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3 Ways to Understand Your Online Audience

Updated: Oct 1, 2018

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Social media thrives on communication. It was created to connect people digitally, keeping them up-to-date with friends, family and current events. It’s no secret brands also utilize social media to connect with people, especially potential product users and audience members.

Yet just because a brand or organization reads comments and replies doesn’t mean they truly understand their audience. To simply receive these messages and respond with a like or brief sentence is what we call social monitoring. Although this is essential for an organization’s success on social media, it doesn’t help them gain much significant insight.

Instead, brands need to learn how to effectively listen on social media. To do so, a message or comment needs to be analyzed in terms of future steps that need to be taken, paying attention to keywords and looking beyond the numbers.

But why should brands care about this type of listening? What makes it so important?

1. Make your Brand Approachable

It’s like talking to a friend. If you’re confiding in a friend and you can tell they’re not listening, chances are you won’t approach them in the same way again.

The same concept goes for brands.

Listen to your audience. Whether someone is complaining about you or complimenting you, try to understand and hear what he or she has to say. In a study by Sprout Social, researchers found nearly 90% of social media messages are ignored. In the off chance brands respond to a message, they fail to do so in a timely manner. Most people expect a reply in 0-4 hours, but organizations typically take 10+ hours to respond.

Don’t be that person. Listening allows you to gain real-time insight into how your brand is performing, so take advantage of that knowledge!

2. Expand your Conversations

It’s easy to track the topics and ideas related directly to your brand, but it’s important to go bigger, too.

Look beyond your tags. Look at people who are talking about you but not directly tagging you. Look at people who may be misspelling the name of your brand.

This will expand your opportunities immensely, allowing you to join other conversations. Not only does this get your name out into the social media world, but it will help build long-lasting, meaningful relationships.

With all of this in mind, don’t be afraid to reach out to top people, too. Get their support and listen to their opinions. Having a person tell a friend about your brand can help your name spread like wildfire.

3. How are Others Talking? Does it Work?

What do people care about? How are they talking about those topics?

These are important questions to ask yourself when looking at expanding your conversations, and answering them can help you gain better knowledge about topics related to your brand. Learning this vocabulary will help you speak the same language as your audience. After all, don’t you want to be on the same page as them?

In a similar sense, look at how other brands and companies are engaging with their users. How are they listening? Does it work?

There is no cookie cutter way to properly listen, but that doesn’t mean you should ignore it! Be approachable, engage in bigger conversations, learn what works and gain feedback!


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