Social Media

10 Free Tools to Help You Understand Your Social Media Audience

It's important to craft your social media posts according to your audience.
10 Free Tools to Help You Understand Your Social Media Audience
Image credit: via Buffer
Community and Marketing at Buffer
12 min read
This story originally appeared on Buffer

We often recommend crafting your social media posts according to your audience.

But how do you know who the individuals that make up your social media audience are? And how do you know what content they like?

Answering these two questions is essential if you’re looking to execute a successful social media strategy. And often, you’ll find the answers by turning to data and social media analytics.

Related: Never Run Out of Content: More than 70 Places to Curate Great Content

In this post, I’ll share a few ways of using data to find out more about your social media audience across the major social media platforms -- Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest.

How to learn about your social media audience on the major social media platforms

Here’s an overview of the tools that you can use to help you understand who your followers are. Feel free to click on any of the social media platforms to skip to its section.

Facebook: Audience Insights, Page Insights and graph search

Instagram: Instagram Insights and SocialRank

Twitter: Twitter analytics, Followerwonk and SocialRank

LinkedIn: Linkedin analytics

Pinterest: Pinterest analytics

Facebook

Audience Insights: Demographics, Page Likes and more

The most powerful tool to help you understand your Facebook Page fans is hidden within the Facebook Ads Manager: Audience Insights.

Here’s how to access your Audience Insights:

  1. Click on the dropdown menu in the upper-right corner of any Facebook page
  2. Select “Manage Ads”
  3. Click on the “Facebook Ads” menu
  4. Select “Audience Insights” (you might have to hover over “All Tools”)

Or you could access it via this direct link: https://www.facebook.com/ads/audience-insights.

Once you’re at your Audience Insights, select “People connected to your Page and enter your Page name under Connections > Pages.

Facebook might have, by default, selected “All United States” under “Location." If you want a global view of your Facebook Page fans, hover over “All United States” and click on the cross.

Now, let’s find out who your Facebook Pages fans are!

Under the “Demographics” tab, you can get the following information:

  • Age and gender distribution
  • Lifestyle
  • Relationship status
  • Education level
  • Job title

Under the “Page Likes” tab, you can get the following information:

  • Top categories that your fans might like
  • Pages that your fans might like

Under the “Locations” tab, you can get the following information:

  • Top cities
  • Top countries
  • Top languages

Here’s the other information you can dig into:

  • Activity -- as in Facebook activities and their device usage
  • Household -- as in household size, income, etc.
  • Purchase -- as in purchase behavior

Household and purchase information is only available for audiences in the U.S. currently.

You can get a good understanding of your Facebook fans from all this information. For example, here’s what I found about Buffer’s Facebook Page fans:

  • In terms of age, the biggest group (45 percent) is people between 25 to 34.
  • We have slightly more male (57 percent) than female fans (43 percent).
  • Most of them work in “Management," “Sales," “Arts, Entertainment, Sports and Media."
  • They also like software and internet companies like Hootsuite, MailChimp and Social Media Examiner.
  • In terms of location, the biggest group is people in the U.S. (31 percent), followed by people in the U.K. (9 percent).

What did you find about your Facebook fans?

Page Insights: When your fans are online

Besides knowing your Facebook fans’ demographics, interests and locations, you can also find out when they are using Facebook in a typical week and day.

In your Page Insights, under the “Post” tab, you have a section called “When Your Fans Are Online." (It should like the screenshot above.)

Under the section, “Days," you’ll see how many of your fans are active on Facebook on a given day. Under the section, “Times," you’ll see how many of your fans are active on Facebook during each hour on a typical day. This is a great way to find your best times to post.

Most of our fans seem to be on Facebook every day of the week. On a typical day, they tend to be most active between 12 p.m. and 9 p.m. EDT. How about your fans?

Graph Search: Other Pages that your fans Like

While Audience Insights tells you the Pages your fans might like, Facebook’s Graph Search can tell you the Pages they have Liked.

To do this, type “pages like by people who like (your Page name)” on the search bar at the top of any Facebook page.

In the results, there’ll be a section, “Pages liked by people who like (your Page name)." As the section title suggests, those are the Pages like by your Facebook Page fans. One thing to note is that the results seem to prioritize your friends. So essentially, these are Pages liked by your friends who also Liked your Facebook Page.

So what do you know about your Facebook Page fans now?

Instagram

Instagram Insights: Demographics, location and more

With a business profile on Instagram, the best way to learn about your followers is through Instagram Insights -- Instagram’s free native analytics. (If you don’t have a business profile and want to convert, here’s how. If you don’t want to convert, read the next section.)

Here’s how to access your followers’ information in Instagram Insights:

  1. Tap on your profile photo in the lower-right corner of the mobile app
  2. Tap on the analytics button (the chart icon)
  3. Scroll down to the “Followers” section and tap on “See more”

Related: What to Post on Each Social Media Platform: The Complete Guide to Optimizing Your Social Content

Here’s the information about your Instagram followers that you can get from your Instagram Insights:

  • Gender distribution
  • Age range distribution (men and women)
  • Top locations (cities and countries)
  • Times and days when your followers are most active

Tip: If you tap on the bar charts for age range and location, the percentages will be revealed.

Our Instagram followers are quite similar to our Facebook Page fans.

  • We have slightly more male (52 percent) than female followers (48 percent).
  • In terms of age, the biggest group (45 percent) is people between 25 to 34.
  • In terms of location, the biggest group is people in the U.S. (38 percent), followed by people in the U.K. (8 percent).
  • They are most active on Tuesday and Wednesday on a typical week and between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. for most days.

How does this compare to your Instagram followers?

The follower information in Instagram Insights doesn’t tell you your followers’ interests. A way to figure this out is to look at your top posts. In the third step above, instead of tapping on “See more” in the “Followers” section, tap on “See more” in the “Posts” section.

Here, you’ll find your top posts by impressions -- the total number of times that each post has been seen. I would recommend filtering your top posts by engagement, instead, to find out which types of posts your followers like to engage with. To change the filter, tap on “Impressions” at the top and select “Engagement."

Sometimes, it might not be immediately obvious which type of posts your followers like. In such cases, you could make hypotheses, test a few types of posts and see what works.

Social Rank: Interests, activity and more

If you don’t have a business profile on Instagram or prefer not to convert, you could use free Instagram tools like Social Rank.

Once you have connected your Instagram account to Social Rank, click on “Show Summary” in the top-center of the page. Here, Social Rank will show you the many different information about your followers, such as the following:

  • Gender distribution
  • Top followers locations
  • Popular bio words
  • Popular hashtags
  • Popular time to post
  • Followers distribution (how many followers your audience has)

The information under “Popular bio words” and “Popular hashtags” might reveal the interests, job title or industry of your Instagram followers. For example, our Instagram followers like to use words like “marketing," “social” and “media” in their bio, which is what our ideal audience does -- social media marketing.

The “Popular time to post” section shows you the times your followers are posting, which is when they are online and when it might be best for you to post.

You could also make some inferences about your followers by looking at your most engaged followers. To do that, sort your followers by “Most Engaged." Social Rank will show you the followers that have interacted with you the most in the past 45 days. Click on the top 20 to 30 profiles and check out their bio and websites. Are there any similarities?

Twitter

Twitter analytics: Interests, demographics and more

The native Twitter analytics provides comprehensive information about your Twitter audiences -- your followers, your organic audience and your tailored audiences.

Here’s how to access this information:

  1. Click on your profile photo in the upper-right corner of any Twitter page
  2. Select “Analytics”
  3. Click on “Audiences” in the top navigation bar

Here are some of the key information you can get from the various tabs (e.g. “Overview," “Demographics," etc.):

  • Interests
  • Gender and age distribution
  • Country
  • Occupation
  • Household income categories
  • Consumer buying styles

Here’s what I found about Buffer’s Twitter followers (again, they are quite similar to our Facebook fans and Instagram followers):

  • We have slightly more male (56 percent) than female followers (44 percent).
  • In terms of age, the biggest group (54 percent) is people between 25 to 34.
  • In terms of location, the biggest group is people in the U.S. (36 percent), followed by people in the U.K. (12 percent).
  • They are mostly interested in “Business and News," “Technology" and “Tech News."

What about your Twitter followers?

Followerwonk: Job title, activity and more

Followerwonk is a great Twitter tool that provides a bit more information than Twitter analytics. And it’s free for analysis of accounts with up to 25,000 followers.

To analyze your Twitter follower base, type in your Twitter handle and select “analyze their followers."

Here are some of the useful information about your followers that you can get:

  • Locations
  • Most active hours
  • Word cloud of their bios
  • Gender

Tip: Followerwonk integrates with Buffer so that you can easily create a schedule based on when your Twitter followers are most active.

Social Rank: Interests, activity and more

Social Rank can also be used for Twitter, and it provides similar information as it would for Instagram.

For example, here are the popular words and hashtags used in our Twitter followers’ bio and posts respectively (they are similar to those of our Instagram followers):

LinkedIn

LinkedIn analytics: Job titles, locations and more

The LinkedIn Company Page analytics provides a good amount of information to help you define your LinkedIn followers (and visitors).

Here’s how to access your LinkedIn follower information:

  1. Click on “Manage Page” on your Company Page
  2. Click on “Analytics” on the top navigation bar
  3. Select “Followers”

The LinkedIn analytics offers seven types of demographic data about your followers:

  • Country
  • Region
  • Job function
  • Seniority
  • Industry
  • Company size
  • Employment status

I find it helpful to look at the job function and industry data to get a sense of who our followers are. From our data, it seems that most of our LinkedIn followers are marketers and founders in the digital space.

You can find similar information about your visitors -- people who aren’t following your Company Page and have visited your Company Page. Instead of selecting “Followers” in the dropdown menu, select “Visitors."

What does your data tell you about your LinkedIn followers and visitors?

Pinterest

Pinterest analytics: Demographics, interests and more

If you have a business account on Pinterest, the best way to understand who your Pinterest followers are is to use Pinterest analytics. (You can set up your Pinterest business account here.)

Here’s how to access your follower information in Pinterest analytics:

  1. Click on “Analytics” in the upper-left corner of any Pinterest page
  2. Select “People you reach”
  3. On the right side of the page, click on “All audiences”
  4. Switch to “Your followers”

Or you could access it via this direct link: https://analytics.pinterest.com/audience/.

Here’s the various helpful information you can get:

  • Audience size
  • Country and metro
  • Language
  • Gender
  • Interests
  • Boards (Boards by your followers with many of your Pins)
  • Brands (Businesses your followers follows and engage with)

Related: An Updated List of Facebook's Algorithm Changes

Our Pinterest follower base is slightly different from our follower base on the other major social media platforms. Perhaps because of the demographics on Pinterest.

  • We have more female (74 percent) than male fans (21 percent). (Five percent unspecified.)
  • In terms of location, the biggest group is people in the U.S., followed by people in India.
  • They are mostly interested in “Technology," “Design” and “Travel."

How does your Pinterest follower base look like?

What do you know about your social media audience?

Understanding who your social media audience is can help you craft the right content for them, boost your engagement and increase your reach. And by using the amazing social media tools around, you can learn so much about your followers -- for free.

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