In the early days of social media marketing, the number one goal for businesses was to amass huge followings, and for good reason. It was a time when there was no limit to organic post reach, and the companies with the largest social audiences benefited the most with totally free advertising.
Unfortunately for those early adopters, the networks have matured, the business models have grown and nowadays brands are lucky if even a fraction of their social following see their posts. That’s why marketers need to completely rethink the way they approach social as an organic channel.
Where before social marketing was all about building a giant audience, today social marketing is about providing quality, relevant content to your audience so that you can engage with them as individuals and attract them as a customer. But in order to really provide your social audience with engaging content, you need to figure out who they are. This can be done with some of the reports available online.
This post will cover how to use data to find your perfect social audience, and how to look at reports on past performance to find out which content resonates with your audience.
1. Demographics Reports
Who are the people that are interacting with you on social media? There’s a chance that you or your community managers can name some of the top influencers within your social following, but who is your average reader? One way to get a tremendous increase in social engagement is to answer this question, and create content that resonates with those individuals. Here are some of the reports available to you that can be used to figure out just who your average social engager is.
Facebook Page Insights
Let’s start with Facebook. Facebook has a plethora of information on your fans and followers. One way to access that information is through the Facebook Insights tab found on your brand’s homepage.
If this is your first time using this tool, take a look around at some of the great data at hand. Otherwise, navigate over to the People tab to start pulling data on your fans and followers.
The above screenshot is looking more specifically at the People Engaged section. It’s better to look at People Engaged since this shows the demographics of the people who are more inclined to actually engage with your social posts.
The first data you’ll see breaks down the various ages and genders of the people who are engaging with your Facebook posts. For example, the graph below shows that of all the people interacting with Sprout Social, 21% are women ages 25-34.
Various age groups and genders are likely to interact with content differently. That’s why it’s a key advantage to figure out your main audience and create posts catered to their interests.
Twitter’s Analytics Tool
Similar to Facebook, Twitter offers audience insights within its analytics dashboard. After you access your analytics page, navigate to the tab addressing your Followers.
Assuming you have enough followers, this tab has information on their gender, income, education and more, which will help you create content on Twitter that this audience is more likely to interact with. However, the tab doesn’t include age data. One option is to use Sprout’s Twitter Analytics.
Followerwonk is a Twitter tool created by the software company Moz. If you have access to the tool, choose the Analyze tab from your dashboard.
From here you can enter any Twitter handle and scan their followers. The data provided is similar to Twitter’s, but the one we’re most interested in for creating demographic-driven content is the gender section.
Most of the networks don’t provide as robust data as Facebook and Twitter, but never fear: Google always has your back. Access your account and navigate to Audience > Demographics > Overview.
After that, you need to +Add Segment, that looks at the Traffic Sources you’re interested in finding demographics for, like Pinterest.
2. Location and Language Reports
Location-based geo–targeting is a very powerful tool for social media marketers. It’s possible for you to pull reports to find some of your most engaged cities, states or countries, and then write and distribute topical content to those locations for better response. For instance, creating a post for a specific city could call out the hometown sports team.
Facebook Page Insights
Back on the Facebook Page Insights report, just a little below the age and gender information, you’ll find data on where the people engaged with your page are located.
So the company in the example above could see some increased engagement if they targeted a post to their Chicago audience that called out The Cubs (or the White Sox if that’s what you’re into…).
Twitter’s Analytics Tool
You’ll find location information when you access your Twitter Analytics the same way as in the previous report, but this time you’ll need to navigate over to the second tab.
In the right column you’ll find information provided by Twitter on both the country and region your followers are in.
Followerwonk preserves your reports for 60 days, so you should be able to find the same presentation you used when looking at the Demographics report. Followerwonk actually puts your followers’ location data in an interactive map.
Similar to the Demographics Reports, if you can’t find location data for the other networks look to Google Analytics. Access your account and navigate through Audience > Geo > Location.
After you create the custom segment looking at the social source, Google provides data on users by country, city, continent and subcontinent.
3. Sent Message Reports
Now that we know who our audience is, it’s a good idea to think about the content that they like. One way to do that is to look at your past social media performance to see which of your posts received good engagement, then use that information to dictate your strategy moving forward. A few of the platforms that we’ve mentioned so far have the ability to analyze old posts for performance, but I want to focus on two that do a great job.
Just like with the other reports, you’ll need to navigate to the Analyze tab of your dashboard. The difference this time is that instead of choosing to “analyze their followers’ you want to choose ‘analyze their tweets’.
Followerwonk uses Retweets as the main metric for deciding what makes the most important Tweet. In the example above I chose to look at Social Media Examiner. Followerwonk shows that this is their most important Tweet over the time period.
A day In the life of a #SocialMedia Manager? pic.twitter.com/PqhFDl3pgt
— SocialMedia Examiner (@SMExaminer) June 1, 2015
Social Media Examiner can look at this and decide that if they create more fun content that resonates with social media managers, they’ll see more engagement.
Sprout Social is a social media management platform that also gives you analytics on your past social media performance.
Sprout has a number of key performance indicators (KPIs) that you can look at to find out which of your pieces of content perform well. You can then study those posts so that they can inform your content strategy moving forward.
4. Day and Hour Reports
Once you’ve figured out who to target and what to post, the next question on your mind should be “when to post.” And you wouldn’t be the only one, either. This Google Trends graph shows just how fascinated people are with finding the perfect time for posting.
However, the best time to post for one brand may not be the best time for another. That’s why you should look at these reports to find your unique perfect post time.
Facebook Page Insights
Access your Facebook Page Insights again, and go to the Posts tab. This is where you’ll find additional information on your fans, such as when they’re online.
Although this doesn’t say when you get the most engagement, it does have information on the days of the week and hours of the day when your fans are most likely to be online. Posting content at these peak days and hours should lead to an increase in your engagement.
Unfortunately, Facebook is one of the only networks out there that provides data on when your users are accessing the site. However, you can always pull data manually to look at which days are performing best. Or try talking to your community manager; most of them have a good idea of which days and times get great response. If all else fails, try a tool like Sprout Social that automatically post your social messages at the time that will yield the most audience engagement.
Every Audience is Unique
No two brands have an identical social media following, so it really doesn’t make much sense to use a one-size-fits-all content strategy. Taking the time to analyze your unique social media audience allows you to develop a content strategy that caters to them, which will set you leagues above the competition.
About the Author: Michael Patterson is a Digital Marketing Specialist at Sprout Social, a social media platform that helps brands manage their social media efforts. You can find him on Twitter @MPatterson22.