Originally Published on Printful.com By Maria Raybould
If I’m an advocate for anything, it’s knowing your social media audience inside out. Where do your customers hang out online? What kind of articles do they read? Where do they shop? Finding out who your followers are and what they’re up to is an essential part of creating a perfect content strategy and attracting your ideal customer.
In this post, I am going to show you how to best analyze your audience and how to incorporate this data into your content strategy.
Writing for someone, not just anyone
In my experience, a social media audience audit is one of the most exciting tasks ever. It’s the moment you realize you should be creating for someone, not just anyone.
Sometimes, the kind of audience you turn out to have as a result of your audit isn’t exactly what you’ve been imagining it to be. For example, your page was initially targeted at dog owners, but it turns out your main followers are veterinary clinics. The earlier you find this out, the better because your content needs to be relevant for your existing (and not what-you-thought-it-would-be!) audience.
So where do you start your analysis?
Make Use of Native Analytics
There’s no need to move mountains to dive into your social media audience’s demographics – all major social networks have their own built-in analytics services where you can look up the information about your followers.
Audience Insights in Facebook Ads Manager is a great place to start.
This report will give you an overview of your audience’s age and gender, lifestyle, relationship status, education, job title, and location. To learn more about your followers’ interests, take a look at the ‘Page Likes’ tab in the same report. You’ll see the top categories and pages that your audience might like:
Your audience’s activity peaks are no less important than their demographics. Otherwise, how will you know when to post your content? You can access information about when your followers are most active on Facebook by going to Page Insights and checking the Posts section.
The easiest way to track your follower growth and learn about your followers’ interests and demographics, such as language, gender, and location, is through Twitter’s Audience Insights. If you feel this data isn’t enough, consider tools like Followerwonk and Audiense. What I really like about the latter is that it allows you to create highly personalized audience segments.
Instagram Insights (Instagram’s native analytics) provide you with information about your followers’ gender, age, their location, as well as times and days when they are online.
To access it, you need to have a business profile on Instagram. Unfortunately, it doesn’t tell you anything about your followers’ interests. But you can figure out this by looking at your posts that got the highest engagement (use filters) or with the help of tools like SocialBakers. Many analytics services have been affected by Instagram’s recent API shutdown, but tools like SocialBakers are still up and running and provide valuable insights into your Instagram audience.
LinkedIn Company Page analytics provide insightful demographic data to help you define and segment your LinkedIn followers and visitors:
This data is gathered directly from the LinkedIn network, which makes it accurate and reliable. There are plenty of ways you can use this data to your advantage; for example, it allows you to see whether you’re actually getting traffic from the industry you are targeting, and, if not, you can always change the direction of your efforts. If you’re looking to turn this data into shareable visuals, tools like Sprout Social and Hootsuite will help you out.
Native reporting is also available on Pinterest. It tells you about the people who follow your boards or engage with your pins in some way, their gender, where they live, and other demographic information. You can also check other topics and businesses your audience is into.
If you start to feel that Pinterest Analytics don’t provide you with enough data to measure your efforts, consider other paid options like Viralwoot or Tailwind. You’ll be able to get the latest numbers for total followers, identify your most engaged followers, and track engagement metrics.
Unless your target market is very, very specific and narrow, you’ll notice that your audience is different on each social network. This is great news because you are reaching a broad audience, but it also means some extra work because your content strategy needs to be unique for each audience you’re targeting. To help you with this, let’s first try to imagine what your ideal customer looks like on each social network.
Picture Your Ideal Customer
Once you’ve done the initial analysis of your audience’s demographics and interests, a little bit of fantasizing won’t do any harm:
- What does your ideal customer look like?
- Where do they hang out on weekends?
- What kinds of activities are they up to?
The data you’ve got, coupled with your imagination, will take your targeting to the next level.
Picture your ideal customer persona and remember: the more ‘real’ it is, the easier it will be for you to tailor your strategy. This article will give you some great tips on defining your business avatar – a person who embodies your perfect customer.
Having a fictional persona of your ideal customer will be especially useful if the analysis reveals (and it probably will) that your audience is different on each social network.
For example, you sell camping equipment online, and your audience analysis reveals that:
- The majority of your Facebook fans are teen wildlife volunteers
- On Twitter, you seem to be more popular among climbers
- Your Instagram followers are mostly outdoor lovers of all ages
In this case, defining a business avatar for each individual social network will help you adapt your content for each audience. But please don’t get carried away with those multiple identities!
Analyze your competitors’ content strategy
Your target audience is something you are destined to share with your competitors, whether you like it or not. But it’s how you look at it: having competitors who target the same people is great because you can always check what worked for them and what didn’t, and use this knowledge for your own strategy.
Identify Top Performing Content
I recommend starting with Facebook’s Pages to Watch feature. You can add competitors’ pages you’d like to keep an eye on to your watchlist and track their top performing posts:
With tools like Rival IQ, Klear or SEMrush you can track your competitors’ social pages to see how their posts perform, how much engagement they receive, which hashtags they use, etc. I use SEMrush’s ‘Top Content’ report to find out which posts worked best in a particular social network.
In this tool, you can add up to 20 competitors to track their Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Google+ accounts. It’s up to you whether you want to analyze all content across all the profiles you’ve entered, or narrow your focus to each competitor to analyze their strategy in more detail:
The tool also has a report which shows you what content formats your competitors used and which of them got the most engagement:
Watch Your Competition’s Hashtags
Since they first appeared on Twitter in 2007, hashtags have penetrated almost every major social media network. They’re used to maximize brand searchability and tap into trends and popular conversations that are relevant to your product or brand.
What hashtags do your competitors use to increase their exposure?
I always monitor my competitors’ hashtags to get an idea of what they are up to in the social media space, e.g. the hype they’re creating around themselves to promote their product, the competitions and special offers they’re running, etc. Hashtag analysis allows you to see exactly which ones work best for your competitors, so that you can adopt the ones that will work for your brand and your audience.
I use SEMrush’s Social Media Tracker to do this, but there are many other competitive social analytics tools out there that you can use, like Rival IQ.
Let’s say I own an online store that sells beauty products.
My first step would be to search through my competitors’ hashtags to see if they’ve used any trending topics to hype their brand. Here’s what I found:
The NHS’s 70th anniversary, a moorland fire in Lancashire and a new episode of Love Island are the events I could have also used to promote my product in social media (ok, I probably not the moorland fire). I checked these hashtags on Ritetag to see if they’re worth using and found that #loveisland had a 1.1 million hashtag exposure per hour! Definitely worth targeting.
After that, I will search through my competitors’ special offers that have had the highest engagement. Clicking on the hashtag I’m interested in will take me to a list of posts that contain this hashtag. I will then study these posts in more detail to get an idea about the context in which this hashtag was used to be able to create something similar:
Finally, to find out what competitions my competitors are running, I will choose a competition-related word (for example, win) to view all the posts that contain this word:
Speaking of competitions, Ritetag has pulled together a handy list with popular hashtags for competitions on Twitter and Instagram.
I often search through my competitors’ hashtags to see if there are any good ones I could use for my posts. Rival IQ has a feature that tells you which of the most broadly used and well-performing hashtags you didn’t use:
We looked at the steps you can take to analyze your competitors’ hashtag strategies and the tools you can use to find their best-performing hashtags. If you’re not already tracking your competitors’ hashtags, you really should be!
Optimize Your Content Strategy
Congratulations! You are now equipped with enough data to start optimizing your social media strategy. Here’s the data we’ve gathered throughout this post and what you can do with it:
Step #1: Tailor your content to your ideal customer personas
Remember those ideal customer personas that we defined in Chapter Two? For each of these personas, you must have a unique content strategy. Remember, these are different people with completely different interests, so be sure to tailor your content for each social network so that THEY like it.
Step #2: Adapt the top performing content to your own strategy
Once you know which content performs best on each social network, take it to the next level! Here’s how:
- Write your own, better version of it.
- Search through the comments to identify questions and points of confusion and address them in your post.
- Pay attention to the best-performing format. If you notice your competitors are posting videos and they get the most engagement, follow their example.
Step #3: Add value to your sales strategy
Now you know which competitions and deals got the most response. Look at the words and the imagery used in them. Based on this information, you might want to change something in your sales strategy, e.g. promote a product that will make your followers want to compete for, find a charity to partner with, provide coupon codes, or sign a deal with a supplier to secure further discounts.
Step #4: Increase your outreach
Remember that your competitors’ posts are a great source of ideas for hashtags, so make sure you don’t skip this part.
See what hype surrounds your competitors, whether it’s the latest episode of a popular TV show or a recent heatwave in your country, and be sure to follow their example. Do it sooner rather than later, though, before the hype disappears! Also, don’t forget to analyze which hashtags they use in their special offers and competitions with the highest engagement and try something similar.
Step #5: Track your content’s performance
How will you know your efforts are paying off if you don’t measure your content’s performance? There are so many tools that can help you with you this. You can use native analytics of major social networks, but those running multiple accounts may find it rather inconvenient to check several different statistics tools to see how their content is performing. Tools like Hootsuite or Hubspot will have the analytics of all social networks combined in one application.
It’s not always easy to get your head around what all these tools have to offer, so to help you with this, SEMrush has created the Ultimate Guide for Social Media Professionals. It will help you wisely plan your strategy, conduct competitor research, schedule your content, and analyze your performance.
Over to you
If you want to step up your social media game, you have to analyze the audience of each individual medium, and later incorporate these findings into your content strategy.
But remember that audience analysis isn’t something that should be done once and forgotten. Nothing is ever stagnant on social media, and neither is your audience. So actively monitor what your audience is up to in the social media space on an ongoing basis.
Keep an eye on the demographics and interests of your followers, their activity peaks, and the type of content they enjoy or react to the most. Doing this will help you understand and predict what they’re looking for, and adjust your social media strategy accordingly.