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Audience analysis: What is it and how to do it?

Julia Miashkova
by Julia Miashkova on June 15, 2020

Audience analysis is the new consumer research. What used to take face-to-face interviews, consumer surveys, opinion polls, and focus groups is now a matter of choosing the right social listening tool that will take care of both research and analytics.

At this point, most (if not all) of your current and potential customers are on social media. And while social media monitoring is a key part of digital marketing, social listening is how you go beyond social media posts and directly to the people behind them. In other words, social listening is a shortcut to reliable consumer insights minus the hassle.

If you want more proof, I invite you to read up on the difference between social media monitoring and social listening. If you're convinced as is, I invite you on an audience analysis journey. Together, we'll explore the ways to use social listening for consumer research. 

In case you feel like you might need a crash course or a quick recap of the many use cases of social listening, check out our guide on how to use a social listening tool.

What is audience analysis?

In simple terms, audience analysis is a full scan of your target markets in terms of:

  • demographics
  • locations
  • languages
  • attitudes
  • interests
  • beliefs

And so on. Audience analysis can be as broad or as narrow as you prefer, stretching from the geography of your customer base to factors like political alliances and stances in public debates.

The one place where all of this information is publicly available is social media. It's essentially the world's largest database of consumer insights, with every age group represented in sufficient quantities. Audience analysis relies on social data obtained via 24/7 monitoring of social networks and the rest of the web, which means first-hand customer data. 

The best part is how resource-undemanding yet effective audience analysis with social listening is. The only tool that you'll need is a social listening tool of your choice, and that's it in terms of the budget. Once you've settled on a toolkit, audience analysis is underway as social media monitoring and listening is everything you'll need to get reliable results.

Why do audience analysis?

Audience analysis is the cornerstone of any business strategy. For new businesses, it's a brilliant way to gain a basic understanding of target audiences: geographic distribution, demographics, preferences, interests — you name it.

When it comes to ad planning and daily marketing activities of well-established brands, audience analysis is used to answer very practical questions such as:

  • What topics are popular with different target groups?
  • What platforms bring the most audience engagement?
  • Which of the competitors' activities work best across audiences?
  • Which targeting criteria will secure maximum audience coverage?

Naturally, the list is not exhaustive and you discover more and more use cases of audience analysis as you go. Depending on the results of your initial audience analysis, you can decide how much further you need to go with researching any particular audience group.

How to do audience analysis? 

Unlike consumer research, traditionally done via face-to-face interviews, opinion polls, and focus groups, audience analysis relies on social media data, publicly available and perfectly searchable.

The problem is, social media is huge, and nobody has sufficient time or capacity to be scanning social networks all day, every day. This is where social listening tools step in — your relentless helpers monitoring all of the Internet to find conversations around the things important to your business.

For this audience analysis how-to, I'll be using Awario, but you're welcome to experiment and find a perfect match for your digital marketing needs.

Step 1. Set up mentions monitoring

Social listening starts with setting up mentions monitoring. Here, you need to decide on the keywords your social listening tool will be tracking. Your first choice is your brand name, then go product or campaign names.

For the purposes beyond audience analysis (for example, if you want to generate leads on social media), it's also good to throw in your competitor brands and basic product descriptions.

To access a wider audience through more general conversations around your product category or industry, you can set up a separate mentions monitoring alert for niche-specific keywords like the name of your industry. This way, you'll expand audience analysis to the people not yet aware of your brand but already researching your product category.

Depending on how many brands, sources, locations, and languages you want to track (this can be adjusted in your alert settings), it takes anywhere from a couple of seconds to several hours to pick up every single mention of your keywords found online. Give your social listening tool some time to collect enough data and go right for the analytics.

Step 2. Go to the Dashboard for analytics

The dashboard is where all major social listening insights live. As a rule, the dashboard is interactive and flexible, which allows you to focus on platform- or time-specific data. All of the analytics are in one way or another valuable for putting together a portrait of your customer base, as the data comes from real-user conversations around your business and industry.

If you indicated your competitor brands when setting up brand monitoring, your social listening tool will track mentions of those as well, which can be of great use in learning more about your shared audiences. In addition to that, when you have several brands in your social listening project, you're able to benchmark their analytics against each other.

Step 3. Take a closer look at your audience

The dashboard is populated with solid insights into brand reputation and the amount of brand-related buzz generated on social. Depending on the alerts you choose to examine, dashboard analytics will be different. You can view each alert separately to identify gaps or add multiple alerts to the same dashboard for brand-to-brand comparison.

While analytics like the volume of mentions and the sentiment behind them help you understand the conversations around your business and the type of feedback you receive, the rest of the insights are more audience-oriented.

Gender 

Gender is Awario's newest audience demographic analytics that gives you an understanding of your customer demographics. With this knowledge, you can level up targeting, reach new audiences, and even design better products.

Countries 

This section is essentially the geography of your audience. By analyzing every mention of your company found online, social listening tools map them across the world to give you a picture of where the people talking about your brand are located. When in addition to your brand you also track competitor brands, you're able to see customer distribution in perspective.

If you're a global brand serving locations all over the world, make sure you include every variation of your brand name in different languages to get comprehensive monitoring results and a well-populated map.

Languages 

If you set up mentions monitoring in multiple languages, social listening tools give you a breakdown of the mentions' languages. Language insights, much like country insights, are valuable for understanding your audiences, improving targeting, and checking demand for your products or services across different market segments. 

Sources

Sources are the platforms your brand mentions were found on. The more platforms you set your social listening tool to track, the more thorough the breakdown will be. Sources are the social networks and web platforms favored the most by your audience. These insights are needed in order to develop a content strategy and gain an understanding of the coverage your brand receives.

Topic cloud 

The topic or word cloud is an overview of the words and phrases featured alongside your brand name most often. Topic cloud is brilliant for uncovering trending conversations, running themes, and questions your audiences bring up when talking about your company. Make sure you keep an eye on the topics important to your customers as these reveal user concerns and help you understand the attitudes towards your brand online.

Mentions and Influencers is a feed populated with the most important and popular mentions of your brand/competitors/products. It gives you a quick overview of niche influencers and opinion leaders who could be useful in promoting your products and expanding your customer base.

To focus on specific audience members and discover more influencers, we'll move from the dashboard into the mentions feed.

Step 4. Connect with your audience's influencers 

Social media influencers can be powerful allies in winning and retaining audiences. Whether you're after the personal connection that influencers strike or the brand authority they boost, make sure you use social listening to identify opinion leaders valued by your audiences.  

There are many ways to find social media influencers using a social listening tool, and the greatest thing about it is you get to identify very specific opinion leaders with different types of following and communication. Start by going to the mentions feed and sorting the posts by Reach — the total number of impressions they generated.

You're welcome to switch between different social media networks and time slots to identify influencers who'll work best with any particular audience group. You can also take it one step further and apply a reach limit to uncover micro- or macro-influencers only.

The same can be done in your competitors' mentions feeds. By identifying and connecting with the influencers your competition works with, you can win powerful brand ambassadors who you know resonate well with similar audiences. 

Most social listening tools let you interact with posts directly from the app. This means you can engage with influencers as you go, replying, sharing, liking their content, or contact them via DM's.

 

If you want to use your audience as a pool of potential brand ambassadors, make sure you check the account types breakdown available in Awario's social listening reports. This way, you'll know how much influencer potential there is in a given target audience.

 

Step 5. Research and check user feedback 

Now that we're working with raw user data, the time is perfect for fetching customer feedback on the products and services you or your competitors are offering. In any of your mentions feeds, run a search by a name of a product or a particular feature you want to analyze. Social listening tools let you check honest user feedback, including from untagged brand mentions.

As soon as you've spotted any concerns or issues your audience likes to talk about, conduct a study! You read me right: social listening tools empower you to run research of any scale, studying your audience's attitudes towards anything from climate change to vaccination. Fire up mentions monitoring using your research topic as a keyword and enjoy reliable findings with minimum involvement.

Wrapping up 

Audience analysis via social listening is the only sure-fire (and 100% respectful of any privacy policy) way into your customers' minds and hearts. Social listening tools reduce the job of researching your customer base to setting up continuous social media monitoring and keeping an eye on the analytics. Make sure you give audience analysis a go with a social listening tool of your choice and experience consumer research on a new level. 

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