Do Your Homework.
There are a multitude of tools to help you research where your ideal audience is hanging out online (both free and paid). Conducting a little desktop research can help you identify which social media platforms might be the most effective for whom you’re trying to reach.
It may sound daunting, but one of our favorites resources for this type of audience research is the Pew Internet & American Life Studies. They’ve always got insightful reports that talk to how people are connecting online. For example, a recent study by Pew found that 18% of cellphone owners user Instagram to share photos and videos. Sounds like a wonderful place to find new audiences if you have rich-media content (photos and videos) to share.
Quantcast also does a good job of giving you the audience profile for various websites. For example, if you know you’d like to reach audiences who might also appreciate sites like Martha Stewart Living, you could plug www.MarthaStewartLiving.com into Quantcast, and it would provide with you an audience summary of the type of people who visit that site. The audience summary includes a list of other sites and communities those users are likely to interact with. In our Martha Stewart Living example, visitors to that site are also likely to spend time on Facebook & MySpace.
As with finding your ideal audience, there are a multitude of resources to help you listen in on the conversations your soon-to-be-audience is having. We recommend getting familiar with the following tools to listen in on and then join relevant conversations:
Google Alerts are emails sent to you when Google finds new results – such as web pages, newspaper articles, or blogs – that match your search term. You can use Google Alerts to monitor anything on the Web. Some examples include:
In addition to the Twitter trends you see on your Twitter homepage, there are also tools that allow you track conversations happening locally. For example, Trendsmap lets you visualize topics trending globally, nationally and in your city.
Google Trends shows you the hottest searches online for any given day. This is really helpful in determining why certain conversations are happen across multiple channels.
Mention Mapp is a great tool for using your current Twitter audience to find new audiences and conversations to join. It provides a spider web visualization tool to show you what your audiences are talking about and how they’re connected other users.
There a hundreds of tweetchats and tweetups happening on any given day and Tweet Reports helps you find the ones that matter to you.
Now that you know what type of people you’re interested in engaging with and where they hang out online, it’s time to engage them with compelling content tailored to their interests. Our rules of engagement are as follows:
Rinse and Repeat.
Audience prospecting is a never-ending process because change is a constant online. We recommend doing a quarterly audience check-up to make sure you’re still effectively reaching your target audiences.
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