As you start to grow your audience as a creator, one of the trickiest things to really come to terms with is knowing what your audience actually wants. Sure, you can compare the analytics of your different pieces of content to see which of them is doing better; but that will just give you a brief overview. So what if you want more of a deep dive? Well, it might just be time to do a little research.
Why should I do audience research?
“Market research” is a fairly common practice that a lot of business-to-consumer companies undergo, in order to learn how best to sell themselves/their projects/their products. And what is a Creator, if not someone who does their own marketing?
Doing research into the kind of people that comprise your audience, the kinds of things they like and the other content they watch can be incredibly valuable information for a creator that wants to properly connect with their audience - especially if one of their main goals is expanding that audience.
Sounds good. Where do I start?
There are many different ways a Creator can start doing a bit of audience research - but the best place to start is to try and ask any of the following questions:
- Who are my audience?
- What do they do?
- Where else are they consuming content?
- When are they most active?
- Why do they follow me?
Figuring out your audience demographic is something you should be doing regularly as is, especially if working with Brands. To that end, getting to know who your audience is can be one of the most straightforward parts of your research.
Nearly every social platform has built-in analytics tools; and even the ones that don't can be figured out using a third-party service. Demographics such as age, gender and location are usually displayed in nice visual formats that are easy to figure out, and will give you at least a top line view of who your most engaged demographic is.
Figure out what your audience are generally doing with their day-to-day lives can help you create relatable and engaging content for them. Are they students? Do they have a full-time job? Are they aspiring Creators themselves?
There are a couple of ways to figure this information out. Obviously your demographics will allow you to make some generalisations about your core audience’s age; but paying close attention to your interactions can also reveal valuable information. For example, someone who comments on your video with something like “I’m trying not to laugh at my desk” is probably working full-time; and if you find that you have a lot of similar comments, you can start to build something of a profile about your audience’s general life situation.
Any other content that your audience is consuming is, to some extent, the competition; but it can also be a valuable source of information. So it helps to do a little bit of sleuthing to see what other things your fans are being recommended!
Relying on the algorithms of a platform is a cheeky but effective way to see what other Creators and outlets are being recommended to your audience. if you want a less biased insight, then you might want to set up a dummy social account, follow yourself and maybe some of your followers. Then have a peruse of features like Instagram's "Explore" tab, Twitter's "Who to follow", etc. You should be seeing just a handful of the kinds of content that your audience is also seeing on their feeds!
Knowing when most of your audience is online is incredibly valuable; especially when posting content to platforms that still have somewhat chronological feeds. Posting at the right time of day is crucial in maximising your content's engagement; which can in turn affect how many people actually see it in future (because algorithms are an infuriating thing).
Learning this information might require a little bit of "AB Testing", which means to test two versions of something similar to see which performs better. Try posting similar pieces of content - but on different days, at different times, etc. You will hopefully see for yourself which of these performs the most; and based on when it was posted, you will hopefully learn the best time to schedule your content for in the future!
One of the most overlooked tools of learning more about your audience is, of course, just asking them! As a Creator who presumably wants to have a relationship with your viewers, actually communicating with them about their motivations can be one of the most eye-opening experiences for a Creator.
Some Creators might opt to just post an open question on Twitter or Instagram, that their followers can respond to; others might go a little bit more elaborate, and create a survey for the audience to fill in (NOTE: a survey can also be a great way to garner all the other information you’re looking for in your research, so don’t be afraid to share one with your audience!)
The information above is a lot to take in - and it might feel like a bit of a drag to have to do! But audience research is only really necessary if you want to have some deeper knowledge into how best to create content that suits your following; not to mention, you don't have to do all of this in one go!
If you have found that doing your own thing is working better for you regardless of your audience, then that's great too - just remember to keep building a relationship with them as you go.