Your Audience is Your Friend, Get to Know Them Well

by Elaina

Flickr image by user jimpg2_Peace Group

Last week, I wrote about choosing content like you would choose a gift for a good friend. It’s best not to just choose what you want them to have, but something that they’d actually like.

For some nonprofits and businesses though, getting to know your audience well enough to do that can be a challenge, especially if you are in a situation of having hundreds or more followers before you try to get to know them. Here are some tips to help you get to know your audience better:

1. Look for their demographic data.

Demographic data, while general, is still very valuable in creating valuable content and choosing the best avenues for reaching them. For instance, if your Twitter audience is largely out of your immediate area, then tweeting coupons to use at your physical location won’t impress them.

Use the Insights tool for your Facebook page to learn the age distribution of your fans, their gender, and their location. Twitter doesn’t provide these kinds of insights, but you can pull good information with third-party tools. My favorite Twitter analysis tool is SocialBro, which can help you look at your followers by location, influence, activity frequency and bio keyword.

For your email followers or donors, you will often be compiling this information manually. If you can, add fields to your donor database to record things like their approximate or actual age, their gender and communication preferences, so that you can better know how to reach them.

2. Look at their activities.

Regularly review your social media activities to learn which kinds of content resonate best with your followers. Use Facebook Insights to learn which posts received the most likes and shares, and review your website analytics to see which posts receive the most visits. Tools like Hootsuite and can give you similar information about the links that you share on Twitter. Dig into Google Analytics to see which content on your website gets the most visits.

3. Don’t overly rely on formulas.

There are many blog posts floating around the internet about which types of blog posts generate the most traffic and leads. These can be helpful ways to get your creative juices flowing, but remember that their stats are based on general information. You may find that your audience doesn’t respond well to a type of blog post promoted by others. Rather than keeping on with that style, use more of what your audience actually likes.

4. Ask them.

If you aren’t getting very good information from the research tips outlined above, try just asking your audience. It’s easy to build an online survey that you can distribute via email or social media. (Here’s a good post on choosing the survey tool that’s best for you.) Make sure to keep surveys like this short – 6 questions tops – so that more people will fill it out.


Has your nonprofit or business taken time to get to know your audience? What tactics did you use to learn more about them? How has learning more helped your communications and content strategies? Answer these or ask your own questions in the comments.