7 Ways to Learn from Your Social Media Audience

By Guest Comment


Most modern business owners see social media as a marketing tool, which it is, but they tend to skew their opinions toward outward expression; they see social media merely as a tool for getting their own messages to be seen by the public. However, one of social media’s strongest marketing functions is about inbound information gathering.

By analyzing the makeup, actions, and behaviors of your audience, you can learn new dimensions about your business, target your audience more effectively, and ultimately generate more, better consumer relationships through your social platforms. Learn from your social audience by using these seven important strategies:

1. Identify Your Key Demographics

You may think you have a firm grasp on your target demographics, but how accurate are those preconceived notions? Once you start building your social media audience, you’ll naturally start to attract individuals who have an affinity for your brand or your products.

You may find that large chunks of your audience do not fit your conception of the “average” user. If you’re in the early stages of business development, this can give you the ability to shift your business model and your marketing strategy accordingly. If you’re in the later stages, this could represent the opportunity to expand into a new sector of the market. Either way, check out your audience demographics regularly to stay informed.

2. Discover Which Content Works Best

Hopefully, you’re already using social media to publish and syndicate your brand’s best content. If you aren’t, now’s the time to get started. Doing so allows you to use your social audience to effectively analyze which of your posts work better and why.

For example, you may find that posts you’ve written about energy conservation outperform posts you’ve written about new energy technologies in terms of likes, shares, and comments. Use this information to audit your content marketing strategy and introduce new topics to your editorial process that have a higher chance of attracting attention. You can also review user comments to see which of your posts make the biggest impact.

3. Gauge Reactions to Major Announcements

If you’re getting ready to launch a new product, or you’re toying with the notion of releasing a new loyalty program or customer service process, make the announcement early on your social media platforms. This will reward your loyal fans with a sneak peek of upcoming changes, but more importantly, it will give you a chance to gauge your audience’s reaction before going live with it.

For example, if you see rampant negative backlash against one key feature of your new product, you’ll have the opportunity to correct it before releasing the product to the general public. It’s like having a focus group that works for free.

4. Pinpoint Key Trends and Conversations

It’s also important to use your social media presence as a means of social listening. Through social listening, you’ll get a read on key trends and conversations that are developing outside your own brand. For example, you can segment your audiences into lists on Twitter, and read through each segment’s collective updates to see what each group is talking about. If you identify any key trends or hashtags that are being used excessively, you’ll have the chance to capitalize on them and win some major points with your key supporters.

5. Listen to Mentions of Your Brand

Social listening also extends to mentions of your own brand. You may find that your brand is mentioned or spoken about even by people who do not follow you directly. In these cases, you can use the search function listed on each social platform, or aggregate your results using dedicated social listening software. Either way, you’ll be able to gather some key information about how people feel about your brand—especially if they’re not loyal enough to follow you in the first place.

6. Experiment With Values

Social advertising and special offers give you a way to weigh the values of your average users. For example, you can roll out an A/B test comparing a 10 percent off discount code with a free offer for orders over a certain amount.

By comparing the number of people who clicked each ad, you can generally determine which offer is viewed as more valuable by your audience. With this information, you’ll be able to make assumptions about what is most important to your audience members, and you’ll be able to create even better, more appealing offers for them.

7. Submit Surveys

Finally, you can use social media to gather practically any information you want on your key demographics through the use of surveys. Rather than relying on information you hunt for and gather yourself, surveys give you the chance to ask your audience questions directly and gather responses.

For example, if you’re curious about what your users think of your new site design, you can publish a survey and ask your users for their feedback directly. Some social platforms allow you to create these surveys within the platform itself; if not, you can always use a third-party tool like Survey Monkey.

The larger your audience grows, the more insights you’ll be able to discover, and the better you’ll be able to position your brand. As you become more adept at listening to your core followers and reading their trends and patterns, you’ll iteratively build a more successful social strategy, and possibly, a more successful business model.

Larry Alton is an independent business consultant specializing in social media trends, business, and entrepreneurship. Follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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