Reader Audiences and Analytics: What Do They Really Reveal?

by | Jul 27, 2016

Audience – the people who watch, read, or listen to something

— Source: Merriam-Webster

The dictionary’s first definition for an audience is:

“a group of people who gather together to listen to something (such as a concert) or watch something …”

But its second definition applies to you. And so I must ask, are you familiar with your audience?

When I ask authors whether they know who their audience is, I’m surprised when some of them reply, “everyone should read my book” or “everyone will like my book.”

Well, not exactly. If you write grammar manuals or cookbooks, you may be under the false impression that everyone needs your book. But everyone won’t buy it or even think that a grammar reference, dystopian novel, or low-fat cookbook would be worth its purchase price.

Similarly, not everyone enjoys romance, fantasy, crime noir, and fantasy novels or literary fiction.

Crime, mystery, and thriller books can be a hoot to read. But not everyone will read those genres let alone pick up a paperback or pay a buck to add one of those novels to an ereader. And, although there are plenty of older adults who enjoy young adult novels, the actual readership of those books is younger.

So I ask you: Who is your audience? Are your readers comprised of women between the ages of 30 and 45 or middle-grade readers or science fiction buffs? Michael Hyatt has said that his ideal audience is comprised of men who make at least $75,000 and are a certain age, which I can’t recall right now. But you get my point. He’s very specific in identifying and then targeting his audience.

When I started my still unpublished novel in 2000, an editor asked me whom my readers were. To be frank, I had no idea. Now I know who my readers would be: historical fiction aficionados and those who love to read about Spain or Spanish historical events. And I think my prospective readers will be primarily women over the age of 35. When I return to that manuscript, I’ll have those readers in mind as I finish it.

Whether you think you know whom your readers are, or if you have no idea who they might be, don’t worry. There’s a relatively easy way to verify readership. Let’s look at three options you can consider, although Facebook and Google Analytics are the best resources.

Insights: Facebook Analytics

Let’s start with Facebook’s Insights, which are only available to authors with a Facebook page.

Click Insights. You’ll find the link above your banner image. Clicking Insights will take you to your analytics. Next, click People in the left-hand menu. This is what will appear after your click People:

Facebook Analysis- Likes

From this information, I now know that my Facebook fans – and very likely the people who read my books – are primarily women who are between the ages of 45 and 64.

This next graphic shows in descending order the countries my readers are from. I would suspect that most are from the United States, and they are.

As an aside, I use the above information whenever I create a Facebook ad. For example, I always select the United States for geographic region and the 45 – 64 age group. For testing, I separate men from women in my ad sets.

Let’s look at Twitter next.

Twitter Analytics

To access your analytics on Twitter, go to this link in your search bar: https://analytics.twitter.com. Look at the top menu and click Audiences.

Twitter Analysis

When you arrive at Audiences, make sure that you’ve selected Your Followers from the drop-down menu.

Twitter Analysis2

The wealth of information here will astound you. Here’s what you’ll find:

  1. Your audience’s interests
  2. Occupations
  3. Consumer buying habits
  4. Gender
  5. Household incomes
  6. Net worth

By the way, even the information that appears superfluous can be helpful when purchasing advertising.

The big blue and white graph will detail your follower growth over the last three months.

The next menu to explore is this one:

Twitter Analysis3

The demographics tab is the one you’ll want to study. Some information is repeated from the initial overview so let’s look at what else is here.

  1. You’ll learn the predominant language of your followers.
  2. You’ll find your followers’ country where they currently reside.
  3. You’ll discover which region they live in. In my case, the number one region is England followed by California and then Texas.

What is useful is the gender information, which for me, matches my Facebook Insights’ data.

Google Analytics

If you have a website with a self-hosted blog (versus using the blogging sites Blogger or WordPress.com), you need Google Analytics. Sure, the information at first may seem overwhelming, but this is a treasure trove of data. Today we’re only going to focus on a couple of items.

Let’s look at your website visitor demographics. Using the menu on the left, click Demographics. You’ll find this tab beneath Audience.

Google Analytics

On the overview page, each of the left-hand sections in blue is hyperlinked and will reveal deeper levels of information. There are additional categories beneath the ones in the image below – such as browser and operating system – but today let’s narrow our approach. Immediately, you’ll see the languages that your website visitors speak. Demographics will appear like this:

Google Analytics2

When you click Age, you can see the data on a chart.

Google Analytics3

You can also see the age categories of your website visitors in descending order in this chart.

Google Analytics4

Also, you can view another graph, showing you on which days of a recent week people of different ages visited your website.

Google Analytics5

In the chart of ages above, the blue font is hyperlinked, and you can click each age category to uncover additional details about your readers, such as the number of sessions people in that age group enjoyed on your site and the genders of people in each age group.

Just looking through this narrow prism, what can I conclude now? Far more women than men visit my website and my Facebook page and follow me on Twitter. In addition, the age categories on Facebook match the age categories on Google Analytics, and they match the ages of people who hire me for social media management work and training.

Whether you are confident that you know your audience well or not, analytics are important to review. In the case of Twitter and Facebook, your analytics will measure your posts’ performance, growth of your account, and return on investment of your time on those networks. Google Analytics’ results should match your social media analytics, but even if they don’t, enjoy this collection of data.

One last tidbit: If you want to know which social media networks refer traffic to your website, go to Google Analytics, click Acquisition –> Social.

Will you use this information to determine who your audience is? Let us know in the comments.

Photo: pixabay.com.

tbd advanced publishing starter kit

17 Comments

  1. Melissa Van Dover

    Hi Frances, I thought this was a great overview of readily available analytics for authors. I have a background in Marketing and I can’t agree with you enough on how important it is to understand who your audience is.

    In addition to using your audience demographics to determine where and how to set up your advertising, it can also be used to craft better stories and improve cover design. All of this is critical for increasing sales and building a long term career as a writer.

    I saw that you referenced that the analytics can be overwhelming but that we’d be surprised what information we might use when purchasing advertising. I was wondering what piece of analytics that you used, that surprised you the most when purchasing advertising? Thank you again or a great post!

    Reply
    • Frances Caballo

      Melissa: Thanks for your comments. The analytics that help me the most in deciding on audiences for Facebook advertising are Facebook’s Insights and Google Analytics. Which analytics do you most rely on?

      Reply
      • Melissa Van Dover

        Hi Frances, I rely mostly on Facebook analytics as well. Thanks again for the great post and feedback!

        Reply
  2. Harald Johnson

    Excellent post, Frances. But trying to find “Insights” on my Facebook page is proving difficult, i.e., I’m not seeing it. Maybe because it’s a “personal” page? Your insights (!) appreciated.

    Reply
    • Frances Caballo

      Harald: Analytics aren’t available on a Facebook profile (where you have friends and can send and receive friend requests). They are only available to those with Facebook Pages, where others can Like your page and you have fans. On a page, the link to Insights is available above your big banner image. I hope this helps!

      Reply
      • Harald Johnson

        Ah… that’s the difference. Thanks! I see that you have both. Actually, I do, too, on a different project, but I found it duplicative to post to both FB Profile and Pages. Q: But I suppose you recommend having both types, correct? And trying to migrate the Profile Friends over to Page Fans (as appropriate)? Your advice appreciated.

        Reply
        • Frances Caballo

          Harald: You can now convert your Facebook profile into a Facebook page. However, the posts won’t carry over. This is fairly new and I haven’t done it for any clients but here are the instructions directly from Facebook.com:

          Converting your personal account to a Page creates a new Facebook Page that’s based on your personal account. We’ll transfer your current profile picture and cover photo to the Page, the name on your personal account will become the Page’s name, and you’ll have the option to add friends as people who like the Page and to transfer photos you’ve shared from your personal account to the Page.
          To convert your personal account to a Facebook Page:
          Go to Create a Facebook Page Based on Your Profile
          Click Get Started and follow the on-screen instructions
          Please keep in mind that:
          You can only convert your profile to a Page once.
          You’ll have a personal account and a Page after completing the conversion, and you’ll be able to manage the Page from your personal account.
          The tools to help you move info from your profile to your Page will only be available for 14 days after you complete the conversion.

          I hope this information helps!

          Reply
          • Harald Johnson

            Thank you, Frances! Will definitely look into this.

  3. David Olsen

    Helpful article that clearly presented the information. Like Linda in the first comment, I would like to learn more about another authors’ audience. I have the first e-book of a projected 5 book series up and would like to fine tune marketing efforts to the right audience. I believe I have a fair idea, but more info such as how others in similar books are doing would be helpful. My target is 55 to 70 year old men and women, but do they use some form of e-reader? Are both men and women equally interested? And my inquiring mind needs to know.
    Yeah, I know, I got to get my website up too.
    Thanks
    David Olsen

    Reply
    • Frances Caballo

      David: Take a look at my reply to Linda’s comment. I think the best way to find out whether your readership is to compare your ebook sales records with your paperback sales records. Do that with the first book in the series and see what happens. But experts say that it’s important to have your books available in various formats: ebook, paperback, and if it makes sense, audiobook. I hope this helps.

      Reply
  4. Florence Osmund

    I was aware of Google Analytics but not for our Twitter and Facebook pages, so thank you for sharing this information. Fan demographics are invaluable!

    Reply
    • Frances Caballo

      Florence: I agree that the information the analytics provide is invaluable. So glad you liked this post.

      Reply
  5. Linda Bonney Olin

    Is there any way to gather basic demographic info about the visitors to someone else’s site?

    I’d like to research the target audience for a book I’m writing that is outside the primary subject matter of my own website. It would be helpful to know the age and gender of people who visit websites connected to popular books in the same field.

    Linda

    Reply
    • Frances Caballo

      Linda: You ask an excellent question. I imagine that information professionals, and a lot of them are former librarians, have access to databases that can provide competitive market analyses in various niches. I’m not sure they could do it for readers. But an easy way for you to look at who’s reading your colleagues’ books is to go to those authors’ Facebook pages and see who’s commenting and sharing their content. Then go to Twitter and find out who follows those authors.

      Reply
  6. Ernie Zelinski

    First, a well-written and very informative article.

    You ask, “Will you use this information to determine who your audience is?”

    Likely not. This seems like a lot of work — and I am quite lazy. This is one of the principles by which I abide.

    “Look to make the smallest move that gives you the biggest gain.
    That’s what genius is all about.
    It’s also known as working smart instead of working hard.”
    — from “Life’s Secret Handbook”

    Insofar as learning about my audience, first, I do my best to write a blockbuster book. As Mark Coker of Smashwords said, “Good isn’t good enough.” Once my blockbuster book is in enough hands, it creates a lot of word-of-mouth advertising and a lot more sales. Then the letters, emails, and even phone calls start coming in from my readers. It is amazing what people tell me about themselves in these letters, emails, and phone calls.

    Reply
    • Frances Caballo

      Ernie: I applaud you on the success success you’ve achieved and your relationship with your readers. That’s awesome.

      Reply

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