Tools for Getting to Know Your Audience (Part 2 - Social)
This is part two in the “Tools for Getting to Know Your Audience” series, where we look at how to access and interpret data on your customers (and potential customers). In part one we dove into keywords and search trends, and today we turn towards the information gold mine that is social media.
Questions to ask:
What is the approximate overall market size for my area? What is the demographic makeup of my target market? What other things do they like? Who are the predominant groups, brands, and individuals in the space?
How to use it:
Facebook’s graph search is a powerful tool that lives right within your Facebook search bar. A quick search for “ukulele” on Facebook validates that its a good niche interest, with 283,122 likes and growing.
Facebook also shows related pages and groups as part of its graph search. Joining and participating in these groups is a great way to continue getting to know your audience. For brands, Ukulele Underground has one of the most popular ukulele pages, with 21,759 likes. With 12,833 members, the public Ukulele Tabs group is one of the largest communities of ukulele players, and so is a must-join.
Looking at the content of posts reveals a lot about what people are interested in and what types of content do well. In addition to this guy playing death metal (below), I saw pictures of ukuleles decorated in weird and wonderful ways, individuals posting videos of their journey to learn the tiny instrument, kids playing the ukulele (aww), people playing cats like ukuleles (wha?), and tough punk bands showing their soft side with uke songs.
You can go deeper with Facebook Graph Search to see related interests of people in your target market. For instance, by searching “Pages liked by people who like Ukulele”, I can see that they’re also fans of Humans of New York, Photography, and NPR.
Get even more specific by searching for movies or music liked by people who like the ukulele. These two searches generate some great ideas for potential tabs/songs to teach!
If you’re thinking of holding live events as part of your marketing strategy, Facebook can help you with its location filter. For example, you could search for:
- “Posts about “Ukulele” from San Francisco, California”
- “People who like “Ukulele” and live in San Francisco, California”
You can also see which of your friends are already interested in your topic. They would be great people to give you feedback on your project and help you spread the word. Search for things like:
- “Posts about “Ukulele” by my friends”
- “Pages about “Ukulele” that are liked by my friends.”
Finally, if you want to get even more fancy you can dive into Facebook ads. Select “Clicks to Website” and enter any URL (we’re not going to actually create an ad). Under the Audience section, play around with different demographic filters to see how that affects the potential reach of your audience.
You’ll notice that if you just search for “ukulele” as an interest, the potential reach is much greater than the number of people who have ukulele as an interest in their profiles. This is because it also includes people who like related pages.
After conducting a few different searches, I noticed some interesting facts about the American ukulele target market on Facebook:
- Potential reach for various age ranges:
- 13-20 years old: 72,000
- 20-30 years old: 100,000
- 30-40 years old: 50,000
- 40-50 years old: 46,000
- 50-60 years old: 44,000
- 60+: 34,000
Interest in Ukulele by gender:
- Female: 150,000
- Male: 160,000
20-30 year olds are the biggest age group interested in the uke, and there seems to be about equal interest between men and women.
- Pages and groups related to your area are great places to start listening to and engaging with your target market.
- Most posts about ukuleles are fun and lighthearted, and many contain videos. An extremely popular post features a musician playing death metal on a Ukulele.
- Related interests/music/movies include NPR, photography, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, and Radiohead.
- Location filters are a big help if you’re looking to host live events or meetups.
- Your friends who have similar interests to you are good first people to tell about your project.
- Key demographics for ukulele-lovers is 20-30 years old, both male and female.
2. Twitter (+ Followerwonk)
Questions to ask:
Who are the most influential people/brands in my field? What are they talking about? What vocabulary do they use to describe themselves and what they’re interested in? Who are your competitors?
How to use it:
Twitter contains a wealth of information, but because its not as pervasive as Facebook, it can better for some niches rather than others.
Following hashtags is probably the easiest way to see what people are talking about right now. By searching for #ukulele in Twitter’s search, I can see all the latest posts about the instrument, from people learning how to play, to people attending ukulele festivals, to people sharing cool music. I found out that the Grammy Museum was hosting a ukulele event the night I wrote this!
I can also do a search for Twitter bios containing ukulele. A quick glance at these bios gives me a ton of great insight into the ukulele audience. I see words like…
And jobs like…
- editor in chief at Cosmopolitan Greece
- marathon runner
- youtube musician
- actor, director
- serial entrepreneur
- brand strategy
Because Twitter can be such a barrage of information, there are several tools out there that try to help you make sense of it. One of my favorites is Followerwonk, which lets you easily analyze your own followers or those of your competitors. Just click on the Analyze Followers tab, type in a handle, and select “analyze their followers.” Followerwork gives you a beautiful report with a map displaying where the followers are located, their most active hours, and much more.
One of the coolest features of this report is the word cloud of the most common terms in their followers’ bios. This can be extremely useful in figuring out marketing copy down the line. Here’s a word cloud from analyzing a competitor’s followers.
It can also be very helpful to create a private Twitter list of key influencers to follow so that your content is more curated. Followerwonk can help find those influencers by using the Search Twitter Bios tab. Plug in a competitor, similar brand, or keyword and you’ll get a list of Twitter users. Sort by social authority (which is based off their number of retweets), and simply add some of the top folks to your influencers list!
- Follow hashtags to stay on top of current posts, trends, and events.
- Look at Twitter bios to understand your customers vocabulary, jobs, interests, etc. For example, many Ukulele lovers on Twitter work in creative industries.
- A follower analysis (your own or your competitor’s) on Followerwonk can reveal location, active hours, common vocabulary, and more.
- Creating private Twitter lists can be extremely useful for listening to and engaging with influencers.
Questions to ask:
What is the most shared content for your industry? What content is working really well for my competitors? What networks have the most traction? What format is most successful - infographics, how-to posts, videos, etc.? Who are the influencers in my industry?
How to use it:
Buzzsumo is incredibly straightforward platform that manages to deliver a ton of insight about social content and influencers.
Type a term or website into the search box, and take a look at the type of content. Let’s start with “ukulele.”
Of the 10 most shared things about ukuleles, 8 were videos. This isn’t surprising, as music lends itself well to video content. As you can see, Facebook gets the most shares by far, with Google+ a close second. You can also filter out certain types of content. Its interesting to note that if we remove videos, Google+ gets nearly no shares at all.
Again, we see a lot of lighthearted content (such as “Ukuleles make everything awesome”), and people playing unexpected songs (like Slayer).
You can also use Buzzsumo to analyze competitors by plugging in their domain or the search parameter “author:name”. This is a great way to see at a glance what type of content your competitor is putting out there and which posts are getting the most shares.
Now lets head over to the “Influencers” tab to see who the big players in this space are. The results are based off of Twitter, and including rankings for Page Authority (taken from MOZ), Followers, Retweet Ratio, etc.
Buzzsumo conveniently tags your results as companies, bloggers, influencers journalists, or regular people. You can filter by any of these tags as well.
From this dashboard you can follow or add influencers to a list, so that you can stat engaging with them more regularly.
To get an idea of the common themes and sources of links shared by these influencers, click on “View Links Shared”. Buzzsumo gives you a nice list of common words, and a pie chart displaying the percentage of shares from different domains.
- Video is the most popular medium for content about ukuleles
- The top videos are people playing unique, novel songs.
- Around 20% of the top content were tutorials.
- Facebook gets by far the most shares for ukulele content. Google+ is also quite popular, but only for video. If you’re going to be sharing a lot of video tutorials, you might want to consider Google+ as one of your main channels.
- Don’t waste your time on Pinterest or LinkedIn for this particular niche.
- Use a search of your competitor to see their most shared social content.
A couple concluding points on the tools and tactics mentioned here.
- The purpose of these exercises is to get you out of your own head and into your audience’s, and to challenge your assumptions about who your customers are. However, these are only strategies for conducting secondary research. You should also take some time to actually chat, first hand, with your potential customers.
- There is a lot of information to be found using each of these tools, and its easy to get lost in a black hole of online research. I encourage you to give yourself a time limit of a couple hours for doing this work. Take a look at a few of the tools mentioned here, write down your key takeaways, and move on to actually building your thing.
- Its important to actually implement what you’ve learned with this research. Use it to keep on track with creating a product that there’s demonstrated interest in, use the vocabulary in your marketing copy, engage with the influencers you discovered, and focus your content on the channels and formats that you’ve seen work best.