4 simple tools to find your audience online

You can’t build an online community if you don’t know where your audience is. Track them down with these helpful tools.

After looking at tools for online listening, I promised I would follow up with the tools to use in assessing the conversation.

Promise kept!

We discussed the five steps in social media I recommend to new clients who are just beginning to branch out online. These steps are:

  • Listen
  • Assess
  • Engage
  • Measure
  • Refine/improve

We’re at the assess phase now, which means we need to look at where our customers and prospects are already participating online.

Remember, this not the Field of Dreams. If you build it, they will not come.

You need to figure out where your audience is participating in order to determine where you need to spend your time.

There are four tools you can use to begin to understand your audience’s online preferences. Some are free and some are paid. We’ll explore both.

1. Fliptop is a tool that lets you upload email contacts from your computer, an email marketing platform, social media, or Salesforce. It returns the contacts’ demographics, titles, companies, all of the social platforms they use, and their Klout scores. It will give you 100 free social profiles; anything beyond that is a paid option. It’s an easy way to test the software to see if it’s something you’d like to consider paying for and using.

2. Qwerly is a little more sophisticated, and you should use it only if you understand APIs and how to insert a key into your Web properties. This is a paid tool that takes a person’s name and location and returns his or her bio, social networking profiles, usernames, and influence score, such as Klout.

3. Gist is a tool you insert into your email server, such as Outlook or Gmail. Every time you email someone, it returns information such as their most recent blog post, what they’re reading, their shared photos, and their social networks.

4. Xobni is the Batman of email. When you install it in your email server, it returns so much information it’s almost scary. It gives you a user’s social platforms like the other tools do, but it also shows you which attachments you’ve exchanged with that person, what time they’re typically on email, how many emails they’ve sent you or haven’t responded to, and more.

The only thing we don’t like about Xobni is it takes up a lot of memory, and tends to crash frequently in Outlook. But, their customer service is excellent. If you decide to use it and have problems, someone is readily available to help, even after hours and on weekends.

The difference between these four tools is Fliptop and Qwerly give you a snapshot of the people in your customer relationship management database, and Gist and Xobni give you access to the people you are emailing at that moment in time.

All the tools are useful in assessing where your audience participates online.

Once you have a snapshot of your audience from one of the first two tools, you can build your community where the majority of your customers and prospects are already participating. Then, use Gist or Xobni to enhance your community building.

Gini Dietrich is founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich. A version of this post originally ran on Spin Sucks.

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