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What’s in an Audience?

Posted by: Andy Cooper, Head of Content

Audience segmentation is difficult.

In the ‘early days’ of social there was (and to an extent still is) a race to acquire as many fans as possible, irrespective of the ‘quality’ (i.e. relevance) of follower. Anyone was welcome! Even if they’d never heard of your product…

Incentives were rife. This, and the cultural differences across age groups, genders, and countries (sometimes even regions or cities) have lead to many brands accidentally stumbling into a dilemma. Now they’re moving beyond acquisition, they’ve discovered that their social followings are a strange mix of people – many of whom have ‘liked’ or ‘followed’ or even, occasionally, ‘+1’d’ a brand they wouldn’t normally identify with in order to obtain a free sample, voucher or chance to win a holiday. Turns out (if the price is right) Grandma loves Grindhouse, Absolut Vodka and Adidas.

This is something we recently looked at for one of our clients, by testing out a modest paid budget against their existing fan audience and measuring the engagement on content specifically segmented (or ‘bucketed’, as we call it) by interest, matched against age and gender.

Four age groups and two genders were established, and the same content was shown to each of the 8 groups (at as close to the same level of reach as we could muster across each group).

Looking at the manner in which each group reacted to the different content, we could then establish what the different segments of our audience liked. For example, the older members of our fan base were more welcoming of product-centric content, whereas our younger audience enjoyed Instagram submissions from other fans.

We discovered that our core target demographic (the ever-elusive 16-34 year olds) was, as a percentage, less engaged than other demographics we had on the page. Whilst overall reach was much higher within that demographic, and they themselves are probably the least likely to interact with our content (due to the nature of them being young and cynical), it was still good to confirm our suspicions with data, as we now knew the scale of the challenge ahead of us. It wasn’t insurmountable.

So, what did we do? We’ve started to produce content specific to those demographics that we want to ensure we hit. This may be as simple as changing the language and tone of content, or it may mean creating entirely new content. We can then target to these individual demographics and see if they engage on a greater level. It makes sense – the best salesmen adapt to the people they’re talking to.

The next steps? Go further. With interest group targeting we can see how different social groups react to different content. This is invaluable if you’re working with a big, multi-faceted organisation that has fingers in many pies. Why? It’s another step towards feeling more personal – connecting with your audience in a manner that they enjoy and can appreciate. We’re bringing relevant content to them, and thanks to a simple test and some strategic thinking, we’ve established just what that content is. And that’s what social is meant to be about, right?

Relevance and personalisation of content is only going to become more important to consumers, especially as it’s getting easier to make that happen.

Andy Cooper, Head of Content, TBG

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