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Audience Research on a Shoestring Budget

Ever play darts with a blindfold on? That is exactly what you’re doing if your social media marketing isn’t based on listening to your audience. Sure, you’re playing the game, and you may even be hitting the bullseye once in a while. But your chances of winning at darts blindfolded are as hit-and-miss as your method. Want to know how to increase your chances of winning at the social media marketing game? Start with audience research. And, you don’t need a big budget to do it right.

Successful campaigns, whether long or short term, have some earmarks. First, they are based on the needs of your audience, not on yours. Next, they are based on measurable goals. Not sure how to do that? Start with this classic piece from Amber Naslund. Also, they have multiple delivery channels with audience-specific content. Unless it’s a “Facebook-only” contest or has some other channel-specific purpose, effective campaigns have integrated delivery. Cross promotion is a must in today’s noisy world.

How can you base your social media marketing on the needs of your fans without knowing what they want and where they are? Here are three quick tips and a bonus tool for helping you gather valuable information about what your audience needs.

1. Build an email data base. The easiest way to conduct audience research is through a survey emailed out to people who have already given you their email addresses. Make sure you are collecting emails regularly—at every stakeholder event, through a newsletter sign-up, at speaking engagements, through referrals, at membership or ticket sign-ups. One word of caution: do not abuse the privilege of having email addresses. People are busy—don’t flood their Inbox with junk. Make every email count.

2. Use a low cost delivery tool. You can build an audience survey through a free or low cost tool like Survey Monkey. Most of the free tools put limits on the number of questions you can ask and what you can analyze. Survey Monkey allows free ten-question surveys. If you are going to do audience research once or twice a year, it’s probably worth getting a one-month subscription for less than twenty bucks.

3. Figure out which questions to ask to get the data you need. There are basic pieces of data you’ll need to gather: demographics, what social channels your fans use including how often, what time of day, and what their online behaviors are on each channel (read, like, comment, share, etc.). Tailor your questions to your objectives.

Ready to take that blindfold off? Let’s get the process started with simple audience research that doesn’t break the bank.

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