Social Listening for Audience Insights

Build Your Digital Strategy with Audience Analysis

In social media analytics, it is expected that researchers will learn what is being said in social conversations. However, it’s not just the what in the conversation that is essential, but knowing who is doing the talking in the conversation is equally – or more – important.
Every department of an organization – product development, customer care, consumer insights, executive strategy, marketing, and more – can conduct audience analysis. This can help them to better understand traits and behavior of their current audience, to learn how to serve their current audience, and to potentially uncover new audiences.
Many social media analytics tools provide basic demographic and geographic information about audiences. However, with the advancement of new technology, such output isn’t enough to really understand your audience
Next, we will dive into two different ways that businesses can analyze their audience through social media analytics:

  1. Brand-Specific Approach
  2. Brand-Agnostic Approach: Segments

1. Brand-Specific Approach

When analyzing audiences of a particular brand, businesses can find information about their audience’s demographics, geographics, influencers, and interests.
In this approach, brands are focused in learning more about an audience directly related to a specific brand, instead of analyzing an audience for an industry as a whole. For example, a researcher would analyze those who talk about the ‘Corona’ beer on social media, instead of those who talk about beer in general.


The first step to understand who is doing the talking is to look at the demographics of this audience, and brands that do this will able to answer the following questions:

  • Are we attracting millennials or an older generation?
  • Which gender do we appeal to the most?
  • What is their ethnicity?



In terms of geographics, researchers can find where their audience is from. Using audience analysis, brands can answer the following questions:

  • What country is doing the most talking?
  • Which state is tweeting the most about us? What street are they tweeting from?

Although knowing the age and the location of the audience can be helpful, this information can be limiting when looking for behavioral patterns needed for business decisions, and it could lead to inaccurate stereotyping of the people they want to reach. Due to this limitation, we recommend diving deeper into influencers and interests to have a more holistic understanding of the audience.


When analyzing social media platforms to better understand your audience, you’ll be able to identify influencers, often the most prominent and prolific authors talking about your relevant topics and themes. Some examples of one of the biggest influencers on social media conversations are celebrities and important figures, such as Bernie Sanders, Kylie Jenner, or Guy Kawasaki.


One way to more extensively understand an audience beyond their demographics is by finding their Interests. To better understand how this concept works, consider the interest graph, which shows how a collection of signals and behaviors – what they like, who they follow, what they search for, what they share, and more –  found in their social activity can help predict what these people might be interested in.
More advanced tools use this data they find in their audience’s social activity to find their interests. In our blog on “Best Celebrity Guests for Carpool Karaoke”, we looked into the Late Late Show’s audience’s aggregate interests to learn more about the psychographic interests of this audience, and this is what we found:
In the visual, we can see that interests are high for Robbie Williams, Zooey Deschanel, Ariana Grande, and Usher compared to all of Twitter. In this first example, we see how audience interests can help inform content creation. These interests could provide insights on what Late Late Show viewers might want to see in future Carpool Karaoke series, providing valuable and relevant information for both the casting team and the business overall.

Here’s another case in which audience interest data is useful is for ad targeting: An agency for a major movie studio had the goal to promote released feature films, attracting more fans to the movies’ Facebook pages. Using social media analytics, the agency identified unique interests among people interested in the movies, from primetime TV shows to obscure indie bands. By knowing their interests, media buyers were able to create tailored ads targeting those people’s interests, proving 16% better than campaign averages for click-through rate.

People in the theater. Side view. Dark tone. Focus on clapping hands.

Business men watching football at a sports bar

The following example is an insight from interest data that can give a more comprehensive understanding about the audience:
Consumers chatting about craft beer skew male, 25-34, are concentrated in the northeast and west US, and are more likely to be interested in football compared to the average user on Twitter”.

2. Brand-Agnostic Approach: Segments

In this second approach, businesses essentially reverse their process of audience analysis. Instead of creating a query focusing on a brand-specific audience, the business analyzes a group of people with a common interest. This interest is the starting point for the analysis.

In the Machinima case study, you can see how this advertising company tried to understand more general behavior across gamers playing different games, rather than focusing on the audience for a specific game, such as League of Legends.
Starting off with interests, the researcher can get the same information as in the brand-specific approach: demographics, geographics, influencers, and other interests they might have.


This approach suggests that diving deeper into a broader audience allows the researcher to find different layers of who those people are, discover a new target audience, understand other interests that they might have, uncover unexpected information from the audience that might be useful for future decision making.
Knowing the demographics and geographics of your audience is helpful when you need to get an overall understanding of the audience, but we’ve come to the conclusion that it’s too limited to base strategic decisions off of just these two factors. We believe that whether through the brand-specific approach or the segments approach, in order to gain comprehensive audience insights, you need their demographics, geographics, as well as their psychographics.

Demographics + Geographics + Psychographics = Comprehensive Audience Insights

Interested on how you can leverage social media analytics? Download our latest guide “Business Insights from Social Media Data” to learn how.

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