A key step when developing a social media strategy is to thoroughly understand your targeted consumers and community members so that you can determine how to engage and interact with them, what content will be seen as valuable and relevant, and how they use social media and technology, to list a few reasons. When actually writing your social media strategy, consider creating rich profiles that include all, or at least some, of the following information:
- What their interests are
- How they use social media
- How they use technology
- How they use your product/service
- What role your product/service plays in their lives
- Other products/services that play a role in their lives
Following are 12 tools, resources and methods you can employ – free of charge – to assist in the creation of detailed profiles of your audience:
Alexa is an awesome resource. Conducting a simple search of your site can reveal a basic demographic breakdown including age, gender, the education level of site visitors, whether visitors have children, and whether they are browsing your site from home, school or work. Additionally, Alexa provides information on upstream and downstream site visits, which can reveal related interests and internet usage behaviour.
comScore accurately describes themselves as global leader in measuring the digital world and preferred source of digital business analytics. Even without a paid account, some searching on comScore can reveal awesome insights on social media and technology use, demographics and psychographics, and just about anything you might want to learn about social media, the internet, and digital technologies.
Leading social media and technology research firm, Forrester Research, hascreated a simple tool to determine your audience’s social media technographics. What are technographics? Simply put, technographics categorize social media users based on their level of involvement, interaction and engagement with social platforms, the internet and technology.
Google Ad Planner allows you to search for statistical and demographic information on any website. Information provided includes a breakdown of age and gender, interests that are based on the audience relationship between two sites, and a listing of other sites that the site’s audience has visited. Also interesting, is that Google Ad Planner lets you reverse engineer this information based on interests and geography.
That’s right – conducting a simple search on Google can reveal a huge number of articles, blog posts, white papers, research reports, and statistical analyses on just about any demographic, psychographic profile, consumer group, country, region, or any other group you might have an interest in. I know this is a no-brainer, but don’t undervalue intensive digging through search results.
This requires base knowledge of your audience, but setting up alerts for relevant trends, keywords and phrases that are topical for your target is a great way to stay on top developments that could affect your community. Setting up alerts can help you keep your target demographic profiles up-to-date, and can assist you when optimizing your social media strategy down the road.
Follow community members with publicly accessible profiles, timelines, and posts to get a sense of who they are, what they’re taking time to discuss or comment on, and what matters most to them in their lives. Consider following relevant Twitter hashtags or search results using HootSuite or TweetDeck to get ongoing updates.
Facebook Insights provides some basic demographic information on your fans: age distribution, gender split, and geographic location are the key pieces of information to be learned here.
To get a deeper understanding of your target audience, consider polling them on occasion to get some resolution about an area of interest.
Simple but effective; ask your social media communities to answer a few questions about themselves and you’ll be surprised by the response you might get. Alternatively, you can ask followers of your blog a few questions to inform your social media strategy, or send out a SurveyMonkey to your email distribution list for a more formal approach.
CONDUCT A COMPETITIVE REVIEW
If you have competitors who are active in the social space you’d be remiss to not conduct a thorough competitive review to learn from their mistakes, and build on ideas that seem to have gained some traction. Looking at what works for direct competitors can be incredibly revealing, and save you from repeating some of their missteps.
SPEAK TO YOUR CUSTOMERS IN PERSON
Crazy, I know. Speak to people in person, in the real world. If you run a business that has a physical location, or that requires in-person human interaction, take advantage of that and speak to your customers about their lives, how your product helps them, what they worry or stress about, or anything else that could be helpful with the development of your business and social media strategy.
What tools do you use to better understand your consumers and social media community?
Have you had any success employing any of the tools, resources or methods listed in this post?
Leave your response in the comments or on Twitter @RGBSocial, it’d be great to hear from you.
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