Whatever your reason for creating content, one thing is always true. The more you know about your audience, the more effective your content will be. If you really want to reach your goals, it’s time to take ownership of your data so you can understand your audience better.
The importance of knowing your audience
Most creators have a “target audience” they tailor their content to- some demographic they’d like to reach. A lot of times these “buyer personas” are made either using outside data (that is, general market information and predictions) or no data at all.
However, your target audience is not the same thing as your actual audience. Your actual audience consists of the people who are watching and engaging with your content right now. It’s based in reality, with actionable information rather than assumptions about a persona.
This is a much more important group than your target audience. Focusing on your actual audience is more productive due to the simple fact that you’re not trying to get their attention- you already have it.
You might ask, “Why is it important to make that distinction? If my actual audience is already watching, can’t I just keep aiming for my target audience and pull them both together?”
The problem with that line of thinking is that when you create content for your target audience without considering your actual audience, you can lose those valuable productive members. With no guarantee you can attract your target audience, that could leave you with falling reach.
You have to find ways to stay true to your brand’s style and messaging while also speaking to your audience. Present content in a way the audience understands and can engage with. Offer things they’re comfortable seeing, plus some extras they might be interested in but don’t know yet.
Knowing your audience and creating for them pays off. You’ll find yourself with more views and richer engagement. Content will be shared more often, and with those who could be interested in becoming a fan as well.
Having a better understanding of your audience has financial benefits, too. You’ll get better access to high-value sponsorships with a well segmented audience, and you can make more efficient use of your production budget.
So…. how do you go about knowing your actual audience?
Owning your data is key
The best measure of what your audience wants is what they do with the content you’ve already shared. Study how they respond to your current and past work by digging into your data.
There are a lot useful metrics to consider:
- Views: What are they watching?
- Time on platform: How long do they spend with your content?
- Bounce rates: What content makes them click away immediately?
- Likes, shares, and comments: What are they engaging with?
- RSVP’s to events: What are they excited about?
- Re-watches: Are they watching certain content again and again?
- Older content with high views: What makes this content evergreen? How can you incorporate that into your ongoing content strategy?
- Live stream attendance: What makes people rearrange their schedule?
- Purchases: What events, merchandise, and digital content inspires a purchase?
- Responsiveness to marketing materials: Are people opening your email or push notifications?
Gathering this data is often the tricky part. You can find some of it- especially views and surface engagement data- using social media metrics. This is usually the first data source most creators use starting out.
However, technically you have no ownership of your social media data. You are only entitled to what the specific platform chooses to share, and they can change or revoke that access at any time.
There are a number of third party tools that can be used to track your current social media statistics and changes over time. You can then correlate that to your content, giving you some insight.
Surveys are a way to gather information directly from your audience. You can ask them what they like and don’t like without having to make guesses from information. This is somewhat limited in scope, though, and using it too much can alienate your audience. People tend not to want to share information about themselves to enjoy content.
A creator-owned platform is the best way to take control of your data. It provides the highest level of transparency into your audience’s behavior surrounding your content. You can integrate analytics tools to track platform activity and present it through an easy-to-read dashboard, taking the work out of
It may take a bit more work to set up, but once a creator-owned platform is running it’s the only option that truly generates enough data to segment your audience and create data-driven user profiles.
How to shape content using your data
You’ve realized that knowing your audience is important, and you’ve gathered your data. Now it’s time to combine the two. Keep these core concepts in mind as you create content.
- Prioritize most effective content: Front-load the content you know will perform well to keep engagement and growth high. 70% of your content should be things that will almost certainly resonate with your audience. 20% can be experimental or personal content you’re testing out. Keep sponsored content at 10% or less to avoid looking like an infomercial.
As experimental content gains popularity, you can start counting it with that 70% effective content. This is one way you can reach towards a target audience without losing your actual audience.
- Present new content in best light. Set yourself up for success by premiering new content in the most effective medium. Does your audience respond best to live streams? Blog posts? Recorded videos?
Use your data to identify the highest levels of engagement and launch new types of content that way whenever possible.
- Read the room. Keep track of how your audience is responding to your content on an ongoing basis. Ask questions like:
- Are most comments positive or negative?
- Do app downloads rise after some types of content?
- What emotes are being used?
- Do emotes match the tone you were aiming for with the content?
- Does some content have very high bounce rates?
- Does some content inspire people to stay on platform longer?
Finally and most importantly, always stay flexible. Your audience can change and evolve, and that’s a good thing. Just keep an eye on your data to be sure you’re on top of the changes so you can grow along with them.
Ready to take ownership of your data? FanHero can give you a backstage pass to your audience with a high-powered suite of analytics tools. Reach out today to find out what’s possible!