Online Audience Analytics
Checking out your online audience can be a great first step to understanding who is interested in your organisation. You can use information on your online audiences to inform your marketing strategy, and you can add it to other audience data to enrich your overall audience picture.
Best of all, it's free and relatively simple to start using, without taking up too much time.
With a Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram account, you’ll automatically have free access to audience insights that are already built-in to these platforms. It’s just a case of accessing them.
Your online followers and fans are not the exact same as the people who are walking across the threshold of your venue, buying tickets, or attending an event, but these insights should give you a good starting point for building a picture of your audiences.
Any twitter account can access insights – but you must visit your account via desktop (not mobile) to do it. Twitter analytics gives you the following information on your followers:
- Their interests
Click on your profile image in the top right to access Twitter Analytics
Click on the Audiences tab at the top of the screen
To access FaceBook insights you’ll need to have a ‘page’ set up – not just a personal profile. You'll get the biggest range of information if you access it via desktop.
To view your facebook insights, navigate to your company page, go to the white toolbar at the top of the page, select the insights tab, and on the left hand menu, choose ‘people’
This will give you an overview of the gender, age and location of your page’s followers.
Click on the Insights tab at the top of your company page
Click on People on the left-hand menu bar
At present, Instagram insights are very simple, but they are expanding regularly. To get insights, you must be a business page. (Here's how to switch to a business profile if you need to). Unlike the other social platforms - you can only see your insights on mobile.
Click on the Insights icon on the top right of your Instagram profile page
If you have a Google Analytics account, it can give you some really in-depth information about who is visiting your site. (If you haven't linked analytics to your site yet, it is free to do so. Here's how to set up Google Analytics.)
There is a wealth of data available in Google Analytics, but the Audience section, and in particular demograhics, interests, and geo are the best places to find out about your online audiences. Remember to set a relevant time period to analyse too.
The best places to find audience info in Google Analytics
Putting it all together
You can use all of this information about your digital audiences to add to your overall picture of who your audience is. Bear in mind the usual demographics of each platform, and how this might affect your online audience profiles. The graphic below shows what percentages of the worldwide online audience are using each platform.
Different platforms might give you different results, so jot all your info down and figure out the overall trends
Once you've gathered all of the data, stand back and see if there are any trends emerging. Look at age, gender, location, income, the times they are online, and their interests - what do they tell you about your online audience? You may find that one clear type of audience emerges, or it may be spread across a few different types of people.
Using general data like this may feel like you're making assumptions and snap judgments, but by combining the information you get from lots of different platforms, along with your own knowledge and any other research (sectoral reports, ticketing data, staff knowledge, surveys..) you can create a three dimensional understanding of who your audience is.
Building a Persona
To make your audience research usable, a great thing to do is build an audience persona. Take your audience segment, and imagine it as one person. Give them a name, an image, and some short bullet points about what they're like, and their wants and needs.
It’s a useful way of putting yourself in someone else’s shoes to see how they might respond to what you are offering and if there is anything to need to change or adapt to make sure the experience they have is the best possible.
Once you’ve chosen your target audiences it can be really beneficial to spend some time developing audience personas for them. For example, you may find a sizeable proportion of your online audience are located in and around Belfast, they are mostly female, between 25 and 45 years old, and google analytics has told you they are 'arts and theatre afficionados'. Your resulting persona may look like this:
- has one young child
- lives in West Belfast
- Active on facebook and instagram
- Interested in family theatre shows
It may seem trivial, but giving your persona a name and an image to represent them will help make them more real, and allow you to think from their perspective. It’s also a good way to get people across your organisation involved in and thinking about audiences - from the technical team to the volunteers.
If you're ready to take your audience research to the next level, check out our blog on the other types of audience data that are available to you.