What is Audience Analysis?

Sergio Oliveri |
 02/23/23 |
8 min read

What is Audience Analysis

Social media analytics is made up of layers contributing to the greater whole. And one super critical layer is audience analysis.

Why is this specific layer so important? Well, you can’t take meaningful action if you don’t understand social conversations. And you can’t understand social conversations without understanding the people behind them. That’s where audience analysis comes in.

With a strong sense of the consumers that make up your target audience you can strategically impact every area of your business – from marketing to the unexpected (like R&D and innovation).

In this article we’ll peel back the layers within audience analysis and take a thorough look at what it is, how it works, and why it’s such a crucial component of social media analytics.

Why Audience Analysis?

The digital space is evolving at a faster pace and is becoming more crowded as companies and people take to digital airways. As a result, the importance of personalization and precise audience targeting has also increased.

It’s now vital to dial into the minutest of details to know who your brand should target, how (content/messaging), where (channels), when, and why. And all of this is aimed at engagement, which is just as crucial as reach these days as it aids in brand awareness and, ultimately, conversions. Our Key Metrics gives us a quick overview of KFC’s Mentions, Net Sentiment, Total Engagements and Potential Impressions. Any of these can be dissected for more detailed analysis.


The beauty of audience analysis using social listening tools is the speed with which you can perform such detailed evaluations. What took lots of time and effort in the past using old school focus groups and surveys, can now happen within moments or hours.

What Are You Actually Analyzing?

Audience analysis helps discover new audiences based in the information they share on social media, unlike surveys and polls – where you’re limited to a set of conclusions based on the specific questions asked of the consumer.

Some of the intel gathered using audience analysis may be demographic – like age or location – but the most rewarding insights is psychographic. It comes from knowing who they are underneath surface insight to uncover their interests, passions, or how they see the product or service your brand represents – and how it fits into their life.

This type of analysis leads you to create audience segments – or groups of consumers with shared passions. Imagine how much more authentic your messaging is when you’re talking to a group of “Gen-X pizza lovers who have Netflix watch parties in L.A.” versus “35-50-year-old men.”

Broader demographics are also useful, but they’re more of a stepping off point for getting to the good stuff. Like how a particular segment views your top competitors – and why.

The idea is to step beyond your brand and look at the interests of those engaging with your entire category, and what they care about – in relation to your brand and others like it, and then beyond that. And your social media listening tool should provide a way to separate these interests neatly into categories for easier exploration.

Here is an example in the category of Baking. Aside from Food and Drink, Family, Music and Pets take the largest share of common interests:


This is important intel that informs messaging and future potential campaigns – and even product development. It certainly helps brands understand what drives audiences to buy. Let’s dig into that part a bit more.

The Mechanics of Audience Analysis

You can apply audience analysis widely to better understand your category, products, services, even other brands – and all of this helps inform your next move. But what you’re really looking for is what drives your audience to buy. That starts with knowing what they care about, versus just making a wild guess.

And you can apply this type of social listening whether you’re looking for something specific to achieve a brand goal, or a combination of all factors to create an overall picture of your audience, or varying audience segments.

The key to all of it is social sentiment analysis and this factor can be applied to all other tactics. Sentiment analysis reveals your cheerleaders, and likewise, most determined detractors. This helps you assess the actions needed to accelerate your brand – and avoid sweeping changes for an audience that isn’t invested.

If you have a lot of passionate negative sentiment about customer service, for instance, you’ll want to focus your efforts on that direction. Or if you’re seeing a lot of negative conversation about competitors in your category, you know to make sure you keep up with offering stellar service, and even find ways to stand out amongst the crowd in your messaging.

Let’s look at an example. Here’s the sentiment graph when we search on the term “Gaming and eSports” in NetBase:


Overall sentiment is positive, and while those spikes of high positivity are important, perhaps more critical is what drives the negative sentiment.

Either way, exploring the Attributes word cloud gives us some insight into the various conversations happening, and those which have gained the most traction. Beautiful Gaming King PC is a positive sentiment which has quite a lot of traction. Clicking on it reveals what people are saying:


Social media analytics provides information revealing that a gaming chair and mouse are behind this sentiment.

But words are only part of the picture, remember to include image analysis as you explore sentiment – not all social conversation is text-based, so you want to be sure you know if your brand is being visually slammed.

And, of course, if there are images propelling you to the top of the positive end of the spectrum, you want to know that too – so you can share the most engaging content with your audience. It might seem a small thing, but Burger King’s Moldy Whopper is and example of a brand that turned a campaign on its head with a single, startling image.

Let’s break down other key considerations in audience analysis.


Using the topic you’re searching, narrow your results to view the location where the conversation is happening. Let’s see results for the gaming and eSport, our map shows that 51% of gaming conversations are happening in the US. For further details we could click on the country and see relative posts, even get as detailed as street level.


If you’re a gaming company such as Xbox, you want to have a sense of where your audience is and who they are. Social Listening helps you find out. Otherwise, your competitors will surely use the information to their advantage, because they’re undoubtedly searching for this insight too. It’s a race to see who does it best!


Next, look at gender and age to create a baseline for further analysis. Here’s the breakdown for Starbucks Coffee, filtered for English-language posts:


Their audience is comprised of mostly 25–34 and 18-24 year-olds – so millennials and Gen Z.  What could Starbucks do to attract those who fall into older age brackets? What do their consumers love or hate about Starbucks? And though all ages are talking about this caffeinated brand – it’s doubtful they’re all talking about the same thing.

Look for the specific topics of conversation broken out by age and use them to create more meaningful audience segments that speak to specific interests. You’ll likely cross gender and age lines – and that’s all the better. There are so many ways to approach this. Let’s look at another!


Let’s continue with Starbucks as we go deeper. We’ll look at Trends which offers you a look at popular Terms, Hashtags, People, Brands and Emojis. All of them reveal the ways your brand – or category – are being talked about on the social web:


For example, many other brands are tagged in conversations directed at Starbucks. Is it about Stocks and Trading? Is someone waiting at a GM car lot sipping on Starbucks while they finalize paperwork? If a company isn’t sure who else their consumers are talking about, they may be missing out on identifying big competitors. Are there surprises in the mix? Maybe. Are there potential partnership opportunities? Certainly. Further analysis will reveal more about how to engage their audience.

They already used their intel to look to Beyonce for partnership by placing her albums in their store. Given the attention she gets via her 164 million followers, she’s also an influencer. Double win.

Identify Common Interests

The next step of your audience analysis looking for segments of people with common interests. These could be entirely new audiences for you to engage with.

Vegan food, for example, is not just for Vegans. The world is not made up of only meat eaters and vegans. There are more and more flexitarians and vegan-curious consumers today. And that’s why savvy brands such as Mendocino Farms Sandwich Market are rolling out new menus full of vegan choices. They are reaching more segments with a common interest.

Identify Influencers

A big part of audience analysis is finding the people who love you most, just for being you. Or they love your category enough to fall in love with your brand if you can tap into what inspires that initial passion.

They might be celebrities or organic influencers who have a large and engaged following of their own. These brand fans wield enormous influence. If identified they can boost your company and amplify your messaging.

Part of audience analysis is understanding what motivates your audience to share. And with KFC, they realized that their consumers love audacious things, which lead to them making the mini movie Recipe for Seduction. But they didn’t stop there, they decided to make a game console with a warmer just for your fried chicken. And the crowd went wild:


These posts show very high engagement and potential impressions, illustrating how far a brand can reach if they have the right influencer carrying their message.

And what about detractors? You can make them a segment as well – people to include when you solve a similar problem, so they can see your efforts and perhaps change their minds about you. And oftentimes, they offer insight around unmet needs. That’s valuable intel.


It’s also important to understand how and where your audience wants to hear from you. If you’re on Twitter but your audience is all about Instagram, you’re missing your target.

And remember, the social web isn’t confined to Facebook, Twitter and the like. Be sure to look at blogs, news sites, review sites, forums, etc. Here are the various places talking about breakfast king IHOP right now. This is looking at all domains, but can be filtered to show just blogs, forums and even news sources.


There will always be surprises in the mix – like Reddit, perhaps – so never just assume. Look to your social data for answers.

Your Audience Makes Your Brand

Don’t stop at marketing once you’ve identified and targeted audience. Your customers and prospects are the reason you do everything you do – or they should be. You never have to go in blind again when conceiving a new product or wonder where the gaps are in your customer experience.

Your audience offers everything you need to proactively give them what they want, as well as the info required to solve problems when they occur. But you have to have the right social media analytics tool to hear them.

Use your audience analysis data throughout your business, and you’ll be unbeatable.

This has been part 7 of our Social Media Analytics Guide for 2021, designed to keep you in-the-know on the tools, metrics, and skills necessary to compete in an increasingly global arena.

Read the other parts of this comprehensive series by clicking below:

  1. What is Social Media Analytics and Why Is it Important?
  2. What Is Social Media Monitoring?
  3. What Is Social Campaign Analysis?
  4. What Is Social Sentiment Analysis?
  5. What Is Social Listening & Why Is It Important?
  6. What Is Image Analytics?
  7. What Is Audience Analysis?

Have you seen our audience analysis tools in action? We’re happy to show you – just get in touch!

Premier social media analytics platform

Expand your social platform with LexisNexis news media

Power of social analytics for your entire team

Media analytics and market intelligence platform

Enrich your media analytics with social data

Social media benchmarking
and competitive intelligence

Data streams & custom KPIs for advanced data science

AI, Image Analytics, Reporting Tools & more

Out-of-the-box integration with other data sources