How to Target Users within Social Networks

SMS Text

One important aspect of social media optimiza­tion is finding individuals interested in your prod­ucts or initiatives. One way to approach this is to find key influencers within a social network that might be interested in your offering.

This can be a difficult challenge at times therefore targeting and approaching the right people is key. With the help of Google one can alleviate some of the challenges that occur when searching for these people inside each network, as each network can be finicky when it comes to searching for users.

With the right search query used in Google, it is fairly easy to find these individuals. Here is one example: “ led zeppelin”. In this query, we took, which indexes profiles pages with personal interests (so long as that user has not turned off that feature in privacy settings) Now that you are able to find users on Facebook who have stated interest in Led Zeppelin you can approach them with much more certainty that they would be interested in your offering or service.

Once you have identified a group of users to outreach to you need to fine tune your pitch. I find success when the pitch typically is short, sweet, and to the point. Remember users on social networks are there to “hang out” per se and don’t want to be lambasted by pushy marketers, so make sure your offering is irresistible.

In the above example, we found users who are fans of Led Zeppelin, on Facebook, however this can be done on many other Social Networks. Below are example searches to use on 8 different social networks:

Linkedin inurl:in “social media expert”

Bebo inurl:profile inurl:bebo “social media expert”

CafeMom “stay at home mom”

Facebook “led zeppelin”

Flickr “@gmail”

Twitter -inurl:statuses -inurl:status “social media expert”

MySpace inurl:myspace inurl:fuseaction “go to nc state”

YouTube “social media expert”

Since it can be somewhat cumbersome to recreate these search queries on a whim I have designed a social search tool to help users. It’s a very basic Google gadget that has hard coded search queries into it, thus allowing you to simply query the respective social network.

Brian Chappell is the Senior Social Search Strategist at Ignite Social Media. With over 9 years of web design and search engine optimization experience, Brian has developed an in-depth organic search optimization background. He monitors, analyzes, and optimizes social media initiatives for Ignite. You can find him on Twitter @brianchappell

Brian Chappell
Social Search Strategist for Ignite Social Media who is always dabbling in side projects
Brian Chappell
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  • Dipali

    Hi Brian,

    really awesome insights explored over here. I used to follow people of same interst by searching #web analytics or #seo in twitter.

  • Tag44

    Nice post, very well information resource shared here, now i do add only my target users in the social networking sites.

  • Vinny LaBarbera

    Great information Brian, thank you. This will most definitely come in handy for both social media vets (not quite sure what that is yet) and novices alike.

  • Ann Donnelly

    It may seem like common sense to those that use search engines a lot, but the average social media peaople may not have thought of this and find this very helpful. I tried out the tool and it’s great – and now bookmarked! Thanks.

  • Loren Baker, Editor

    Thanks Brian, I added this to my iGoogle page and it’s one of the only apps I’ve ever added to that page, which says something 🙂

  • Brian Chappell

    @ann Thanks Ann. I had not seen a post discussing this sort of tactic (even though seo’s have been using query operators to farm link prospects for years now) with regards to targeting users within social networks so thought I would create a post on the subject, as well as build a tool that users could utilize.

    @loren Its a really basic gadget but something that can be of help to marketers. We do plan on updating it as well as site structure changes with networks, and as new social networks become of value.

    With that said I do encourage users to give us feedback and we will try and add the network they want, if they don’t currently see it on the list.

  • gudipudi

    i am really excited and infact cursed myself for having not thought about these basics….wonderful post Brain… and its time for me to get back to my basics

  • Social Media Commando

    Social Networks + Better Targeting = WIN

    Labeling oneself a ‘Social Media Expert’ = FAIL

    • Loren Baker, Editor

      Don’t think Brian labeled himself as an expert, Mr. Social Media Commando 🙂

      • Mike Hernalsteen

        I don’t think this was an attack against Brian, rather, calling out the folks who label themselves ‘Social Media Experts’ in their SM profiles. At least, that’s how I read it.

    • Jon Henshaw

      LMAO! Painting your face with what looks like feces and the aftermath of a bad bout of gonorrhea, and then putting it on the header image of your marketing website = FAIL

  • Ben Hebert

    Great post, I think it’s interesting how you took the example further by illustrating all of the different means of searching on the different social networking sites.

  • JwalaKiran

    Nice post!

    “Targeting people through social media sites”
    1) Select enough number of Social media sites which are appropriate to your business.(and also create profiles in top ranked social media sites)
    2) Create a profile, that should reflect your business(products & services)
    3) Connect with other users (This is not a easy task)
    a) Identify users who are interested in your products & Services(type of) as BRIAN mentioned. It may give you a less count because your are one of many
    b) add as many as users you can(follow your own strategy)
    4) Target users with right content, don’t irritate them as BRIAN mentioned

    In return to all these efforts what you will get is online visibility and more credibility in the market.

    What I mean is, for example if a user searching for a product in “google” or “bing” etc… , and your website also came in top 5 in the list(say your SEO is good),what user will say is hey man I saw you in “linkedin”, oh you also sell these type of products, OK let me have a look at it.

    What you are doing here is you are increasing the probability for your site being clicked.

  • Shawn Walsh

    Nice post! Useful information. I retweeted and bookmarked it.


  • SEOtraining

    Thanks for such a great post. I always wondered if this was possible – now I know exactly what to do and how to do it.

  • Nick Stamoulis

    It is little ways like this that many people really don’t know about that can really deliver some highly targeted traffic to a website.

  • Gerald Weber

    Wow the search tool is really cool. This is going to be very useful and a time saver for many.

  • non chexsystems banks

    Great post. Very helpful tips. It will be useful for the newbies like me.

    Be back to read more.

  • Max

    That was a great post. But as you and I know, reaching out to these people is a very dicey proposition. It is considered spam in many respects. I have tried something similar and found the feedback and response from the users very hostile. I would be curious on how you go about reaching out to these people – an example of the message you would send out.

    • Brian Chappell

      @max That is so true. In reality that sounds like another good follow up post I should work on.

      Typically I try to find peoples emails, or heck even a phone number depending on what it is. In network emails typically are not too well received (although not to say they don’t work if its the right fit)

  • Garrett French

    some more twitter queries for you…

    via @juliejoyce 🙂

  • Shailendra Singh

    Hi Brian,
    Really You are Great. Awesome post 1st time i got such thing, now i can use all social site to promote our business and add people to our site related. Thnx a lot brain.

  • Jason Baer

    One of the most purely useful posts I’ve read in 2009. Period.

    • Brian Chappell

      Thanks for the kind thoughts Jason!

  • SiobhanFromDragon

    Great article! I’ll be forwarding this on to the newbies here at DragonSearch. Very helpful!

  • Bennie Stark

    Hey Brian,

    This is a nice read and also a good information overload about social media networks.

    You’re indeed an expert.

    I’ll be following your suggestions.

    Thanks for sharing.

  • Pratik

    Thanks Brian, this is very interesting topic i have ever read, and i will use this in my strategy of social media optimization. this will help….

  • Media Chandler

    I am a new web marketer from Alabama and the information you have provided rocks! I will for sure look at my social networking game in a different way! Thanks! Johnny

  • gregluque1

    Great advice to optimize social site strategies but be careful of spamming

  • Lev Testing

    I found this page via a link from SE Land and even though it’s a few years old now the information is still very useful. I have saved these search strings so I can reach out to specific users of these sites and build relationships with them as part of my backlink building.

    Great advice and thanks again.