Who is Your Social Media Audience? Really, Who Is It?


I am actually askisocial media audienceng the question – who is your social media audience? And I’m asking because I don’t know.  Yes, it is important to identify your audience, to speak to them and to actively engage with them.  Doing so is vitality important to having your message heard and your brand promoted.  But as I was doing just this (identifying my audience) I stopped, and paused, and got stuck.  Let me explain.

The Social Media Audience

This is how I have come to understand the social media audience.  Your social media audience has different categories of people who engage and interact with you differently.

  •  At the very top, are your Relationships.  These are personal connections, who you have a meaningful, emotional connection with.  They could be personal friends or even family who use social media.  You communicate with them frequently.
  •  At the next level are Evangelists. These are the people who engage with you, who highly and often recommend you, and who you have on-going interactions with.  They are the super fans of you and your brand.
  • social media audienceThen there are these people.  These people have an interest in you and you have an interest in them.  But they don’t have that emotional bond you share with your relationships. And they are not an evangelist, cause they are not really super fans. They are more than a connection. They are something different. Who are they?
  • At the next level are Connections. These are the people who follow you and who you follow. Who you have established some kind of connection with and who you sometimes engage with.
  • Next, Acquaintances. These are people you know and have at some point engaged with, but infrequently and there is no real meaningful relationship between you.
  • Finally, there are your Followers.  Followers have some kind of interest in you, but have not interacted with you beyond a watchful, passive presence. Followers at any time may become acquaintances, or evangelists or even relationships once they start engaging and interacting with you more.

One other thing.  I use the term ‘audience’ throughout this post for simplicity sake, but I think its important to note that there is a difference between your audience and your community.  Your ‘community’ is your top level engagers – your relationships, evangelists and your ‘who are these people’.  Where as your audience would refer more to the bottom 3 categories, who have a more silent, watchful connection with you.  They act more like the audience of a broadway show – interested, and watching, but not interacting with the actors. 

The third-level of engagement

But now back to this third-level of audience.  I think this is an important group to define because this is a highly engaged group who are very important to maintaining interaction within your community and sharing your content.  These people interact with you, they respond to your calls to action and you are able to have 1-on-1 conversations with them.

We all have these audience members. People who we have built a relationship with via social media.  With these people, you have established a close, almost friendship with, but its not a relationship.  And their interactions with you a definitely different than an evangelists.

Think about your audience, who are ‘these people’ that fall between connections and evangelists, and what do you call them? 

Really, I’d like to know. Please leave a comment below, and share with your community!

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  • Hey Paulina-

    This is a neat piece & it does help a bit- especially to assign personas to each of the categories that I am trying to define in this post. I think each of these persona's would appear within the categories I am trying to define- for instance, your 'Connections' level may have members who match the traits of a 'Spark' and others who match the persona of a 'New Comer'. Similarly, I would expect most members of your 'Evangelist' level to display persona traits of 'Sparks' but there may also be some 'Mix n' Minglers' in there as well. So this does help to define the individual behaviour of members within each category. Thanks!

  • Hi Kelly,
    Further to your article, i have been doing some serious online search in order to find an answer to your dilemma.
    And i think i found a pretty close solution to your problem with audience evaluation. The article i found was published last year, by SocialMediaToday and it seems pretty interesting. In short, Pam who wrote an article has presented the audience as social media users. There are 6 types of them (similar number to your evaluation). In below you can see how she presents it:

    No Shows (41%): No Shows haven’t logged on to a social network in the last 30 days. Most likely a 65-plus male, they typically exhibit low degrees of trust and have no interest in broadcasting their activities or interests to anyone.

    Newcomers (15%): Newcomers are typical passive users of a single social media network. They may reluctantly join Facebook, for example, in order not to feel “left behind”. Newcomers primarily use social media to enhance their online relationships.

    Onlookers (16%): Onlookers may lurk on several social media networks, but they post infrequently. They rely on social media primarily to keep up on the online lives of others within their social networks, but are reluctant to share details about themselves. Onlookers want complete control of their online information.

    Cliquers (6%): Cliquers are active, single-network users who congregate primarily on Facebook. They’re most likely to be women, and most of their online sharing includes photos, status updates, and comments. They’re active and influential within their small network of close friends and family.

    Mix-n-Minglers (19%): Mix-n-Minglers participate actively on multiple social networking platforms. They like to follow brands in order to receive offers and keep up with the latest news. They also understand the importance of data privacy. They meet many of their friends online and they’re influential in their networks.

    Sparks (3%): Sparks are the most active and deeply engaged users of social media. They use social media tools as a means of self-expression. While Sparks are still concerned about online privacy, they work to control the online conversation. Sparks typically boast the most open social networks amongst the six personas. They engage with brands frequently, and are enthusiastic ambassadors for their favorites.

    If you guys want to read more, the article is here <a href="http://socialmediatoday.com/pamdyer/564409/6-types-social-media-users. I like the comparisons and examples. Good read :)

  • Hmm, I do agree with your point that all personal relationships do not necessarily form your inner circle or community- of course you will have personal relationships which do not transpire online as well- however to your point of defining the audience into two broad categories…I'm unsure. I think it is important to more specifically define these groups, the more you understand them and more clearly have defined your interaction with them, the better. I would be hesitant to say a relationship which I have formed with someone purely via social media, but one that is maintained almost every day with frequent communication and interaction, would be classified equally in 'community' with audience members with whom I have never spoke.

  • There's a clear distinction between people you know personally and those held together by common interest. Interpersonal relationships that are pre-established are more personal but not necessarily your best advocates/followers. It's often people who you don't personally know but share common interests with who evolve to make your community. So I see a bit of an overlap here, especially from a business perspective. Eg. your wife would feature in the first category but she may have little interaction with you online, so all your personal relationships don't necessarily form you inner circle or ''community'' as you term it. I'd divide it into two broad categories – social media and communities. Your social media has a network structure where people know each other and you know them personally whereas your community is made up of people, some of whom may know you personally, but with little connection with with most people in the community. Would you agree?

  • They are people I know by name, and with whom I gradually expand my relationship with through different platforms. Each platform let me get to know an additional side of the person.

    One example is my Twitter-friend Randy Bowden (@bowden2bowden). We started out as followers when I was new to Twitter. We had common interests in marketing and social media and started to comment on each others blogs. I also connected with Randy's wife on Twitter. After building on this relationship for a while, Randy recommended me to SteamFeed.com, where I'm now one of the authors. We're also connected on Facebook and FourSquare. (Why not LinkedIn? Have to check on that!) Today I listened to web-radio by @GettysburgGerry, and he was interviewing Randy. By their conversation I learned more about Randy's background and career in social media marketing. I was able to hear his voice and got to know his sense of humor. Despite the fact I never have met Randy face to face or spoken to him, he's a real, multi-faceted person to me today – thanks to social media.

    Thanks Kelly for writing this! I still don't know what to call "these people", but I know they play an important role in our lives. The web is like a huge neighbourhood. We bump into each other now and then, share a laugh or chat for a while, provide each other with valuable information about mutual interests and gossip about the community troll. High and low – forming a relationship.

    • Exactly Anna! Perfect example! Just like you and Randy, I have these connections which I do not know how to define, and frankly had not thought too hard about until Daniel Hebert and I sat down to try to define our audience. In doing that, we started to talk about these people and neither one of us could find a word or term which accurately described that relationship. I kid you not, this was a 4 hour discussion before we finally decided to walk away and throw it to our community for help lol! Thank you for comment- yours and Randy’s relationship is exactly the kind I want to define and the example really helps!

    • Thanks Anna, very kind of you to share these kind words. I value the relationship we have developed and feel the same as you, with evey read of your work I gain a greater understanding of Anna. We must get you on Gerry's show so I can place that voice with the eye patch! Maybe an G+ hngout?

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