Social media analytics provides a great way for brands to understand what consumers are saying about their products, ads, competitors and more. But what is being said is only one part of a larger story. Understanding who is doing the talking is just as important.
Audience analysis allows brands to gain a deeper understanding of their current and potential customers to improve marketing strategy, customer experience, and brand perception. As part of our Elements of Social Media Analytics series, this post covers how brands can use audience analysis to create more successful marketing campaigns and advertising.
Why you need to understand your audience
Today, brands understand the importance of targeted marketing. Facebook and Google’s massive growth stems from their ability to sell hyper-targeted advertising. With all of the advertising and marketing technology available, targeting the audience of your choice is the easy part.
The more difficult business questions to answer are things like: Who should you be targeting? What kind of messaging and content should you use for specific groups? What type of campaign will generate the most engagement with this audience?
An example of a brand who recently answered these difficult questions with social media data comes from Fender. They was about to launch a new an exciting new product, The Flea Bass, designed by the beloved Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist. Before launch, they needed to determine the right audience to target and best type of campaign to engage them.
Audience analysis allowed Fender to pinpoint the target audience for the campaign and determine what they liked most about Flea and the Chili Peppers. The results showed that the audience loved Flea’s individuality and that they used words like “fun,” and “weird” to describe Flea’s unique personality.
Using those social insights, Fender developed the #MyFleaStyle campaign. The campaign asked fans to share a photo of their own unique musical style for a chance to win the new bass, with Flea himself picking the winner. The campaign was a massive success because they made a point to understand their audience first.
— Fender (@Fender) September 16, 2016
Without fully understanding the preferences, demographics, and motivations of your audience, your campaigns and your products won’t reach their full potential. In the past, gaining an understanding of your audience could only be accomplished by spending a lot of time and money on surveys and market research firms. Today, social media data helps brands gain actionable business insights about an audience quickly.
What is Audience Analysis?
In social media analytics, audience analysis refers to researching the interests, preferences, demographic, location, and other aspects of a group. This could be a broad audience like “all Tumblr users” or a much narrower group like “millennial female fans of The Bachelor in Massachusetts.” The insights you gain from audience analysis depend on the depth of your research.
While your own audience is a great place to start with audience analysis, looking at your competitor’s audience and comparing it to your own can help you gain insights into how to stay ahead of the competition.
Audience analysis can be branded or unbranded. Branded analysis means looking at the audience for a specific brand (Apple, Microsoft, etc) while unbranded analysis looks at the audience for the type of product and related topics (computers, tablets, technology, etc).
For businesses, the best audience analysis gives you deeper understanding of what compels consumers to support a brand or make a purchase. While understanding the basic demographics of an audience is helpful, it isn’t as powerful of understanding the intricacies of consumer preferences related to your brand and product.
For example, if a coffee chain wants to attract and retain more customers, knowing the demographics of coffee drinkers in key locations is only the first piece of the puzzle. Analyzing the specific coffee preferences of that audience and how they have changed over time can give the brand much more actionable insights on how to engage consumers.
The deeper, customized analysis could reveal that a trend (like a preference for cold brew coffee) is spreading rapidly within the target audience. An insight like this is actionable because it helps brands make informed decisions about updates to improve their menu and advertising.
Locate an audience
One of the simplest insights to gain about an audience is location. You can identify where people are discussing a brand, product, or any other topic. You can also filter other analysis results by location to better understand an audience in a specific place.
Coors conversation (U.S.)
Spotify conversation (Global)
Understand key demographics
Is the audience mostly male or female? What is the age breakdown for the audience? These questions help you gain some basic knowledge about the audience you are analyzing.
Track affinities and interests
Knowing location and demographics is a good start to understanding an audience, but it isn’t enough for the full picture. Learning what an audience cares about is key to understanding its members. If you’re looking at your own audience, you know that they are interested in your brand or products, but what else?
Find new audiences
Understanding your existing audience is the first step to identifying opportunities to expand your audience. For example, Fender know their audience was mostly older males. This led them to identify the opportunity to reach female guitar players.
After assuming that most guitar playing women would be interested in acoustic guitar, an analysis specifically looking at the guitar buying conversation among women showed something different. Many of the women are interested in electric guitars, punk rock, and finding the money to get to make a guitar purchase. Knowing this allowed Fender to effectively speak to this audience.
Segment your audience
Determine how you want to break down your audience into the right segments for better targeting and measurement. Find the smaller segments within your larger audience that would benefit from different marketing and ads.
For example, many retailers might look at the back to school shopping audience as one big group. Our social analysis of the school shopping season showed three distinctly different categories of shoppers, those shopping for: supplies, backpacks, or clothes. Know this breakdown would allow retailers to target the audience for each product category differently.
Who influences your audience? Who influences your potential new audiences? Identifying influencers within an audience can help you determine your strategy for engaging that audience. Is there an opportunity for paying the influencer to promote your brand? Are there specific celebrities that would resonate with your audience in an ad campaign? Having the answers to these questions will help you boost the performance of your campaigns by knowing who to partner with and how to connect with your audience.
For more on audience analysis and social media analytics, download our free guide: The Fundamentals of Social Media Analytics.