Getting to know your audience inside-out is the first step to producing content that flies. So before a word is written or a campaign logo is designed, be clear who you want to read, watch or engage with what you're producing.
Use these six questions to help you sharpen your audience focus.
1. Who exactly is your audience?
Find out what you can about their age demographic, lifestyle, where they live and what's important to them. This will help you hone your messaging and identify the platforms you should be using.
At Thrive, we're continually asking ourselves these questions as content producers for BabyCentre UK. Most new parents are in their 20s and 30s – they're nervous, excited and hungry for information they can trust. And we work hard to craft content that meets their needs, in terms of both what we write and how we share it.
2. How do they access information?
Dig into your audience's preferred way to receive advice and information, and the best ways to reach them. Depending on lots of factors including their age, it could be social channels like Facebook and Instagram or it could be SMS messages and even print media. Part of planning content is researching your market's consumption habits and finding out what works for them.
3. Why are they reading or viewing your content?
Learn about your audience's motivations and online behaviours. Do they come to you through search or through the messages you push out to them? Whatever their route, make sure your content is delivering what they expect, so you can convert them into regular users who share what they find.
4. How do they communicate?
Understand how your audience talks. A campaign targeting students shouldn't have a formal tone of voice, but one aimed at a professional community probably should. But assume nothing. An approach you think works for a certain group may actually fall flat, so always road test your language before you launch it.
5. Where do they hang out?
You know how your audience communicates and where they get essential information, but where do they go to find inspiration online and share updates with their communities? And when? Plan multi-layered social media promotion customised to your audience's habits, so you can target as many of them as possible. For BabyCentre UK, this means using Facebook and Instagram to tailor messages and tease articles. Know your channels. Whether LinkedIn, TikTok or Twitter, make sure you have platform-specific content.
6. Will they care enough to share?
Whoever your audience is, you want them to share your content with others – so make it engaging, relevant and interactive. It will inspire your users to share it on their own networks, probably with users just like them, in turn creating even deeper engagement for your content.
Lucy Toseland-Bolton is Blog editor for BabyCentre.