Market: Perception vs Reality

Who is your real audience and what content and campaigns do they react most powerfully to?

Market analysis allows us to see who your real audience is, where they hang out online, and what makes them laugh, rage, share and take action. It also helps us to clarify your "real" audience (versus your perceived one) and identify potential new audiences. Clearly, market research is incredibly important. So, why is it that some organizations miss their targets when it comes to engaging audiences? Over my years in online content creation, I've noticed some really simple misconceptions that audience and market research can help clarify.

1. You may not be your audience

First, it's important to recognize that you may not be your audience. What you like, where you hang out online, what you find funny or compelling... or disturbing... may not resonate with your organization's target audience.

When you create a campaign, videos, designs, even branding, it's really important to let your personal sense of aesthetics or humor, your political leaning or moral code take a back seat to what you find your actual audience engages with. And if it differs too greatly from your sense of what you are projecting online, it may be time to reevaluate what your brand is actually conveying to people and start playing to your actual audience. Or you may want to adjust your brand story so that your target audience shifts to individuals you actually want to engage with.

It is really important, especially if you are established, to research who it is that's engaging with your content, or engaging with other competitive online content that you want to create or emulate.

2. What you think may not be what the data reveals

Be prepared to discover that your perceived audience and your actual audience may not, in fact, be the same people. This is especially true of new businesses or organizations. It may be that you do not have any significant data to pull from to show you who is actually interested in your cause, product, or services, and you may be surprised to find out that your interest group is not the one you thought you would have... or the one you initially are starting out with due to other factors, such as demographics or that you pulled from your personal audience base for business initially. This is where good competitor research can really elevate your organization.

3. Use the right tools

It's really valuable to see what tools people are using to gather their data. Implement them yourself or hire a professional, even if it has to be part time at first, to set up your analytics tools for you. Do this early so you can follow patterns, such as times during the day or even months in which your audience tends to be more engaged. This will help you know when and how much to reach out to your audience and even what times in the year are more lucrative for running campaigns.