4 Illuminating Steps to Listening to Your Audience (and Learning to Speak Their Language)

Have you ever traveled to a foreign city without planning anything except your plane ticket?

If you have, I bet you felt lost and a bit overwhelmed by all the decisions you had to make on the spot – directions, accommodation, activities, meals.

Most likely though you did some research and planning ahead of time so you knew what to expect. You might’ve flipped through other people’s itineraries online, picked up a guidebook or even started learning the language.

Prepping for a trip to a new place is a lot like getting to know your community’s needs: the sooner you begin immersing yourself in their culture, the quicker you will familiarize yourself with their world and be able to communicate with them in a meaningful, authentic way.

The question is, how do you immerse yourself in your community and start making connections with ideal customers? By following the four steps below and always adhering to the golden rule of research – listen.

1. Tap into social media

Whether your audience hangs out on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn, social media is a fantastic place to get to know your community.

If you’re just building your audience, join Facebook groups and follow relevant hashtags on Instagram and Twitter. Chime in on the conversation and provide helpful answers.

Facebook group
Facebook groups are great places to listen to your audience.

As you interact with different members, take note of how they express themselves: which words do they use to discuss their frustrations and pain points?

Social media is a powerful way to see what your community is talking about. Be it their interests, complaints, hobbies or headaches, you can learn a lot from online dialogue.

This insight can then be used to create content that will resonate with your audience – that’s the goal!

2. Uncover keywords

While you’ve begun taking note of your community’s feelings, questions and remarks on social media, uncovering keywords people are searching for is another beneficial way to gather intel.

Using tools like Google Keyword Planner and Wordtracker (more on that here), you can see what your audience is actively looking up in your field on the internet.

Not sure where to start?

Begin with a few keywords (four to five) you think your audience is searching for then see how they rank in popularity and competitiveness using the tools above.

Remember: you want to focus on keywords with a high search volume and low competition.

Focus on keywords that are trending up over time.

Once you’ve eliminated any words that don’t seem to be getting traction through search, use the same tools to discover related keywords (this is a great way to come up with new topic ideas for blog posts, too!).

After checking the number of impressions these related keywords receive, along with how competitive the word is, you should have a short, solid list of keywords that your audience is actively using.

Before finalizing your list, it’s always a good idea to see how your keywords are trending. Because, you guessed it, you want to create content and optimize your website using keywords that are trending up.

With your golden list of keywords in hand, you now have a valuable understanding of your community’s search and social behavior.

3. Ask for and listen to feedback

When you’re living and breathing your business day in and day out, it’s easy to forget that not everyone sees your products and services the same way you do.

That’s why it’s important to ask your customers and clients for their feedback and opinion on using your product/service.

This precious type of intel can be collected in a variety of ways:

  • A brand or performance survey (incentives help attract responses)
  • Customer reviews of a product, service, experience, podcast or any interaction with your brand
  • Comments on a social media post
  • An online discussion like a webinar or Instagram Live
  • A client testimonial

All of these give your community the chance to open up about their perception of and experience with your business.

Using these different feedback systems, you can understand how others talk about your brand, what they like most about it and what they’d like more of. It’s direct insight that allows you to tailor your messages so they fit exactly with the needs and wants of your customers. That’s priceless.

4. Meet IRL

Now it’s time to close the computer screen and meet your audience face to face.

This allows you to physically be a part of your community and make personal connections that run a lot deeper than an email or online chat.

Check out an event or put on one yourself to build trust with your community.

Plus, it’s a fantastic way to hear what your audience have on their mind. Whether in a group setting or one-on-one, you’ll be able to hear the passion, excitement, distress or concern in their voice.

You begin to see what’s holding them back and pushing them forward – two important elements of creating tailored content.

So where do you meet your community IRL? Here are a few places to start:

  • Conferences centered on your field of expertise
  • Meetups in your area geared towards sharing and learning
  • Networking opportunities (alumni, industry-led, company-wide)
  • Events put on by you, designed to bring your community together

To recap: these four ways of getting to know and understanding your audience will make your content and connection with them much stronger.

In fact, immersing yourself in your community and learning how to speak their language should be the first thing you do before creating any piece of content. Because if you don’t know what your audience is interested in and looking for then how will you get their attention, much less have them visit your site?

That’s where tapping into social media, keyword research, listening to feedback and meeting people IRL come into play. Cracking into even one of these treasure chests will benefit your content and most importantly, build trust with your audience.

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