June 5, 2023

Uncovering The “Who” Behind Your Social Audience

A stylized black and white illustration of a woman opening stage curtains against a blue background.

What Makes Up an Audience?
“How can we best reach our social audience?” It’s a puzzle communication professionals are asked to solve time and time again. To find the answer, it first helps to understand the anatomy of an audience. 

According to Pew Research Center, more than 73% of Facebook users are aged 50-64, while only 14% of TikTok users fall in that same age group. Half of LinkedIn users make more than $75K per year versus the 29% of Snapchat users who make the same amount.

In other words, audiences are not single entities, but instead are made up of several sub-audiences, or segments, that can be split by analyzing their shared demographics, habits, and interests, among many other common traits.

Understanding your audience makeup provides a clearer picture of who you’re engaging on social media and uncovers new segments ripe with insights to unearth and users to reach. Let’s dive into how to do it.

Identifying Audience Segments
There are two primary methods of identifying social audience segments: affinity and interconnectedness. Both have their unique qualities and use cases.

Affinity segmentation looks at common threads between audience members based on who or what they like (think accounts followed or the content they enjoy). This type of report will uncover the audience with a demonstrated interest in a given brand, product, or service. 

Interconnectedness segmentation sifts audience members based on how they are connected to one another, such as job titles or companies. This type of report will unearth new social opportunities in a community.

Consider whether affinity or interconnectedness segmentation better aligns with your business goals. Affinity segmentation is helpful when crafting large brand campaigns, as well as discovering the core audiences within a social following. Interconnectedness is beneficial to find nuanced audiences or subsets to refine niche messaging and is often recommended for B2B companies.

After choosing a method, we can take the analysis a layer deeper by tapping into IAB Audience Taxonomy and open-source user data sources to group audience segments based on demographics, socioeconomic status, preferred platforms, and online habits. These characteristics feed into topline audience groups.

An infographic showing 4 audience groups: Digital Artists, Web Developers, Journalists/Freelancers, Gamers with percentages and demographics.

In the above example from a social audience report we ran on a well-established brand, we found that their audience was made up of four primary segments: Digital Artists, Web Developers, Journalists/Freelancers, and Gamers.

Using Watson AI, analysis can go even further in-depth to assign personality profiles to each group. For example, the Web Developers audience group displays higher creativity and an inclination to problem-solve, whereas Gamers demonstrate introspective tendencies and are heavily influenced by mood. Understanding personality and behavior differences empowers marketers to create personalized content and social activations that will align with their audience’s needs and interests, enhancing engagement and prompting desired actions.

Slide presents data about "Web Developers" with percentages on consumer habits and strategies on how to engage them.

For example, we know that the Web Developer segment following this job site is 9x more likely to be a Medium user than the US population. If there was a relevant product update for this segment, we would recommend partnering with influencers who reflect the same values and invite them to be guest writers for the site’s Medium account. 

A slide titled "Web Developers Insights & Actions" detailing their preferences and recommending marketing strategies.

Establish Social Audience Benchmarks
Using the report findings, you can benchmark audience group data against your brand’s existing social following to answer questions such as:

How do the audience groups align with your existing audience? If you identify a discrepancy between the two, you can find and engage relevant influencers to reach desired audiences. 

Does your existing follower base care about your product or service? If not, see what content they do care about by exploring their shared content affinity.

Are you hitting your audience growth goals? Examine likes, comments, link clicks, and other target metrics to analyze what content your audience members interact with. Then, you can implement those insights to drive engaging content that increases follower growth. 

How can these audiences be used? For loyalty? Customer advocacy? Groups with strong brand affinity may be better suited for loyalty, while groups whose members are influential in their communities could be effective for advocacy. 

Finding a Story Behind the Data
So, back to the initial question: “How can we best reach our social audience?”

First, understand who your audience is by identifying segments that share common affinities and characteristics.

With demographic and psychological profiles made possible by segmentation, you can then derive insights and establish benchmarks to determine if your brand’s social content is on the right path to successfully engaging your audience.

Interested in learning more? Check out this sample research report we put together, read through our FAQ below, and engage with us on social!


How do you measure the effectiveness of different content types across various audience segments?

  • Start by using social media analytics tools to track engagement metrics (likes, shares, comments) and conversion rates specific to content shared with different audience segments.
  • Conduct A/B testing with variations of content types across segments and analyze which versions perform best in terms of engagement and achieving desired actions (e.g., link clicks, sign-ups).

How can smaller businesses with limited resources effectively implement audience segmentation?

  • Focus on free or low-cost tools (such as native analytics provided by social media platforms) to start identifying basic audience segments.
  • Engage directly with your audience through social media polls, surveys, and conversations to gather insights and segment your audience based on feedback and observed behaviors.