to reach a specific public, I look at who’s engaging them today. Then I find a way to collaborate with that influencer to reach their audience.

Example 2: If I want to create a public, I manifest a cause that will engage them. Then, for momentum, I reach out to public leaders to get them onboard first.

Examples Of PR Tools For Finding Influencers

How Do I Compete In Earned Channels?

Your competitive edge in earned channels are:

  • Gift status.

There’s this popular saying about sharing in social media:

“I don’t share your message because I care about your brand, I share because I care about myself and my friends.”

The trick here is to develop a message that people will want to share because it’s engaging to them and their peers. This sounds simple enough, but many companies struggle with inside-out thinking. They mistake their own engagement (“we now have new super cool new features to offer!”)  with the engagement of their publics.

So how to check if your message really has achieved gift status? First, ask yourself if you would share the message with your friends. Second — test it.

How To Reach And Activate People (Owned)

Understanding who actively seeks you out online is often referred to as inbound marketing. Some would say that the cornerstone of inbound marketing is content marketing, other people would say it’s search marketing and others conversion. But they are all closely linked together.

Understanding what value your desired customer base actively is looking for is the first step and the second step is, of course, to offer that value to them. If your offer is more valuable than everyone else’s, your content will function as a magnet for online engagement.

Examples Of Inbound Tools For Finding Publics

How Do I Compete In Owned Channels?

Your competitive edge in owned channels are:

  • Value offer.

Use a service like Buzzsumo to research what other online publishers are offering to a specific public. Then ask yourself — can you create content (or offer service) that will be more valuable than what others in that niche are currently offering?

Creative content and click-friendly headlines might help in some instances, but you should really aim for helping real people with real challenges.

Conclusion: Finding Publics Online

Message/market-fit, gift status and value offer will help you find publics online and stand out in a crowded and competitive channel. But how exactly do you execute these 3 strategies? Well, that have to be 3 separate blog posts!

What great online PR tools are you using? Please share in the comments.

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Behind the keyboard:

Jerry Silver is the author of Doctor Spin, a PR blog that's been around for 15+ years. Via his agency Spin Factory, Jerry is advising brands on how to adapt to a 'digital first' world. In 2016, Cision Scandinavia named him "PR Influencer of the Year". Jerry lives in Stockholm, Sweden with his wife Lisah, news anchor and television host, and their three-year-old son, Jack.

Doctor Spin’s comment policy:
“Great minds discuss ideas, average minds discuss events, small minds discuss people.”
— Eleanor Roosevelt

Reader reactions:

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Christian Ronnerstam

Great article, this sums up loads of angles where people struggle today.

One interesting point is also to start by gathering data about the product and what is said about it by others in general on a specific market, this would give an indication on how big the media volume is in the field, what channels are most used, what content that is performing best (what content is consumed the most). And a new one: what sentiment you’ve got in this instance. That makes the research on finding peoples problems/solutions easier. Here is a great tool for that: infomap:r

In general: I love that we’ve finally reached a point where this is the next step for a lot of companies out there.

As usual, great writing Dr.

Doctor Spin

I just checked out Modular Streams and infomap:r. Really cool stuff — and especially that it originates from Sweden. Given that we also have the cool stuff that Gavagai are looking into when it comes to semantic analysis and what we did at Whispr when I was there with predictive social media analysis. Data is sexy, data is the future.

As a sidenote: This reminds me of Mattias Östmar and when he pitched his PRfekt semantics engine some six or seven years ago. He built an analytics tool that ran texts and grouped them according to Myer-Briggs personas. I mean, that’s sort of awesome, right?

If one would have combined that somehow with sentiment analytics, haha. That would be so awesome.

Doctor Spin

Testing to leave a comment, mentioning @doctorspin:disqus.