LAST UPDATE: 6.22.2021 | Scroll down for the full list of the top social audience intelligence platforms & tools.
One thing to consider is that audience analysis is critical to the deployment of content marketing programs and will help identify white space in the market. This also includes influencer analytics during the research process.
I remember a time when social intelligence was the next big thing. Big brands were investing a lot of money using social media monitoring tools to listen to online conversations, specifically to people mentioning their company. Some were using social tools like BuzzMetrics to monitor “brand mentions” and “share of voice” over time. Then came the talk of the town, Radian6 which revolutionized social intelligence, brand engagement and audience analytics.
They used extremely complex Boolean searches to ensure they were getting the most relevant results possible. This approach would yield any mention of the keywords in the query within news articles, blogs, forums and social media-both negative and positive sentiment.
This is still important today, especially to get a better understanding of what I call the “market conversation” about a brand or a topic. There’s an additional way to uncover insights using audience analytics – actual people, your customers, prospects or whoever else you care about. This approach disregards the random people sharing articles without reading the headlines, anonymous people commenting on a Reddit post, and all the social media trolls.
The concept is simple. Build a social media audience first and then listen and monitor to just their conversations. I call it audience intelligence and it looks something like this:
Define and build the audience + listen to the audience = target the audience with creative content
- Define & build the audience: Using boolean logic, build an audience based on certain parameters such as bio search, content shared, followers of a hashtag or brand, or topical relevance.
- Listen to the audience: Listen to what’s top of mind for the audience to understand trending topics, media consumption or what’s keeping them up at night.
- Target the audience: Turn on the content engine and produce creative content in real-time and promote with highly targeted paid media.
Audience intelligence can be used for general consumer research or building an audience persona. Several audience insights can be gained from these types of analyses to include: what keywords they use the most (topical relevance); what media publications they are reading and sharing (media consumption); what channels they prefer to use and why (channel preferences), and their interests and characteristics that make them unique from everyone else (e.g., they audience might prefer using Spotify versus Pandora).
I get asked all the time how to build these audiences and there are several ways to do it. I put together this guide for audience and influencer analytics which breaks down the entire process. You can also read the below summaries of the social and audience intelligence platforms and audience analysis software and tools that I use today or have used in the past.
I have been using Audiense for several years now. Their audience analytics platform provides superior social media audience segmentation tools for analyzing audiences to better understand interests, characteristics, media consumption and the basic demographics. They have also integrated Personality Insights powered by IBM Watson in order to discover the personality of specific audiences and Buying and Online habits that can uncover the purchasing influence factors, consumer behavior and online habits of the audience. They have two different audience products–Audiense Insights and Audiense Connect–which compliment one another in different ways. A powerful feature of the platform is the audience segmentation and the ability to drill down on each segment. You can watch my video review on G2.
I am pleasantly surprised with Brandwatch’s audience intelligence platform. It’s fast and very easy to use. You can build audiences using a variety of filters and variables to include: bio, content, followers of certain accounts, interests, location and several others. What makes this platform even better is the ability to migrate audiences into Brandwatch Consumer Research (BCR). From there, you can listen to audience conversations for real-time listening and content engagement. They have one of the most innovative audience intelligence platforms in the market.
Many consider Onalytica to be a tool primarily for building an influencer program for B2B and tech companies. I find it to be much more than that. They have an advanced search functionality that combines laser focused boolean search for both bios and content shared. What makes them unique is that they only yield results for those who have published or shared content within the last 180 days. Their ranking algorithm and influencer analytics is second to none and the best in market. Once you identify your audience, you can export them into a CSV file but it doesn’t stop there. You can then upload them into their IRM-Influencer Relationship Management tool for further analysis. The only disadvantage with the IRM is that you have to know what exactly it is that you are looking for. You can search for keywords, topics, brands, etc. and the output is a dashboard showing you various data points like share of conversation, brand mentions, etc.
There are several ways to build audiences using Buzzsumo. Their core product is all about content analysis based on a search query. For example, if I searched for “Artificial Intelligence” the platform would display every article with “Artificial Intelligence” in the headline. It would also show me how many shares each article received on Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, etc. You can “view sharers” of each article and export the Twitter handles. They also have an influencer search based on bio terms and lists. So, if you are targeting “accountants” the results will show you users who have “accountant” in their bio and/or are a part of a Twitter list with the word “accountant” in it. Think of the Twitter lists as an audience crowdsourced by the community. There is no further analysis once the audience is identified, unfortunately so exporting is the only option.
People Pattern an audience analysis software, almost like a Google Search for audience analytics. They have a database of several million Twitter users that will allow you to build audiences based on a bio search for keywords, basic demographics, geography, etc. They also allow for uploading Twitter handles and/or IDs as well.
Their audience segmentation software clusters the audiences into pre-identified segments/personas and will break down the data into various topics like news, media, sports, entertainment, and technology. The only issue is that People Pattern pulls in spam accounts or Twitter handles that haven’t been used in years, making some of the data questionable. Also, they only pull in the last 200 pieces of content shared by each audience member which could be problematic if certain audiences aren’t that active.
In full transparency, I have never fully used Spredfast’s Social Media Audience Intelligence platforms. I have dabbled in it for a few hours and participated in a few demos over the last few years but it’s not the same as getting my hands dirty in the technology. I am not sure what it can and can’t do as it relates to finding, building and monitoring audiences in real-time but in looking at their capabilities on their website it seems fairly sophisticated. As it relates to social media marketing management and customer care, the product is second to none and highly recommend it for enterprise companies. I can’t say they have the best social media audience segmentation tools, but the rest of their suite of services is very good.
I have used DemographicsPro for years and it continues to deliver. It hasn’t changed much since then and still looks like Craigs List but it’s still a platform to consider as a part of your tech stack. You can analyze several different audiences like followers of a brand, hashtag usage and you can also upload a CSV file of Twitter handles. The results allow you to see what topics and affinities (media, specific journalists, sports teams, technologies, blogs, etc.) your audience over-indexes on when compared to the general population. The higher the index, the more unique the audience. The only disadvantage is the UI. It’s hard to learn it but once you know it, it’s gold.
I have not used this social media audience software but I did see an hour-long demo and I was pretty impressed. Wiland maps billions of consumer relationships and interests across social media, and ties it to individual-level offline data such as demographics, purchase data, buying styles, automotive ownership, geography, occupation, financial data, and brand affinities. They use artificial intelligence to compare that group to a general index in order to learn what is unique about the audience. What’s really unique is that the audiences can be sent to any digital marketing platform programmatically for targeting purposes.
Affinio has pretty advanced audience segmentation tools on the market. You can build audiences a variety of different ways. You can find people who are connected by what they follow, where they live, or how they self-describe; or what they are saying on social media using advanced boolean or specific URL sharers. You can also upload audiences from a CSV file. Once the audience is built is where the real power kicks in. Affinio clusters the audience into smaller groups, allowing for further, deep-dive analysis on each audience – brands they follow, celebrities they like, where they shop, who they mention the most, which hashtags they use, what they read and the list goes on. The UI is easy to use for marketers of all skill levels.
The only issue I have is that the clustered audiences are pre-defined but I can say that they have one of the strongest social media analytics platforms on the market.
Their audience analysis tools overlay detailed interest graph data onto an existing social media audience to better understand their interests, including media preferences, brand affinities, and what drives them. I tested this platform early in 2020, but it took me a long time to understand the mechanics of how it works. This tells me that the UI and workflow is more complicated than the others. I am a power user in most technology software programs and can catch on pretty quickly, but I had to get support from their sales team to learn how to build audiences. That said, I’ve heard some really good things from a few industry colleagues who use the platform. As the case with most new technology, the best way to learn it is by repetition.
I have participated in a few demos over the years but have not used the platform. They released a report a few weeks ago analyzing the personality traits of employees who work for technology companies like Amazon, Apple, Google and Microsoft. I assume they built their social media audience segmentation through Bio search for those who self identify as working for those companies. I’m not entirely sure. For those interested in seeing live reports, they do you have a portion of their site where they offer sample reports. Here is one analyzing the American Express “tribe”.In looking at the American Express report, I was impressed on how they cluster sub audiences or personas.
First let me say that I am a huge fan of their social intelligence platform. Outside of the data limitations, I would say that it’s one of the best on the market especially if you supporting traditional media reporting and coverage coverage in addition to social analytics. I’m also a fan of how you can build influencer audiences and manage engagement, and track progress with influencers directly in the platform. The Synthesio Profiler is one of the more interesting audience intelligence platforms. I was able to watch a webinar which talks about audience intelligence and also gives a demo of the platform. The functionality mirrors a lot of the other platforms but I do think the UI is clean and simple to use. I’m a little unsure of where the data comes from. In the webinar, they talk about Facebook business manager but I’m still unclear of the data source.
I have known about Sparktoro since the beginning of 2020. I have purposely ignored it for a variety of reasons. Whenever a new social media audience intelligence platforms come to market, I have a tendency of spending way too much time trying to learn it and understand how it may be different than the other platforms I have used in the past. That said, I did give their Premium Plan a try for one month. The first thing that I noticed is how easy it is to run a report. Once you plug in your search parameters, you scroll down to see audience insights, what they read, watch, listen to and who they follow. You can drill down in each of these areas to explore more of the results if you have a paid plan. With the paid plan, you can also export the data into Excel and/or into a PDF document. I think I might try one month of a paid plan to drill down a little bit more into the functionality. But on the surface, this would be a great tool for someone just learning how to use audience intelligence, especially if you don’t have a lot of experience with data analytics.
I was initially excited to test out their custom audiences. The instructions say that you can upload LinkedIn and/or Instagram handles and they match those handles with a Twitter handle. I tried uploading 500 unique LinkedIn URL’s and got no matches. I did the same with 5000 Instagram handles with no matches.
I just started using Trufan and I am really excited about a few of their features and the potential it has to differentiate itself from other social media audience platforms. With all of the platforms mentioned above, the number one data source is Twitter. And while Trufan does allow you to pull and segment Twitter data, it also gives you the same option with Instagram, with some limitations. It doesn’t pull data directly from Instagram but leverages data that was already uploaded and analyzed by existing/previous customers. What excites me is how they allow you to segment Instagram audiences by various filters. My favorite is combining bio search terms and content shared.
Here’s an audience analysis example I recently did on an engineering audience. There are others below in case you are interested.
- Audience analysis of the Data Scientist Audience in 2020
- Why Multi-Segment Audience Intelligence Crushes all Social Metrics [VIDEO]
- Audience analysis people talking about content collaboration software
- Audience analysis of the Top 50 Journalists Followed by CEOs
- Audience analysis of a software developer audience
- An influencer analysis of people talking about blockchain & IT security
- Media analysis Blockchain & Artificial Intelligence Coverage Analysis
- Audience analysis of IT decision makers