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Published October 1st 2014

How To Use Social Media To Research Your Next Customers

Would you benefit from knowing what your prospective customers are saying in their day-to-day lives?
As the web becomes more and more social, companies need to easily navigate this brave new world. A world that’s dominated by youths in hoodies & hash tag chats in lieu of smart tailored suits & corporate networking events.

A well thought out social media strategy can literally catapult your business to the upper echelons of financial success. We’ve seen how Dropbox (now valued at over $10 Billion) used social media as a way to encourage prospects to share their service with their nearest and dearest in return for a chunk of free cloud storage.

Social media sparked the beginning of the 3rd industrial revolution and now your voice can be heard by anyone, where as in the past your message was controlled by media gatekeepers and multi-million pound budgets.

One of the most valuable uses of social media has to be the ability to research your target audience. You can learn so much just from analyzing their movements across several different social media platforms.
Learning about your customers has never been easier
There’s a funny thing that happens when people chat on social media. They promote everything that they love and hate in life to everyone that will listen.

It’s almost bizarre.

People say things that they would never randomly shout out in front of their friends, but on social media it all seems okay.

This is an amazing thing for marketers. Whilst your most desired customers are out there shouting about their deepest loves, you can analyse and scrutinise all of that data to create an actionable plan of how best to market our products or services to them.

So how do you do it?

Aims:

• Have a system for gathering and analysing content that your competitors are publishing.
• A list of sites, likely to link to you.
• Gather an understanding of what content you should be producing.

Tools we’ll be using:

• Buzzsumo
• Followerwonk
• Excel

Overview:

Finding influential people within your industry and encouraging them to share your content is one of the most effective ways to put yourself in front of the eyes and ears of your next customers.

Buzzsumo is an incredible tool for doing just that.

Let me show you how.

Buzzsumo’s new features have made it even easier to find and research your industry’s most prevalent influencers.

Firstly log into Buzzsumo and click “influencers”.

Then, type in the your industry or corresponding ones. This could be anything from digital marketing to finance and beyond.

For example – enter “inbound marketing” and hit Search. You could change this to just about anything, but remember if you want a specific phrase like “inbound marketing”, surround it with quotation marks.

Buzzsumo then fires out a list of influencers for Inbound Marketing.

This is great, but you can do so much more. Lets refine this search to give us some more actionable results.

Down the left hand side you will see some pretty nifty filtering options. This includes bloggers, influencers, companies, journalists and regular people.

Your goal here is to encourage influencers to promote your content.

Simply uncheck all boxes apart from “bloggers” & “influencers”.

Once you’ve done that you can either search or you can further refine it by changing the locational search field as well. For this exercise I changed it to UK.

We now have a short list of influencers within the Inbound Marketing industry based in the UK.

This is where Buzzsumo gets really awesome.

You can then work out what content appeals to your influencers by applying some simple scraping tactics. Click on the “View Links Shared” button and this will bring up a fresh window:

Using this brilliant Google Chrome plugin you can export a list of links and the URL’s to Google Sheets.

To get nice neat results, I had to have a play around with the xPath. Instructions below.

//tr[*]/td[1]/div/a[1]

And I now have a list of the links and the URLs in Google Sheets:

I then copied all of the link column and input it into Wordle which gave me a word cloud containing the content interests of my influencer:

I would recommend keeping profiles of all of your influencers from this point forward. This level of information will be so valuable to more than just your marketing department – imagine what product development could gain from this!

Now, there is one last thing I want to show that Buzzsumo has made very easy to execute.

Click “View Links Shared” – amazing right?

You can literally see all of the people that have shared a piece of content. This is an outreach manager’s dream because you have before you a list of people who have shared super relevant content to your brand and of course your new fresh shiny piece of content.

This can also be very useful when deciding exactly what content you should be producing.

Then use the blue “Export” button and get that information into Excel.

Copy and paste the “bio” column into Wordle again.

Does this word cloud match what your perfect customer has an interest in?

How many of these other sharers of this content were sent to the URL by our influencer Tweeting this link?

This is only the tip of iceberg for the amount of trustworthy, reliable and actionable data that is available from Buzzsumo.

Once you have this information, your job as a marketer will become so much easier. It wasn’t all that long ago that the only guide you had when planning your content strategy, was an unreliable customer focus group held intermittently across a few major cities.

Data is today’s marketer’s best friend. The way PR and Advertising traditionally ranked the power of its audience was always been inherently flawed and is now thankfully almost defunct.

Now we have the ability to measure everything and anything, there are no longer excuses for shoddy reporting and the same goes for analyzing our prospective customers.

My advice to you would be gather information on your audience and prospective customers at regular points in time. That way you can create an extensive report you can refer back to whilst planning your next piece of content, social media campaigns or even offline out of home media.

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