Want to know your audience better? Try this test.

Warning: this content is older than 365 days. It may be out of date and no longer relevant.

When it comes to understanding your audience, few things provide as much insight as how your audience describe themselves. What are the words and phrases that they use to talk about themselves?

Social media provides this answer to us in the form of profile biographies. Whether LinkedIn profile, Twitter bios, etc., we can learn quite a bit about our audiences if we dig into their words.

Here’s a fun exercise to try. Using any common influence measurement tools such as Sysomos or Followerwonk, export the bios of your followers.

Next, group them by whatever metric you choose; influence score, number of followers, engagement rate, etc.

Feed their bios, their profiles, into any natural language processing software, from a simple word cloud maker like Tagxedo or Wordle, to sophisticated artificial intelligence programs. Whatever you’ve got on hand, feel free to use it.

Here’s an example of the top quintile of my followers:


Here’s an example of the middle quintile of my followers:


Now, compare. What is the difference between higher influence groups and lower influence groups? What is the difference between people with less than 1000 followers and more than 1000 followers? What is the difference between people with low engagement versus high engagement?

If you’re more quantatitively-minded, use any word frequency tool to break out the words by count:


What can we learn from this exercise? If our most authoritative, influential followers are aligned with our target business audience, great. If not, we may want to change our definition of who constitutes an influencer. In turn, that changes who we reach out to, who we create content for, and who shares our stuff.

You might also enjoy:

Want to read more like this from Christopher Penn? Get updates here:

subscribe to my newsletter here

AI for Marketers Book
Take my Generative AI for Marketers course!

Analytics for Marketers Discussion Group
Join my Analytics for Marketers Slack Group!


6 responses to “Want to know your audience better? Try this test.”

  1. Great advice Chris! Understanding your audience is one of the most important things any marketer can do.
    As I’m sure you’re aware, you can also plug your Twitter handle (or a clients) into our Sysomos MAP software in the “User Details” section to see all kinds of information about your account’s followers. From things like a word cloud made of the words in their bios, to their gender breakdown, authority scores and more. It’s one of my favourite features when trying to understand a company or influencer.

    Sheldon, community manager for Sysomos

    1. Yep – I use the User Details tab for the raw CSV export, but then I need the additional granularity that the built in tool doesn’t provide

  2. Chris, if only you provided content that was more helpful, more in-depth, more ‘outta the box’, maybe? You show potential, don’t get me wrong. Hang in there and just keep passing along your free DIY hacks, buddy.
    😉 #chrispennismysuperhero

      1. Omg, Chris, I’m just now seeing this. 🙁 It was supposed to be a funny, since you ARE one of the most helpful, technically in-depth, outta the box subj matter experts I believe I’ve come across. Obviously the humor didn’t translate – and I’d rather poke my eye out than have you think someone was complaining to you after you’d offered up a helpful article. Hopefully you’ll see this.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This