Audience Research Newsletter

Howdy friend! Welcome to the first edition of our Audience Research Newsletter. It's where we gather our most valuable learnings on audience research. We'll include links where relevant, but our goal is to help you think differently about your marketing strategy.

All in a single email. Under 8 minutes of reading.

On with the newsletter!

Next Week's Office Hours: Sept. 2, 11am PT

Our first Office Hours was geared towards agencies, and our second session about PR strategy was best for in-house marketers. While everyone is always welcome to #SparkToroHours, next week's topic is relevant to all marketers.

Next Thursday, September 2, we will cover: Do Better Marketing Through Customer Cohorts.

We'll explain why it's effective to go group by group with your marketing, and how cohorts can inform your overall segmentation.

Save your seat to join Rand Fishkin and Amanda Natividad for this 20-minute presentation followed by 40-minute Q&A. If you cannot join, sign up anyway so we can send you the recording.


7 Frameworks for Virality

The root of amplification is caring. People don’t engage with or amplify things they don’t care about. 

This comes almost exclusively from an emotional place, not a logical one.

Some viral content can be analyzed, reverse-engineered, and applied to the work you create and how you earn amplification. We've uncovered at least 7 ways that marketers can do this:
  • Novelty: Consider what makes the news and what doesn’t. An extremely unusual event like “Two headed seahorse born at aquarium,” or “vaccinated person gets Covid,” will often get headlines, even if the story is of questionable value. People tend to amplify things that are new in both topic and timing.
  • Belief Reinforcement: Say you’ve long believed that astrology has a real, scientifically verifiable effect on behavior (to be clear, it doesn’t). If you were shown a research report showing correlation between behaviors and birth months, it’s quite likely that regardless of that study’s quality or source, you’d be likely to share it because it reinforces a belief you hold true, and one that others often challenge. This holds true across people and groups with beliefs of all kinds.
  • Surprise: Shock and surprise drive a tremendous amount of the engagement and sharing behavior on the social web. Headline writing, by itself, can transform the content of a piece from something that feels familiar and comfortable into something surprising and amplification-likely.
  • Controversy: Side A says this, but Side B disagrees. Who’s right? Find out tonight on content that’s sure to receive lots of sharing. Controversy plays to emotions and even the popcorn-munching titillation of watching a conflict unfold.
  • Familiarity or Fame: Wealthy couple gets divorced. Yawn. Bill and Melinda Gates get divorced. Click. Read. Share. Amplify. Speculate. Content around things with which we’re familiar raises opinions, whereas the same info about an unfamiliar topic might fall flat. 
  • Rankings: Top 10 tacos in Texas. Best vacuum cleaners. Most fun games to play on Nintendo Switch. Visit this state park, but skip these two. Rankings leverage a seemingly innate desire for comparison and selection criteria, and it creates an incentive to share for three groups:
    • Those who care about the field or problem 
    • Those connected to the winners (and losers)
    • Those making a choice in that niche.
  • Ego: When someone makes fan art about your creation, or writes an article about your work, or interviews you for a show, you are very likely to share it. But, as this type of coverage is produced more often, it also becomes less novel and less share-worthy.
There's much more to learn in Rand's recent blog post: Who Will Amplify This and Why?

Nail Your Next Media Pitch

An effective media pitch boils down to getting on the editor's level and telling your story in a way that incentivizes them to amplify it.

Nowadays, there are two ways to do this:

Classic audience research: Keep up with the writers and publications on your pitch list. In reading what they publish, you gradually learn to see their audience through point of view. You see the trends in their coverage, and eventually, you'll start to notice the gaps. That's where your pitch comes in.

As effective as that can be, it's hard to scale. You can speed that up with an audience research tool, like ours.
  1. Choose a publication that reaches your audience. Run a SparkToro query for the publication's social media handle.
  2. Look at what your audience is talking about. You'll see the hashtags they're using, and their frequently used phrases.
  3. Pull the data. Go through SparkToro Text Insights, assemble a list of all the phrases that speak to your company's solution, and pitch that publication: "We noticed you haven't covered this topic yet, and it's something your audience talks about a lot. Here's a story that encompasses those topics."
If you prefer this in video format, watch this 90-second demo from Rand in which he shows you how to do this using SparkToro.

That's all for now. Thank you for reading.