Finding your online audience is not always straightforward – after all, the web is a big place!
We’ve already talked about the importance of developing a great content strategy in order to build an online audience – such as having a website that’s optimised for search engines and mobile devices, promoting your content on social media, and repurposing your content.
Now we delve a bit deeper into what you can do to find out where your target audience hot spots are.
The first step is to identify your target audiences – that is, who they are, what they want, their interests and challenges, what motivates them, what problem you can solve for them, and what your ideal customer looks like.
Once you have done this and created audience personas, you should be ready to do some research in order to find out where they hang out and engage with them.
Suggestions and ideas for finding your hot spots
1. Investigate social media communities
A lot of people participate in social media these days, and it’s important to take advantage of it. Social platforms enable you to create your own business page, check out the competition (including who is active on their pages and what they are saying), join interest groups, start conversations, and connect with partners, clients, bloggers and others.
Tips for online audience targeting:
- Facebook – use Facebook to search for people, businesses, fan pages or hashtags in the search box, join and participate in interest groups, create your own community on your business page through Facebook for Business, and find some of your key influencers / sharers.
- Google+ – allows you to create your own collection of interests, search for communities and interests, find and follow people, categorise your customers into groups (Circles), create events that link up to your Google calendar, and connect with others through Hangouts.
- LinkedIn – this platform has been designed specifically for business professionals. You can use it to search for keywords or terms, join groups, check out who has viewed your profile, participate in conversations, browse group members, publish articles, make new connections and form relationships.
- Twitter – use Twitter to check what is trending and use the search box to find people, hashtags and information on topics.
In using social media, you need to be focused more on sharing and engaging with your audience rather than on the hard sell. It’s also important that your efforts are very focused based on where your audience spends most of their time, rather than fragmented across every single platform.
2. Search engines
Use Google or other search engines to search for the use of specific keywords or terms relating to your business or industry, to find communities – such as interest groups or forums – or to find blogs or articles around a specific topic. By doing so you may come into contact with all kinds of potential contacts from customers and partners to bloggers and influencers.
3. SEO content audit
Perform an SEO content audit on your site content. This has multiple benefits. It can:
- identify the content that’s currently attracting the most visitors, and the channels through which those visitors are discovering your content;
- highlight opportunities to improve some pages and posts to increase traffic;
- identify outdated or low quality content that might be giving visitors a negative impression;
- help you to see ‘content gaps’ in relation to your buyer personas or the buyer journey;
- give you an excellent overview of what’s working and what isn’t – and this can inform your content strategy and planning, and revisions of site content.
An SEO content audit can help you better understand your existing audience, and take steps to improve their engagement with your content.
4. Software apps
Some of the programs below are free and others come with free trials, which means you can try them out to see which ones work best for you.
- Mention – media monitoring application you can use for scouring the media to find out who is talking about your brand, competitors, industry, services, and topics of interest, and / or for analysing public opinion.
- Social Mention – social media real-time search and analysis tool that can be used to track what people are saying on social platforms.
- Board Reader – useful tool for searching forums and other communities, as well as websites, press releases and news items.
- TwtbaseTwitterel – enables you to find Twitter users with specific interests.
- Riffle by CrowdRiff – a free Chrome extension that you can use for Twitter engagement, activity and analysis – such as finding out who your main Twitter influencers are. Riffle also integrates with other applications such as Mention, Hootsuite and Salesforce.
- Quora – Q & A forum which you can use to ask questions, provide answers, and start conversations.
- Meetup – can be used to find out about meetings and events in your region.
- Intercom – customer intelligence and messaging platform that comes with a suite of products for communicating with customers.
5. Go offline
Sometimes finding your online audience might require a little offline networking! Make yourself known at networking events, and don’t be afraid to ask others – such as people you do business with or with similar businesses to yours – where they interact with their target audiences.
Establishing an online audience and engaging with them in the places they like to hang out on the web can help you create a strong, loyal and vibrant customer base for your business, and make your marketing efforts worthwhile!