Know Your Audience (Demographics And Viewer Personas)

20th March 2022 No comments

When making a video, identifying your audience should be the first thing on your to-do list. Otherwise, how are you going to know if you’re saying the right thing – and in the right way?

It doesn’t matter whether you’re producing a sales video, or making training videos for your staff or colleagues. If you don’t think about who’s watching your videos, they won’t be very successful.

A lot of the time you’ll already know who your videos are for. But formalising your audience makes sure everyone else involved with the production knows who they’re trying to reach too. It might also help you clarify your goals and objectives.

Additionally, understanding your audience will guide the technical aspects of your video. For example, it’ll help you work out where your videos are going to be displayed when they’re finished. Some social media sites, such as Instagram, have unique requirements for video content. To get the best results, you’ll need to design your videos for these platforms from the start.

So how do you find your audience and make videos that stand out?

Audience Demographics

A good place to start is by defining the demographic of your audience. This provides high-level information about the people who will be watching your videos.

Usually this includes:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Geographic location
  • Ethnicity

For example, 25-35 year old, White British men from Southampton.

As you can see, a demographic isn’t too specific. We’re not talking about individual people and their preferences. We’re defining the overall characteristics of a group of people. (Your audience, en masse!)

That said, you can add more information to your demographic if it’s relevant to your audience as a group. You could include their income bracket, profession, qualifications (e.g. undergraduate degree), or other relevant information. For example, if you’re making a video promoting an iPhone app, being an iPhone owner would be a good point to include in your demographic.

Defining Your Demographic

Although you can create a demographic that you’d like to reach, it’s generally better to define your demographic with actual data. This helps you focus. The last thing you want is to get into the habit of saying your videos are for “everyone.” There’s no such thing as a video that appeals to “everyone.” (Need proof? Baby Shark is the most popular video on YouTube by numbers. But is it liked by everyone? No no no, no no no no.)

How do you find credible demographic data? If you’re making a sales video, you could look through your existing customer list. If you’re making training films for your company, you could simply walk into the office, look around, and get a feel for the type of person you’re trying to appeal to. Or you could conduct extensive market research to get the information you need.

The approach you take should be appropriate for the size of the audience you hope to reach.

A sample of Google Analytics' Demographic Information
A sample of Google Analytics’ Demographic Information

If you’re digitally savvy, you might already have a good picture of your audience through tools like Google Analytics. Social media sites like Facebook and LinkedIn can also show you demographic information for your company’s pages. And if you’ve been uploading videos to YouTube, you might have audience insights available there too. If you’re trying to reach the same demographic that you’ve reached before, but you simply haven’t defined it yet, this data is a great place to start.

These data points all feed into the broader picture of your audience. You can use this information to guide you with your content decisions.

Viewer Personas

Another useful tool for understanding your audience is defining who specifically is going to be watching your videos. We do this with “Viewer Personas”. These personas help you picture exactly who will be watching your content.

If you’ve ever created a buyer persona for your products or services, a “viewer persona” is the same thing but for your video’s audience. These personas are usually fictional, but based on the traits of real people; your customers, prospects or colleagues, for example. (Whoever your video is aimed at.)

Personas are different to demographics, which are much broader. Personas help you understand the motives behind an individual viewer. They help you identify their motives and what they hope to get out of watching your videos. This is crucial for informing your approach to a video project.

Example – “Sarah”

Here’s an example “viewer persona” for a video about a university course:

  • “Sarah” is 16 years old.
  • She is currently studying A-levels at Sixth Form College. She’ll be making her choices for university this year.
  • Her favourite subject is English, and she is predicted to get a B or higher in it.
  • “Sarah” lives in a three bedroom detached house in Winchester.
  • She likes her home and wants to stay close to her family.
  • “Sarah” is very tech savvy. She has an iPhone 8 and spends most of her free time talking to friends via WhatsApp, Instagram and TikTok.

With this persona, you can make informed decisions based on how “Sarah” will engage with your video.

Firstly, you’ll want to make sure that the language in the video is suitable for someone her age. Secondly, you might promote the proximity of the university (if it’s local) or try harder to sell the “getting away” aspect.

Finally, you might decide to optimise your video for Instagram or TikTok, rather than Twitter or Facebook. And because “Sarah” is tech savvy, she will almost certainly know how to skip adverts on sites like YouTube. If you plan to use the video as part of a paid campaign, you’re going to need to make the first few seconds punchy to get her interest.

Example – “John”

If you’re making a training video for your colleagues at work, your “viewer persona” might be:

  • “John” is an Account Manager at My Company Ltd.
  • He doesn’t have much time for training as his job requires lots of travelling.
  • He has a smartphone and laptop, which he accesses his company emails from.

In this case, it would be sensible to make a short video that can be watched during a quick break between meetings. You’ll also want to make sure that you can send the video to your team over email.

Creating Your Own Viewer Personas

As you can see, “viewer personas” can be as detailed (or not as detailed) as you’d like. If you’re making a training video for your colleagues at a small company, a few bullet points is probably enough. If you’re trying to make a video that’s part of a large consumer marketing campaign, you’d probably want to conduct extensive market analysis first. In which case, your personas may be pages long per person.

I recently worked on a project where the client simply defined their viewer as “a lorry driver from Leeds”. That short and sweet “viewer persona” told us everything we needed and helped us adjust our approach to the project appropriately.

Creating Multiple Viewer Personas (And Feeding Back To Your Demographic)

There’s no limit on the number of personas that you can create. However, you might find better success making multiple videos that are aimed at your different personas. The less focussed your video is, the more likely it is that your message will become muddy and unclear.

However, you might legitimately have multiple personas that need to be targeted with one video. For example, in the case of a training video, your company might employ people across a range of ages, ethnicities and locations. In which case, your personas can help you find common threads that run throughout your entire demographic.

As you build your personas, you should feed data points back into your demographic. After all, your demographic is just a definition for a group of these individuals. While they may differ in some areas of their person, they will have things that unites them all.

For example, your demographic could consist of people with an age range as far apart as 20-year-olds to 60-year-olds. However, they could be united by their need for financial advice.

Monitoring, Maintaining & Developing Your Audience

As you continue to use video, you’ll need to monitor, maintain and develop your audience. It’s not as simple as pressing “upload” and putting your feet up.

As we mentioned earlier, platforms like YouTube, social networks, and services like Google Analytics collect insights about who’s been watching your videos. After releasing a video, your audience insights will allow you to see how accurate your audience predictions were.

If you weren’t able to reach the audience you were hoping to, the data might be able to show what went wrong. In which case, you can modify your video and try again. Or you can work on fixing any problems for the next video. Remember, this is all part of the creative process and is totally normal. You’re unlikely to hit a home run on the first swing.

On the other hand, your data might show you areas to develop your audience. Perhaps your videos aren’t being watched by a certain group of people. What can you do to reach those viewers too? Luckily, you will now have data to use, which will greatly help with guiding you along the path to future successes.

Making Great Videos For Even Greater Audiences

If you’re looking for creative video content that will resonate with your audience, why not get in touch?

Our team are experts in video production, animation, live streaming and photography. We can create high quality content that resonates with your audience – and we can help you define your audience too.

Simply let us know what you’re looking for and we’ll let you know how we can help. We look forward to working with you!

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