Evaluating Social Media: Step 4. Identify your audience

Organizations often take the easy way out and measure what’s easy to count, such as visitor numbers for their Web sites. But those numbers won’t tell you what those visitors did with the information or content they found. According to the authors of the guide, “you’re ultimately trying to move an audience; therefore, getting feedback from the right source is crucial for a good evaluation.”

The authors tell us to be specific when identifying the audience. Simply the “general public” or “young people” (a particular favorite among managers that jump in with social media efforts) is not acceptable. Narrow your audience to a well-defined group. But identifying your audience does not simply mean knowing, for example, the demographics of those who are most likely to visit a performance (white, 55-64, household income of…). It’s all about behaviors.

Marketing expert Doug Dome explained to me: “behavior and financial value of behavior are at the heart of integrated marketing communications.” The financial value of behavior is an important aspect for your commerce goals, but there is more value to behavior than purely money. And that other value is what we’re trying to evaluate here.

In our example, you will want to evaluate those online users who are most likely to influence others, those who will become your evangelists.

The authors of the book “Groundswell: Winning in a World Transformed by Social Technologies” created so-called Social Technographics, a classification of people according to how they use social technologies. Here are the different categories and its public’s behaviors:

Publish blogs, Web pages, stories, audio/music/video

Post ratings, reviews; comment on blogs/forums; contribute to/edit wikis

RSS feeds, add tags to pages or photos, vote for web sites

Maintain profile on social networking site; visit social networking sites

Read blogs, watch video from others, listen to podcasts, read forums, ratings and reviews


In social media, the creators and critics will be your audience. Those are the people that are most likely to create content that advances your mission, content that contributes to your goal and objectives. Their online behavior influences others. But keep in mind; you have to concentrate on the relationships, not the technologies. It’s about what they do, not necessarily about what they use.

In addition, the authors of the guide advise that your evaluation should include both the audience targeted for your activities as well as any other audience who may influence your goals and outcomes. How are the collectors, joiners and spectators contributing toward your goal?

It would, for example, be interesting to learn how they have made their purchasing decision. Were they influenced by the creators and critics, your target audience?

Tomorrow, we’ll look at step five: establishing your baseline.

(Source: Are We There Yet? A Communications Evaluation Guide)