It goes without saying that understanding your audience is an important part of any social media strategy. Studying demographics like gender, age, interests and location will help you develop a persona to direct your content to. There are many layers to effectively analyzing an audience. You can elevate your research beyond a superficial analysis by taking a closer look at what’s motivating your audience on social media and creating content that’s relevant to those motivators.
In a recent HubSpot study of 3,665 respondents, the research team organized consumer behaviors on social media into five distinct categories: Bridging, bonding, communicating, discovery and taking action. Within these five categories, they identified how social media platforms align with typical audiences. Identifying why users gravitate toward certain platforms helps content strategists determine how to strategically allocate social media efforts on each platform.
Audiences who use social media to bridge are networking and connecting with brands and companies. Those driven by bonding appreciate authenticity and the “behind the scenes” look into a brand. The communicating driver refers to quick and easy messaging (think the easiest way to keep in touch with friends). Audiences seeking to discover want to be informed with content relating to their personal interests. And the fifth category, taking action, refers to users who are doing just that. For example, streaming music or monitoring their kid's online behaviors. Determining what your marketing goals are based on these five motivation pillars is a stepping stone for identifying the best channel and content to complement those motivators.
Within the five categories, the HubSpot research team identified three actions that result from these motivators: Brand investigation, brand advocacy and content blocking. Brand investigation refers to steps to learn about and discover the brand (visiting the website, following on social media, subscribing to a newsletter). These actions are ideal for businesses with brand awareness as a goal. Brand advocacy is achieved when those audiences act as an ambassador for your brand, whether it’s sharing content, writing a review or geotagging. Any action that strengthens that existing relationship falls under the brand advocacy category. Blocking content results from interacting with something on social media that does not resonate with the user or evokes a negative emotion.
After establishing these motivators and pairing reactions, the HubSpot research team took into consideration how the different social media channels aligned with the behaviors. Some highlights from their findings included:
Twitter is an effective platform for brand investigation and advocacy. Companies with a focus on brand awareness should use the platform to leverage a positive presence online.
Facebook users will often advocate for brands they love but are, on the flip side, more likely to block branded content. This is why it’s important to curate content that you know they’ll be in favor of and share with their personal networks.
Instagram is a moderate platform for both brand advocacy and investigation. For example, geotagging on Instagram is a great way to drive traffic to a physical store.
Although not much advocacy or investigation are happening on apps like Facebook messenger, they found it was very important to be prompt in responding to direct messages across platforms. Audiences value being heard, and response time is a factor when forming opinions.
YouTube is huge for brand investigation. Audiences flock to this streaming service to both learn and be entertained, so it’s the perfect place to build your brand and connect with audiences through video content.
By examining the ‘why’ behind the different platforms you can predict behavioral responses to the content you select. The next question is, naturally, “What type of content should you be planning to align with these findings?” Content should either identify with the audience, inform the audience or evoke emotion from the audience. For example, it may come as no surprise due to recent concerns over Facebook’s validity, but news and current events don’t do as well on Facebook as humorous or sympathetic content that elicits an emotion. Instagram is an effective platform to post content that identifies with the audience, particularly content that portrays who people may want to be in the future. Content should be unique based on the goals of different platforms.
Understanding the content preferences for each platform based on the motivators and typical actions will give you a head start over your competition when planning content for social media. Click here to read the full results of the HubSpot survey. Once people view your content, how they feel afterward also drives action. To take a deeper look into how social media affects our moods, check out our previous blog.
Story By: Sophie Duncan