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3 useful strategies for getting to know your target audience better

Most brands conduct thorough target audience research when they’re first starting out, but not as many brands regularly check in with their target audience to see if consumer preferences and motivations have changed.

Even if you’re a smaller company with fewer resources to dedicate to routine audience research, there are still plenty of easy ways to gain valuable feedback from your audience, which can then be used to fine-tune your marketing strategy, messaging and general interactions with potential followers and paying customers alike. Here are a few things you could implement within 24 hours:

Brief Feedback Surveys

Survey programs like Google Forms and Survey Monkey are incredibly useful for marketers who want to customize their own questions and acquire deeper insights about their target audience. Survey Monkey has free and paid versions available, but you shouldn’t need more than the basic free version to get the information you need from followers.

When creating a survey, keep it as short as possible. Include only the most essential questions, and use mostly multiple choice questions to minimize survey-taking fatigue among audience members who don’t want to type lengthy responses.

To encourage people to take your survey, post links to it on your social media pages and set a deadline so people feel a sense of urgency to complete it now rather than later. If you’re not getting the number of responses you’d like to see, consider giving away a gift card to one lucky survey participant as a fun incentive to rake in more responses.

Social Media Polls

You can create polls on Facebook, Instagram (through the Stories feature) and Twitter. These polls can be treasure troves of information for brands because intrigued, social-savvy and engaged followers will likely participate. Even if you get some negative responses from brand detractors, this information will help you discover problem areas you might not have known about otherwise.

One downside to these polls is that you can only ask one question at a time. You may get dozens of responses for one poll and only a handful of responses for another poll. This disparity can lead to skewed results, so be mindful of potential limitations of this audience research strategy.

Fill-in-the-Blank Social Media Contests

A final way to engage your audience members and learn more about them is giving them opportunities to be creative and express their thoughts and opinions. For instance, you could run a seasonal contest on Instagram with a post that encourages followers to finish the sentence, “My favorite part about the winter holidays is________.”

This type of contest offers the additional benefit of raking in user-generated content and word-of-mouth awareness for your brand. Offer a prize for followers who respond to your sentence with their own pictures and your branded hashtag in the caption.