To combat the challenges of information overload, excessive stimulation and shortening attention spans, content needs to offer real value. And to rise above audience saturation and scepticism, your posts must have true purpose.
Originality, quality and imagination are key. So is a well-planned distribution strategy. But before that, it’s essential you have a clear picture of your audience.
Here are three fundamentals of audience analysis that we try to answer before we shoot a single frame of video, take a photo or write a word.
- Identify audience needs
There’s an old phrase (an equation, perhaps) that bounces around content marketing agencies: Attention = Utility + Entertainment. And it continues to be relevant, no matter the channel. If you can fulfil a need that you know exists for your audience, in a way that entertains them, you’ll earn their attention.
But to deliver, you need to know how to be useful. And you can only determine that with a deep understanding of your audience. What do they care about? What challenges are they facing right now? What are the attributes that your brand has that you can utilise to tap into those cares and challenges? What emotional benefits can you offer them? In what ways are they likely to be affected by whatever it is that you ultimately want to talk about?
It’s important to answer these questions comprehensively and thoughtfully using insight, but it’s crucial to add a healthy dose of your own common sense and experience. In many ways, it’s not important how you get to the answers; what’s essential is that you establish a clear picture of what matters to your audience, and build content in response to that.
- Be wary of mission creep
It’s tempting to spread the net wide, especially when budgets are restricted. Why limit your thinking just to audience A, when you can throw in audiences B, C and even D, too?
But if it’s challenging to be relevant to one audience, it’s even harder to be relevant to several, as each will have its own distinct priorities, interests and needs. In the real world, of course, there’s always more than one audience, and there may even be areas of overlap between them, but by putting them into an order of priority – primary, secondary and tertiary – and then planning content and resources accordingly, your budget can make the greatest possible impact where and when it matters most.
- Distribution first, content second
Don’t create amazing content and only then decide how to distribute it. It’s far better to start with a clear idea of the best distribution channels for your audience and build the content from there. Think about:
- Search (on both browsers and social platforms) – What insights about the search terms used by your audience can be applied?
- Channels – Which ones do they use and in what order?
- Habits – How do they consume content? When, and how frequently?
- Influencers – Who will they listen to? Who will they ignore?
- Location – Where will the audience encounter your content? Will they have access to sound? Will they have time for a longer video or in-depth read?
This tried and tested method will not only help you know your audience inside out and engage them with relevant stories, it’ll make your content create a bigger splash, while giving your audience the ammunition they need to share your story and tell their own.