How to appeal to subcultures on social media

Audience targeting can be challenging in social media, especially when brands make quick assumptions about their target users. How can you avoid generalisation and what are the real benefits of it?

All brands need to seek new ways to tap into communities, but the problem is that many of them have an “average” user in mind when crafting their strategies. Is there really an average user though?

Laurent François, founder of RE-UP, talked at Integrated Live 2016 about the importance of appealing to the subculture in social media, offering useful points on why brands need to invest more in their actual audience.

Don’t assume you know your customer

It’s easy to assume that you know your customer, especially after creating the buyer personas that fit into your brand’s criteria. As useful as they may be, they are not always accurate, or they may only represent your audience partially.

Brand content can be boring and the lack of cultural relevancy can create problems for brands trying to understand their audience.

It may be time then to leave out the average target customer you have in mind, which leads to an average marketing value chain. The results won’t necessarily be disappointing, but how about improving your strategy by learning more about the subcultures you’re targeting with your content?


Subcultures should be at the core of brands, as they allow them to set an identity, create more meaningful goals and thus, increase their profit through the proper understanding of their community.


How tapping into subcultures can spread word of mouth

It’s worth the effort to understand the subcultures that are relevant to your brand, or the new ones you want to target, as this may lead to multiple benefits.

  • Share values and visions: when a brand manages to transfer its values and visions to its audience, then this leads to a mutual understanding, which can increase trust, loyalty and advocacy.
  • Consistent storyline: once the values and visions are shared, then a brand creates a consistent storyline, which is appreciated by its audience and brings a general consistency to its message.
  • Roles and duties with diverse social layers: it’s valuable to have an audience (and a brand) coming from different roles, duties and social layers, as this diversity creates an improved understanding.


Social networks are ideal for tapping into subcultures, as they owe their growth to all the different users who formed their own smaller communities. Brands are asked to find the right way to reach each community, by learning more about them, engaging and adding value in the users’ own terms.


How Puma tapped into a diverse audience

Puma wanted to expand its audience, so it decided to collaborate with Rihanna, who launched her own collection with the brand. The promotion of the collection occurred through the brand’s own profile, through a new branded profile for the collection, but also through the singer’s popular accounts.

This ensured that the sports brand reaches a wide and diverse audience by creating the right content for each community. Despite the chances of reaching a segment of customers twice, if it’s still performed in different ways, it maintains (or even increases) the chances of building a relationship with them.



If your brand still fails to understand its target audience, then maybe it’s time to leave aside the average target users and focus on all the smaller communities and subcultures that truly define the people you want to reach.

This may help a brand find its authentic voice, a tool that’s powerful enough to increase valuable engagement, which can turn into trust and eventual conversions.

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