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How to Build Powerful Audience Segments with Better Insights

By Derek Franks  •  December 9, 2019

Audience segmentation is made easier and more effective thanks to social listening insights. Here's your guide on how to do it right.

How to Build Powerful Audience Segments with Better Insights

Posted by: Derek Franks on December 9, 2019
Accurate audience segmentation requires a ton of work and often involves unreliable methods.

Brands frequently miss the correct data on audiences, and that leads to a mountain of problems: bad audience segmentation can doom everything from customer targeting, advertising, product innovation, and competitive advantages.

The insights available through social listening go beyond demographics to implement psychographic segmentation. Paired with demographic data, it helps you understand the why—the goals, challenges, emotions, values, habits, and hobbies that drive purchase decisions. Social listening psychographic segmentation is unique in that it is based off of unsolicited consumer conversations that show how people identify themselves and their beliefs.

This data pinpoints key insights about targeted audience groups that can’t be found with other methods.

How can you use social listening for better audience segmentation?

This article is your official guide. We’ll show you how to use social listening to create these 4 real-life audience segments:

1. Brand Advocates
2. Product-Focused audience segments
3. Topic-Focused audience segments
4. Generational Audience Segments

Ahead, we'll see examples of how to build audience segments for each of those scenarios.
 
But first, to get your thoughts moving, there is an extensive list of the psychographic and demographic information you have to choose from when using social listening for audience segmentation:
 
SEGMENTATION OPTION IDEAS
Demographics
   What demos does the typical audience belong to: age, gender, etc.?
Characteristics
   How do they identify themselves online? Mom, grandparent, religious, political affiliation, LGBTQ+,
   gamer, autoworker, daycare worker
Brand Affiliation
  Do they talk about specific brands or products? Do they need to talk about them in a positively
   or negatively?
Interests
   What are the topical interests or affinities -- skiing, activism, donating, world peace, shopping, traveling,
   watching movies, home automation?
Consideration + Intent
   What behaviors does the segment exhibit towards a brand or topic-- consideration, purchase intent,
   acquisition, loyalty, churn, etc.?
Emotions
   What are the emotions of various consumers within the segment toward a topic or brand? For example,
   do brand advocates express a high amount of “joy”?
Keywords
   Are there top keywords, positive/negative topics, hashtags, etc that need to be considered when looking
   for consumers?
Geographics 
   Target by geography tagged inside posts or self-identified geographic placements such as #NYlife or
   #midwestsunsets
Language Spoken
   Are you looking for just English speakers, or dual-language speakers such as sources who speak in both
   English and Spanish.
Social Followers
   Do you want to limit the amount of social influence that your target has? No more than 1,000 followers?
Channel Focus
   Do you want to find consumers only on Instagram versus Twitter or blogs? 
Frequency
   Do you want to find consumers who mention or talk about specific topics frequently?



Now that we’ve gone through the key metrics available, we’ll dive into four different types of personas that can be built using them: brand advocates, product-focused, topic-focused and generational.

 

Brand Advocates Audience Segment

Your first and most important audience segment is your brand advocate. These are your super fans. They’re loyal to you. They’re passionate customers who promote you to their peers. You’re part of their lifestyle. You should know them like the back of your hand.

To find advocates, you don’t want to just look for people who follow your brand. You want to find people who talk positively about your brand and do so often.

For an example we will look for Brand Advocates of outdoor apparel brand The North Face who are also Outdoor Enthusiasts.
 

Here is what we are looking for in our audience research:

-- A consumer who has spoken about the North Face brand positively 3 or more times in the past 24 months
and
-- Talks passionately about snowboarding, skiing, running, rock climbing, or bouldering
and
-- Are not ‘influencers’ (The source does not have more than 1,000 followers)

 
 
Using the above parameters, here is how we searched the audiences in our social listening platform and found an example of authors and posts from consumers in this audience segment. You can see how social listening research can accurately pinpoint specific audiences:
 
 
Audience Segments query builder-1
 
Using pre-built audience segment of The North Face brand advocates, we can analyze the millions of online conversations by those advocates and see who they are and what they say. Here’s an example of a member of The North Face audience’s posts that we discovered using social listening with the above search:

Audience Segment for Outdoor consumers and The North Face
 
Notice how the audience member does not mention The North Face here, but they clearly fall in the target audience of the group. Further research shows they’re a super fan:

The North Face audience segments with social listening data
 
Using audience segmentation capabilities within Infegy Atlas, we built a persona profile of the core fans of The North Face using our available social metrics.

Here’s what that audience segment persona profile looks like:

Outdoor audience segments for The North Face with social listening data

What makes this audience segmentation standout is the ability to find consumers who are talking about a brand positively, a specific number of times, over a specific period of time.

If you look only for consumers who follow a specific brand or talk about a brand, you could be bringing detractors into your audience segment instead of promoters. By using what consumers say broadly to create segments, you analyze them based on what they say and do, a much more reliable segment of brand advocates.
 
Next, let's look at audience segmentation from a different angle: product-based audience segments.
 

Product Focused Consumer Audience Segment

With social listening data, you can use the various metrics available to piece together a product-focused audience segment. For this segment, you'll be looking for consumers who talk about owning, using or buying specific products.

To find our product consumers, we want to identify people who talk either positively or negatively about the product.

For this example we’ll layer two audience segments, consumers that already show an affinity to buy smart home technology to see who consumers are they also talk about purchasing smart lighting.
 
 
   Here is a product-based audience segment we wanted to look for: 
 
-- Home Techie audience: consumers who state they own smart audio speakers, smart thermostats, smart doorbells, smart vacuums, or home streaming devices
 
and
 
-- Those who talk about wanting to purchase smart lighting 
 
 
Using the above criteria, you can build a data-driven persona tied to these specific products. Here’s what the home techie audience segment looking for smart lighting looks like:

 
Consumer tech trends and tech audience segments with social listening data
 
If you take an audience segment built with social listening and then dig further to look at what that specific audience is saying about a particular topic, you can learn so much more than you could from a typical audience segmentation tool.

For example, you can see that the Home Techies audience segment talks about Smart Lighting positively and that Smart Lighting conversations are more common by males than females, falling in the age range of 19-34.
 
You can go further: Home Techies who mention Smart Lighting have varied other interests and topics they discuss like culture, entertainment and video games. You can even see that within their conversations about Smart Lighting, the leading themes are promotions and discounts, the quality of the products, and convenience of the smart lighting products.

This is a perfect demonstration of how much you can learn and how deep you can go with psychographic audience segmentation with social listening.

Now, let’s take a look at building a topic-based audience segment.
 


Topical Persona: Healthy Lifestyles

You can also use these social insights to build out lifestyles-based audience segments. Think of these audience segments as those based upon interests and experiences that aren’t necessarily brand- or product-related.

In a recent consumer insights report for the health and wellness industry, we crafted four “Healthy Lifestyles” personas with our social insights: the Casual Dieter, the Fitness Fanatic, the Wellness Guru and the Organic consumer.
 

Here is what we were looking for with each one:

-- Casual Dieter - Consumers who talk about counting calories or talking about specific diet plans
-- Fitness Fanatic - Consumers who talk about fitness or working out more than 2x in 12 months
-- Wellness Guru - Consumers who mention meditation, self care, and changing their personal habits for wellness
-- Organic Consumer - Consumers who discuss eating organic foods or using organic products

 


From this research, we developed our personas, then also analyzed demographics, top linguistics and most-used hashtags for each one:
 
Health and Wellness audience segments with social listening data
 
 
In the rest of the report, we analyzed consumers’ healthy lifestyles, implementing these 4 personas where possible to get a highly detailed understanding of who each of these consumers are, what their habits and behaviors are, and what drives them to act.

Next, we’ll take audience segmentation even deeper by examining a generational, topical and brand-related segment:
 

Generational Audience Segment: Gen Z Netflix Audiences Who Speak English and Spanish

Overlaying different audience segments to find particular groups of consumers can be tricky. But it is your best bet in order to understand how niche groups of consumers talk about specific topics.

Take Generation Z, for example. Gen Z is still new to the market. While 40% of consumer sales are impacted by Gen Z, the group as a whole still isn’t buying enough to provide accurate sales data. But what Gen Z does do is talk online. And boy, do they talk online!

If you’re wanting to research and understand audiences in Gen Z, you might have a specific niche group from that generation that falls in your target.

What if we wanted to find Gen Z audiences who also speak multiple languages and also discuss a brand?

Using flexible search filters to find data on Gen Z consumer conversations, you can build custom audience segments based upon this generation or any other generation you’re wanting to look at (millennials, Gen X or Baby Boomers, etc.). Then you can add additional custom audiences on top to get more specific. Pro tip: most social analytics platforms aren’t able to do this.

For this example we’ll layer a few different segmentation analyses together as well as search for people talking about making a particular action.
 

Here’s what we wanted to find within that group who mentions Netflix:

-- Bi-lingual Spanish-English consumers who have self-identified as bi-lingual by saying a phrase such as “I am bilingual” in Spanish or for people saying broadly used Spanish terms like “trabajo” or “inglés”
AND
-- Those consumers talking about Netflix
AND
-- Those who are in the Generation Z age segment

 

And here’s the audience segment we built off of the data within our social listening platform:

Gen Z audience segments for Netflix with social listening data

The four previous audience segment examples with social listening have helped peel back the curtain in creating high-quality data-driven segments. But there are some considerations you definitely need to take into account when applying social data for audience segmentation:

 

Key Considerations

You can learn a lot about people by listening to what they say.


Accurate audience segmentation requires analyzing audience conversations across the web that are filled with biographical and psychographic information.


Social listening tools provide a powerful way to create a whole host of different types of audience segments, but there’s a few key things to consider when it comes to choosing the right social insights tools.


Many social tools don’t go far enough. For example, some tools can only find surface level information about audiences because they only analyze who they follow on Twitter or what they say in their Twitter bios.


Social listening tools like Infegy Atlas go much further, looking at what people say, how they describe themselves and their lifestyles. And they analyze at a multi-channel level, finding audience insights from channels all over the web, not just Twitter.


Here are a few important considerations when building audiences with social listening:

  • Base audience segments off what they say, not who they follow
    • Most social listening tools rely on who audiences follow, so their audience segments look like: “people who follow Taco Bell and also follow The Rock”
  • Build audiences based off of multi-channel sources, not just Twitter 
    • Our platform finds audience conversations and engagement for Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, micro blogs, forums and more
  • Combine audience segments for a more specific view
    • You can filter or combine audiences to get a segment like: “Gen Z The North Face fans”
  • But avoid going too specific with audience segments
    • We’ve seen some pretty wild attempts at audience segments, such as:  Females, age 23-40 who love the outdoors, want to be overachievers at work but also like to have fun with her friends. And they like animals. 
  • Look for psychographic details beyond just brand affinities
    • You can build audience segments like “gamers” and “YouTube watchers” or deeper like “Nike fans who are interested in photography” or “people who are in med school who love Taco Bell late night”

In order to understand your audiences and what drives them to act, think or feel towards a brand or topic, you need to have the right metrics to analyze what they say about themselves. 


We’ve demonstrated in this article how to use social listening for audience segmentation in an effective and flexible manner.


Implementing these social listening insights can help your team craft awesome segments of target audiences, brand advocates, generational segments and more.

 

If you’d like to put these powerful insights to use for your own audience segmentation, contact us today to see how they can help your team!

 

Topics: social media, audience segment, audience, social media listening, social listening, consumer research, social listening tools, competitive analysis, social listening data, demographics, buyer personas, customer personas, target audiences, how to use social listening, audience segments, audience segmentation, psychographics

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