Last time, we looked at the importance of knowing what you need to achieve with the content that you are sharing. Step two of the content framework is reviewing exactly who the audience for your content is.
Making content specifically for your target audience is so important that Nick almost called his book – ‘it’s all about the audience’ – 'The New Fire' is admittedly a little more dynamic. It is very easy to think that you are doing this but far too many communicators produce communications that tailor to themselves, to their own needs, interests and motivations. Take the time to understand exactly who they are, demographically and psychographically.
What do we mean by that?
Demographics cover a range of facts that illustrate who the audience member is. There are huge amounts of data available online, which is one of the main reasons that the major social networks and e-commerce sites have been able to make such vast amounts of money.
Data is hugely valuable, and yet most web users are happy to give theirs away in return for the ‘free’ usage of the service – an online map for example. This huge amount of data means that these companies can charge large amounts for marketing, because the information they have means that marketing messages can be extremely targeted.
Examples of demographic information:
- Marital status
- Sexual orientation
Geographics are similar to demographics in that they are also facts. You can just spread your net to include a smaller or wider grouping of them. Do be aware that you may find that these are impacted by visits by bots Geographics include the following:
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The problem with Demographics, an example...
The major issue is that information is just data. It doesn’t tell you enough about the underlying motivations of the target persona. This can lead to challenges. For example, we may be looking to target this person:
- Over 60 years old
- High net worth
- Has children
- Drives expensive cars
- Lives in a large house
- Has pets
The Prince of Wales
The Prince of Darkness
This unlikely pairing both fall into the aforementioned data pool.* Because of this, it is useful to consider other factors that are more instructive of the type of content they may engage with.
* Thanks to Richard Purvis from Crunch Simply Digital for this example.
“The study and classification of people according to their attitudes, aspirations and other psychological criteria, especially in market research.”
Where demographics are a collection of objective data, psychographics are subjective information. This makes them extremely useful for marketers, because they allows us to understand the audience’s motivations. Once we understand these, we can start to communicate with them in a way that will engage and drive them to action.
Psychographics are also known as IAO variables: interests, activities and opinions. I find it more helpful to think of them in this way, as it makes it easier to think about, and the word ‘psychographics’ sounds pretty much like jargon. IAO information is, by its nature, fuzzier than the solid, black- and-white facts of demographics. In reality, it is far more useful.
On top of interests, activities and opinions, psychographic information includes personality, values and lifestyle. These give us a far clearer way of thinking about what will engage the audience member. As we can see here:
- Lives in Brooklyn, NY
- Born in the UK
- Plays guitar in a band
- Likes travel, festivals & gigs
- Loves fish and chips
- Subscribes to Rolling Stone
- Follows Radiohead on Instagram
By looking at the demographic information, we can see just how valuable the additional psychographic information is to someone looking to create content for this man. The demographic information could point us towards anyone from a banker working on Wall Street to a youth-group worker or a dustman – this makes targeting them challenging. You could take out a billboard in Manhattan, for example, but that’s not exactly cost-effective/efficient.
The psychographic information, on the other hand, allows us to understand exactly how to communicate on a level that will engage him. For example, we could share trailers for a video series on a road trip to a festival in South Africa. You could enhance the offer with a competition to win tickets and travel to the same festival next year. We are only able to offer this because we understand what makes our target audience tick.
Once you know what the audience likes/wants/needs to watch, then you can look at what you do as a company and see what you can create and share for them. There is naturally a fine balance to creating the content that people want to watch and plugging your company/products.
The content that you produce should lie at the intersection between what will be of value to your identified audience and your purpose as a business.
Creating target-audience personas
A target-audience persona is a fictional person who exhibits the characteristics of your target audience.
This helps you to think more clearly about them.
This is where the whole audience-targeting process gets creative. Rather than thinking about target-audience groupings as an amorphous mass of people – which is where it’s easy to go wrong (targeting millennials is an archetypal example of this*) – it helps to create a stereotype individual.
* Although it is often put forwards as a target grouping, a millennial is anyone born between 1982 and 2000. This is far too broad a category to engage effectively, certainly with a single output. You need to be far more specific by adding in more criteria with which to differentiate them.
Or, better still – to reflect the wider group – five stereotyped individuals. Each character should be (as much as possible) a living, breathing character with a backstory. This will help you think about the different ways that you can engage them.
Start by giving them a memorable name, for example:
- Tracy the Techie
- Simon the Scientist
- Grace the Graduate
- Tim the Trainee
This helps to kickstart your creative thinking for the next stage.
Paint a picture of their character by asking questions about them and the things they do. This is best done with a few members of the team, so you can bounce suggestions off each other.
Questions might include the following:
- Where do they live?
- Where do they get their news?
- What do they do at the weekend?
- What music do they listen to?
- What blogs do they read?
- What are their hopes/dreams/goals?
- What’s the first thing they think about in the morning?
One of the most important things to know about any audience is what their ‘pain points’ are. These are their concerns or fears: the things that keep them up at night. The main reason for their high value to us, as communicators, is that the fear of loss is a far greater motivator for action than the promise of gain. People obviously have a very wide range of these, from the minor (e.g. finding a parking space) to the existential fear of illness and death. As you can tell from this last – maybe crass – example, you want to be very careful how you use these. You want your content to assist, not fear monger among your audience. You should know their fears, so that you can know how to remedy or soften them.
Pain-point questions might include these:
- What keeps them up at night?
- What are they worried about at work?
- What is the hardest thing they have to deal with day to day?
- What is their greatest fear/insecurity?
- What annoys them about something that they do regularly?
For example, a new parent will be very interested in content that helps them live the life they led before they had their baby.
Once you have a clear idea of the questions that you want to answer, you should fill in as many of them as possible that you know. You may already have much of the information you need. Try to build up as much of a picture of the different personas as possible. There are a few different ways that you can gather the data you need to do this:
- Share a survey with existing customers
- Interview clients
- Use social media tracking/monitoring tools; e.g. Facebook Dashboard
- Research websites/forums/blogs
- Evaluate your website / use Google Analytics
- Look at Quora/Reddit
Bear in mind that some of the online data may be generated by bots. Because of this, you need to make a sharp assessment as to how much you can trust. Be thorough, and discount information that is false. If you are unsure, look at ways that you know are secure – interviews, blogs from known sources, and focus groups.
Sharing content for your target group
Once you have clear personas agreed, you can start to think about the type of content that they will respond to. This should feed into your briefing document.
You should also think about where that content should be distributed to get the best engagement from your target group. One of the great things about sharing content online is that it allows you to target your audience with remarkable accuracy. It also allows you to see how the audience grouping responds to different types of content, which, in turn, allows you to tailor the message/content to get the best response. This could be as simple as changing the title or thumbnail image, right through to full reshoots/re-edits.
If you're interested in using video on your social channels it's important to get the length right for the platform. You can download our guide to doing that right here.