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Knowing your audience

The step explores how audience research can help you understand your audience, design solutions and the messages which will resonate with them.

Understanding your current audience and identifying target audiences is an important aspect of any kind of marketing, including on social media. How can you know your audience?

Hand holding a pen to a clipboard or checklist with answers representing research

The answer is through research. This could include looking in detail at existing data about current customers, for example metrics and customer attitudes. It could also include finding out what you can about who competitors or similar businesses are targeting.

It should also mean thinking critically about your own service or product. This means considering what frustrations it proposes to solve and who would likely be its most relevant audience. Both areas of research can give you an insight which will help you to better understand your audience and the messages, formats and scheduling which may appeal to them.

To better understand current and potential customers, you may want to consider the following points:

  • Location
  • Age range
  • Gender
  • Profession
  • Interests
  • Stage of life (eg new graduates, retired)
  • Online habits
  • Frustrations
  • Desires

Be prepared to also consider questions about your own product or service such as:

  • Is it a big investment or an inexpensive impulse purchase?
  • Is it a regular or single purchase?
  • What is the main problem that your product or service solves?
  • Is it something that is available from other providers?

It can also be helpful to think about the most important thing that someone should know, see or experience about your product/service before buying. For example, Apple always focuses on sleek design and Spotify’s focus is the vast music library of 50 million tracks.

Once you have undertaken research and thought carefully about likely audiences, it’s helpful to structure your findings for easy reference. Here is an example in a table.

Samir: Sussex Pet Services

About them Target audience 1
Age range 30-45
Location Brighton, UK + 5 miles
Gender Female
Interests Eating out, relaxing, holidays, pet cats
Life stage Full-time work, married, no children
Social media Instagram, Facebook
Goals Going on holiday knowing cats are looked after
Frustrations No family nearby to look after cats
Other criteria Cost of cattery is prohibitive

Using relevant information from your research, you can use this formula to summarise your target audience findings:

The target audience is [gender/age range/job title], who live in [location] and enjoy [activity].
Target audience 1 is [bio] who are [life stage], who live in [location] and need to [pain point].
For example:
One target audience for Sussex Pet Services is working women who live in or near Brighton and who have no-one to look after their cats when they go away for the weekend.
Expressing the target audience in terms of who they are and their challenges can be really helpful in creating messages which are going to appeal to or resonate with them.
Using the table provided, think about Samir’s dog walking and pet sitting services, or another of the case studies presented in Step 1.4. Have a go at sketching your own target audience profile and statement.

Try it out:

Use the Comments section to share your audience statement and reflect on what you created.
  • Is it similar to others? How is it different?
  • Which elements of bio data or hypothetical research did you focus on in determining the audience?
© University of Leeds
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