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Ryan Gibson

Social Lead

There’s a point that any brand with a trade and retail offering comes across at some point in their marketing journey – that point when they have to make a decision about what their social media channels are for and how to use them as part of a wider marketing strategy. This might sound like a relatively simple challenge to tackle, but it’s actually not so easy to unpick. Here’s why.

Let’s take a fictional home interiors brand as an example. This brand has a retail range that appeals to an audience of predominantly female empty nesters. It also offers a trade range that is popular among tradespeople, usually male and slightly younger. Both of these audiences are prolific users of Facebook and Instagram, so the brand identifies these as the main channels at the heart of its social media strategy. Job done, right? Not necessarily.


As far as target audiences go, these two couldn’t be any more different. The retail audience predominantly uses social media to keep up with family and friends, not following or engaging with many brands. From the brands they do follow in the home interiors space, they’re looking for inspiration, advice on trends, practical tips, tricks and how tos. The trade audience on the other hand uses social media in a more eclectic way, following and engaging with lots of brands, looking to them for everything from product advice and offers through to news and light entertainment.


In this instance, how should the brand use these channels? Both audiences are equally important to their bottom line, but both use the platforms in completely different ways. The problems arise because on organic social at least, there’s no way of controlling who visits your page and sees your content. It’s not possible to restrict a page to specific audiences, and because the best content needs to be tailored to what your followers want to see and engage with, the danger is that you’ll end up trying to appease them both with a Frankensteinian content strategy.


Any brand that’s facing a similar challenge should ask themselves these important questions before making a decision.


Can we divide and conquer?


The first question the brand should ask themselves is can we attempt to segregate our trade and retail audiences in separate spaces, for example, by creating dedicated pages or profiles for each one.

While it means carving up the brand’s social footprint, this should always be the first port of call as it provides the freedom and flexibility to really commit to creating content with the audience front of mind.


Making it clear that the page or profile is for trade or retail through the name and handle is important to prevent any confusion, as is the need for occasional signposting so people can find the right page for them quickly and easily.


Can we build a community?


Following on from the question above, this takes it one step further and questions whether a private community like a Facebook Group would serve the audience better.


Groups have seen significant growth in popularity on Facebook over recent years, but are still criminally underutilised used by brands. This is surprising as Group posts tend to have greater visibility in user’s newsfeeds due to preferential treatment from the algorithm.


For a retail audience seeking inspiration, tips, tricks and how tos, building a Group community to facilitate conversation and discussion could actually be a better way of aligning your brand with the wants and needs of customers.


Can we diversify our channels? 


As well as asking yourself whether it’s possible to segregate audiences on the same channel, it’s also worth exploring the possibilities of diversifying across other channels as well.


With a deeper understanding of the audience, it may transpire that other channels such as Pinterest, TikTok and Twitter might also present great opportunities to reach potential trade and retail customers. This would alleviate some of the pressure from trying to cater to both audiences on Facebook and Instagram.


Diversification doesn’t necessarily mean being on every channel, although it could do if your audience research and insight demonstrates that there’s a valid business case to do so. But don’t forget, your content strategy will need to diversify as well, rather than using the same content across every channel.


Can we leverage paid instead?


The obvious benefit about paid social is the ability it gives brands to reach audiences with laser-targeted precision based on a range of geographic, demographic and interest-based criteria. Unlike organic social, you can most definitely control who sees your content.


When it comes to tailoring content to trade and retail audiences, paid offers the best way for brands to ensure they are getting in front of the people they need to at the right time. And smart use of exclusion criteria also prevents any possibility of crossover between the two.


Having a crystal clear picture of what your audience looks like is crucial to an effective paid social strategy, as the more targeted your campaigns can be, the more likely you’ll see the results you want to achieve, whether that’s engagement, brand awareness or sales.


If you’ve asked yourself all the questions above and are still left with the choice of either speaking to the same audiences on the same channels or doubling down on one, then I would always recommend the latter. A content strategy that tries to appease two very different audiences with a mix of content will always end up not satisfying either of them. Be brave and pick the audience you want to own on that channel and really commit to creating a content strategy that’s tailored to them.

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