It's important to create content that people want to watch and consume. The best way to do that is to ask your audience, what do you want to see?
You can do this passively when you review chat room comments, or you can do it actively when you schedule events specifically for gathering information about what your audience thinks about you and your programming.
Why Should We Listen to Our Audience?
We want to tap into the needs of our viewers.
Maybe they ask us for something specific. For instance, I want to see you traveling around New Mexico and shooting outdoors. We do as they ask and then those people know we listen to them and care about their opinions.
Following through on their suggestions increases their loyalty to our channel and to us.
That can lead to sales and an increase in referrals.
They may recommend our channel and our content to their friends and family because they're enjoying it so much.
They can say, I asked them to do this and they did it. Look at how great it is! My idea was important to them.
This kind of engagement and follow-through helps viewers feel ownership of the content so they are more likely to share it.
Anytime you come in contact with your viewers, you are coming in contact with prospective customers. What's important about this initial contact with your viewers is that it can build toward a more expansive relationship with them.
That's why you should invest time in listening to your audience.
Process for Content Selection
What is the process for deciding what content you're creating and sharing?
First, define your target audience. Who do you want in your audience?
We want to speak to encore entrepreneurs, people in their retirement years, and people who are interested in traveling and seeing the sights in the Southwestern United States.
Then begin to research the topics that you believe the target audience would be most interested in learning.
Limit it to something that you love to learn about as well so that you can enthusiastically share that knowledge with them weekly. You should be as excited about producing your content as your audience is about watching your content.
It becomes exciting for them as they live vicariously through your exploits.
Continue to practice presenting weekly and people will show up.
Then ask for feedback to find out what content they enjoy most.
Check your analytics to make sure you are doing the best you can to attract an audience.
That's going to guide you in the right direction.
How Do We Gather Feedback?
- Live chat
- Feedback through email
- Focus group
- Social listening and Analytics
How to Survey Your Audience for Feedback
We start with a survey by asking people to fill out a form about what they like and don't like, and what works for them.
You can use a Google survey or a Google form. These are very useful free tools. Or you could sign up for Survey Monkey. The basic plan is free and you can add on what you need.
Create a survey or a form that people can fill out and then promote it on your live show, podcast, blog, social media and email.
Set a deadline for them to answer that survey so you can quickly start analyzing that information.
Offer an incentive to complete it. For instance, if you answer this survey, then I'm going to give you a free download or you could offer them a $10 Amazon gift card or the chance to win a $50 gift card. An incentive encourages people to feel they are spending their time on something worthwhile.
It doesn't necessarily take an incentive for them to complete a survey when they understand it's in their best interest.
Ask the right questions that place the focus on serving the viewer and improving what you provide so the respondents see the benefit of participating.
Audience Survey Example
When we were producing a show about the Forrest Fenn treasure, we decided to find out what people thought about the treasure hunt. The first one of those surveys had 350 responses. It grew every year after that, to the extent that we were being contacted by journalists to ask if we would share the survey information with them.
We'd keep the survey active for 30 days. We promoted it on every one of our programs. At the end of the 30 days, we'd have a show where we shared that research with our viewers.
They could opt in to receive a copy of the survey, as well as the data we collected, independent of any personal information. About half the respondents wanted to see the results by email.
Not only were we learning about our clients, but we were also learning about what drove the market and what people's opinions were.
It reinforced things that we already knew. The significant majority of our audience was male versus female, age 46 and over. We had people in our age group that were interested in the content that we were producing.
We made sure that we satisfied their needs in producing our content.
That drove our content development for the year that followed the survey.
A survey provides information about your audience, and information about how your audience views you.
Google forms has a survey feature, and it collects all the data. It puts it in a spreadsheet for you if you want to manipulate the data to look at it in other ways. Every year we would make one or two small improvements in the survey.
We enjoyed looking at the data and sharing it with our audience.
When you have 300-500 respondents in a single survey, that's a significant response set, and you can make judgments on your programming.
In that particular case, the people who were answering the survey were also very interested in the final results.
Gather Information Through Live Chat
If you're doing a live stream, ask viewers what do you like? Get instantaneous feedback in the live chat.
Create a live stream every week. Encourage people to show up live to ask questions and share their feedback. Request engagement and ask them to write into the chat what they're thinking and what they want to know more about.
That information is valuable because it comes from the people who are actually watching your content. They have already seen what you're producing. They know what they like. They know what they want more of and they can tell you that in the live chat.
They can also provide feedback in your video comments. They can comment on the social media platform where your video is streaming.
That is a quick and frictionless way for them to engage with you and let you know their opinions and ideas. If they ask a question, then you can direct your content to fit their needs.
You definitely want to pay attention to what they're saying, thank them by name and then follow through on those comments.
That's an important part of building a loyal audience.
In Streamyard, you can put their comment on the screen as a method for engaging the person asking the question in the chat. You're also highlighting the question as important to the other members of the audience. That leads to a process of real time engagement.
As you analyze the conversation afterwards, you get a sense of what your audience is thinking about. When they talk about these things, they are indirectly asking you to do something or to change something.
How to Get Feedback Through Email
Get feedback through email by sending out questions and having people email you back. This is something that we have always encouraged from our viewers.
We put our email address firstname.lastname@example.org everywhere. We show it on the crawl banner on all of our videos, include it in the description and show notes, and display it on our social media.
People can easily reach out to us by email and ask questions or offer their opinions. When they do that, we pay attention to it.
Ask for specific information. It is easier for respondents to answer specific questions and the answers will be more useful for you.
Follow through by reading their email and responding with thanks to those people who have given you their input. Let them know how you’re going to incorporate their ideas.
If you acknowledge their advice, they're much more likely to continue giving you their advice in the future.
They feel valued. They feel heard. So, they'll keep coming back to you.
Giving them the opportunity to reach out through email also means that if you have people who aren't comfortable with public comments, they can contact you privately.
They want to give us information that we can use to improve the quality of our content.
You may get email that's not constructive criticism, it's just whining. That's okay. It is sill information you can consider. Make that email address available to all your viewers so they can engage with you in their own time and with their own level of intensity.
This kind of access leads to building a community who cares about you and the content you produce.
It's exciting to get that kind of confidential response from our audience.
It tells us there are other things they like about us besides the information we provide.
How to Host a Focus Group
Another way to gather information is through a focus group.
What you can do as a small business is host a private Zoom group meeting.
We talked about our upcoming focus group on a live stream and let people know to look for the invitation. Then we invited everyone on our email list to attend and gave them the time and link.
We said everyone's invited and it's going to be a private Zoom. It's not going to go out on YouTube or be recorded and you can keep your camera off if you like.
Have specific questions to ask them and then follow up with them if you're going to use their suggestion. Send them an email or thank them by name during the show.
For instance, Lorraine gave us some really great feedback and we're going to follow through on that. Lorraine provided a lot of really good Information along with her ideas and she's been with us for a really long time so she knows what we can do.
Follow up by uplifting that person who gave you helpful feedback.
It's your responsibility to make sure that the time spent in the focus group is productive for everyone. Engage these folks in quality conversations.
You need to give them time to answer open ended questions and go around the room to include everyone. The variety of opinions that are expressed and their level of honesty with you is based on the way that you ask the questions and make them feel safe and comfortable.
You get a wealth of knowledge and understanding from them about how they see you in focus groups.
It takes a concerned viewer, or a concerned customer, to show up at that focus group meeting.
If people don't show up for your focus group, it may indicate that everybody's happy with what you're doing or that you don’t have enough polarizing content to spur people into action.
A focus group meeting is an opportunity for you to collect additional face to face human intelligence from the people you are serving.
These meetings are an important part of establishing contact, and getting your audience members to like and trust you.
Having a face-to-face conversation with someone in a focus group, with other people around who are stimulated by the conversation and have their own things to say about it, can inform the direction you take in your business.
One of the things that's unique about being a content creator doing weekly shows is people see us as celebrities. So, to be invited to speak with us can feel like an exciting opportunity.
They'll show up just to spend time with you if they have gotten to know you from live videos.
What you'd like to hear directly from your audience is something similar to what you've discovered as a result of your open source intelligence collection, social listening and analytics
What is Social Listening?
You can go to forums like Reddit where people are commenting on the same things that you're talking about in your content.
Research by reading what they're saying, and then asking a clarification question to get more specific information.
You can put up a social media post and ask a question or do a poll.
All the social platforms offer you the ability to do a poll and ask for people's opinions and engagement.
You can follow hashtags if there's a specific hashtag that you use a lot. We use content marketing as a hashtag. We can look at different things being said about it and compile that information so we see what the trends are and speak to that in our content.
If you're putting up a poll or a post and there is no engagement then possibly people aren't interested in that. Or the way that you phrased it wasn't interesting to them.
Focus on posts, videos, and content that gets the most engagement.
Expand on that to get more engagement in the future with that particular topic.
Post at least a couple times a week; a couple times a day is even better. The more frequently you post, and the more different things you post, the more you can figure out who's engaging with what kind of posts.
Social listening is a precursor to social engineering. Social engineering is the actions you take to increase the quality of the relationship between you and your viewers.
Social listening is open-source intelligence collection. Visit places where your prospective audience gathers to talk with one another and see what information you can get out of it that enables you to improve the quality and integrity of your content.
Social media is a good tool to use to find out about your prospective or active market.
With social listening and analytics you're not usually talking directly to people. You're just reading their comments or you're looking at how many people showed up to watch a video.
Open source intelligence collection is using what's out there from Google search to YouTube, to Pinterest, to find out what your audience is looking at and thinking about and get more detailed information from them in context.
How to Best Use Your Analytics
All your social platforms offer analytics.
When you have analytics available to you, look at them and make some determinations about what content is working well. Understand statistically what people like, what people are reading, showing up for and sharing.
Keep a spreadsheet with important metrics that you're measuring.
If you want to grow your audience specifically on YouTube, keep a spreadsheet of what content is working well. What content prompted people to subscribe or unsubscribe? Information like that informs your content decisions.
Analyze your statistics to improve your content at least quarterly using key performance indicators (KPI).
It’s up to you to decide your key performance indicators. What indicates to you that you and your content are doing well? Is it the number of downloads? Is it the number of subscribers? What is it that you want to see growing?
Focus on those numbers at least quarterly to stay on track.
Catering to Your Target Audience and the Platform Algorithm
You are a focal point. You have a relationship that extends out one way to your customers and the other way to the platform. Analytical information from the platform tells you how you're doing with these relationships.
Our relationship with YouTube can be determined by impressions.
We can tell how YouTube feels about what we're doing based on the number of impressions we receive.
An impression means YouTube has shown our thumbnail and title to someone else so many times in the last month.
At the peak of our A Gypsy’s Kiss treasure show we were getting 1.5 million impressions a month from YouTube. Then as we started changing our content, that number started falling.
The number of impressions will tell you how you’re doing because it's based upon the algorithm, the set of computer instructions that determines what viewers see.
A high number of impressions shows that you fit into that YouTube model really well.
If you have low impressions, you better think of something else to raise them. It could be as simple as changing your thumbnails, titles and description to be more in line with what YouTube expects.
Sometimes it's a matter of what the viewer is searching for or thinking about when they first see something that YouTube shows them.
But knowing what your target audience is searching for is not the only key to YouTube showing them your content.
Obviously, content that engages an audience for a long time and keeps them on the platform, where they will see more ads from YouTube, is promoted more frequently.
What YouTube and the other social media platforms expect is that you are in line with their methods of keeping people on their platform for as long as possible.
That means you are in line with their perceptions of the major topics being discussed today.
If you're sharing something related to trending topics, you get more impressions.
What they're looking for is people talking about what is interesting to other people at that exact moment in time.
When you talk about trending topics, they're going to show it to more people because more people are interested in what's trending.
For the people on Instagram, TikTok or YouTube that become influencers, what they have mastered is not only how to use the platform, but they've mastered alignment with what that platform expects as it relates to their topic.
Platform algorithms are constantly looking at what people are talking about, what the news is, where the interest is, and what you're doing about it.
Study your analytics to understand what is working well for you and keep that in mind as you create content for your audience.
The Content Creator Lifestyle
We published a book on Amazon called Livecast Life: The Content Creator Lifestyle. Part of that lifestyle is getting feedback from your audience and using it to improve your content. Get that book at book.livecast.life. It's a wonderful look at all our experience livecasting and how to succeed at it, overcome those trials and tribulations and get really good at it.
Over the years, we've refined our system down to two infographics. One is the Content Consistency Framework, and the other is the Content Consistency Schedule. We've put those together in one download that you can get at framework.agkmedia.studio. You can print it out, put it up on your wall and follow that framework and schedule to become a content master following that simple formula.
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For a different take on what we do, join us on Wednesday nights at 7:00 PM MDT for News and Views. We're starting a series on the thousand-year drought. The Western states have been in a drought for the last 21 years. There are a lot of people affected and we're traveling outdoors with our cameras to document the drought and talk to the locals. This last week we were at Elephant Butte Dam surveying the damage that's been done not only to the dam and the lake but to the surrounding community.