The start of the new year often signals the chance to revisit your content strategy. In doing so, you’ll naturally want to know what’s been working and what hasn’t.
We may think we know what our audience wants, but without asking first, it's possible to miss the mark completely. I have gained SO much humility from my audience’s feedback. How, you ask?
Not quite a year ago, I was contemplating taking my first step into monetization with an ebook. Writing is my first love so it just made sense, right?
As I was planning on topics for the ebook, I was dead-set on writing about the step-by-step process of a personal rebrand. I had done three rebrands in my first year of blogging (that’s a whole other story for another day) so I figured that’s what everyone knew me for.
Just to make sure, I asked my audience on Twitter with an open ended tweet to vote for the topic of my first ebook by replying to my tweet. I gave them the option of (a) a Step-by-Step Rebranding Guide or (b) a Content Strategy Outline.
The results were laughable. I had a total of 75 people answer my question. Out of those 75, only three (I repeat, ONLY THREE) said they’d rather have the rebranding guide. Gulp. I didn’t know my audience’s needs as much as I thought I did. I took this as a huge learning experience.
Even when we are highly connected to our audience, it’s still important to regularly ASK what they need. Otherwise you’ll end up making assumptions like I almost did which could have cost time and energy in products and services your audience doesn't really need.
Regularly asking your audience what they like (and aren’t such a fan of) can help you create better content with their needs in mind. It’s as simple as knowing how and where to ask.
Ask question in your blog post
This may be one of the most simple ways to survey your audience. Your reader is already on your website reading through your blog post. It makes sense then to introduce a CTA (aka “call to action”) to invite your readers to give their opinions in the comment section. You’ll be able to get real, transparent answers from people who actually read and adore your content. Neato.
Ask question in your newsletter
If you asked a question on your blog post, kick it up a notch by asking your subscribers too. People who are on your mailing list are even more invested in you because they’ve given you permission to show up regularly in their inbox. They also will most likely fit your target audience so you’ll receive more relevant feedback.
You don’t need to have a certain number of subscribers to send a survey. I remember sending a short survey on my newsletter structure back when I had around 200 subscribers and still got a few dozen replies. Send it out and see what happens!
Chances are most of us have answered a few blog reader surveys from other bloggers. It’s fairly common to give a reader survey to your audience on your blog anniversary or at the start of a new year (hello, 2016!), but that’s not the only time you can utilize them.
You can quickly whip up a survey and send it out to your subscribers or post it on your blog. I highly recommend Typeform for creating clean and streamlined surveys, but SurveyMonkey and Gravity Forms do the trick too.
Try to keep your survey questions brief and to-the-point. I’ve found the ideal length of a survey is around 4-6 questions, some open-ended and others with multiple-choice options. Test different formats and find your sweet spot.
Twitter polls are great if you want to anonymously poll your audience on one question. You can give your Twitter followers anywhere between two to four options to choose from. They simply click their answer and they’re done! It also shows you instant results and how many people have voted so far. Caution: they are highly addictive!
Ask question on Instagram
Are you a highly visual brand with a large portion of your audience on Instagram? Meet them where they are and ask your question on the platform. Pair it with a striking photo and be sure to reply back to everyone who answers.
You can even take a step further and host an Instagram Q+A. If you’re looking for Q+A inspiration, here’s a great example from Social Studio Shop. For even more goodness, Jessica of Social Studio Shop and I walked through hosting Instagram Q+A’s in her interview in The Power of We audio series. Listen now.
Ask question in Facebook group
Facebook groups are arguably one of the best places to ask a question if you want a general consensus from like-minded people. If you’re looking for some creativepreneur Facebook groups to join, here are some of my favorites.
Your question can either be open-ended, which you see most often, or you can create your own poll if it’s more of a quick multiple-choice question. To do so, you can locate the Facebook group and click the ‘Create Poll’ tab. Then write your question, input your options, and post it. Easy!
Before posting your question, do read the group’s rules to be sure it fits within the community guidelines. Also, don’t ask your question in *every* Facebook group in your industry. Pick one or two for intentionality.
Ask question on Periscope
With the recent rise of Periscope, it has become the perfect place to survey your audience for real-time answers. While on a live broadcast, you’re able to not only read but also respond to your audience’s comments. Viewers come into live broadcasts ready to participate so it’s great place for interaction. If you’re interested in building your Periscope audience, an informal survey may be the trick.
Don’t forget the follow up!
When your audience members take the time to answer your survey question(s), say thank you with a personalized message. It could be as short as a quick tweet or if it's a longer survey, an email or even a handwritten note goes a long way. If the survey is anonymous, a simple, blanket "thank you to those who contributed" post on whatever platform you asked your question(s) on will do the trick.
Want to learn how to structure Q+A's?
We cover this in my audio series for community builders, The Power of We. You'll get instant access to all 10 episodes when you enter The Lounge below. Yeah, for real.
What ways have you tried surveying your audience? What has worked for you? Let's chat about it in the comment section below.