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Psychographics: The New Frontier In Marketing

Lately, I’ve been reading a lot about psychographics. Though it’s been around for 30 years, psychographics have been a bit of a buzzword in the marketing hemisphere and one trend I hope doesn’t go away. Demographics is so dry with its facts and figures about gender, age, income, and family status, but psychographics dig beneath that to find out what makes people tick.

As an official Nosey Person, psychographics- and the way it examines someone’s interests, activities, and opinions- are infinitely more appealing to me. I am a writer after all, and I like to know why people do the things they do. The marketer in me also geeks out over how much easier a psychographic approach makes having conversations with my clients’ customers. As you know, at EdgeTheory, we’re all about that conversation.

So how do you apply psychographics to conversations on Twitter?

You start with listening. If you don’t start with listening you don’t stand a snowball’s chance in h*** of knowing and understanding the people you are going to be interacting with every day.

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In a real conversation, you talk with people, not at them. Anyone who has had to deal with a bad salesman understands the distinction.

Getting to know who your customer- a.k.a. developing a psychographic profile- is not hard if you know the general topics you want your business to participate in. You just have to read up on it.

Start by searching keywords and hashtags directly relevant to you and familiarize yourself with the conversations going on if you’re not already familiar with them. Look at the most vocal and insightful people in those conversations. Scour through their profiles and tweets to see if there are any commonalities. If you can, look up their blog or Facebook or Instagram to try to get a bigger picture of who they are.

I don’t know about you, but if someone wanted to find out a lot about me quickly they could just look at my social media profiles- the digital equivalent of hearing my life story. With accounts on Twitter, Facebook, Flipboard, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram, Medium, Google+, GoodReads, Periscope and probably a few others I’ve forgotten about, it would be super easy to find everything from my reading preferences to my religious affiliation to what I did this weekend- with pictures. (Spoiler alert: mostly pics of my two cats, Oliver and MaeMae, and my hedgehog, Hector.)

Don’t do this for every person in the conversation, just 3 or 4 of the most relevant. Spend enough time on this step that you begin to pick up intuitively on what’s important and who is the most involved. You want people who come back to these topics again and again, not people who breeze in with big, bold statements only to never be heard from again.

The coolest thing about this approach is how you begin to see the connections between people who aren’t in the same demographics, which is where using your imagination comes into play.

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Say you sell reproduction parts for antique car restoration. As you begin looking through the conversations around car restoration on Twitter and clicking on different people’s profiles, it slowly dawns on you that a lot of these guys (and gals!) reference 80s cult movies. Now, 80s cult movies have nothing to do with your business, but it’s reasonable to assume that if you add a few 80s cult movie references to your Tweets, you’ll get a good response.

It doesn’t matter if it’s a teenage girl who loves working on an old muscle car her grandfather gave her or a retired businessman who restores cars as a hobby, the reference resonates with both and broadens your horizon of who you can talk to and what you can talk about.

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Because you imagined what your customer would like, you were able to directly speak to them in a way that was authentic and not sales-y. This created trust and made it much more likely that the next time someone wants an exact replica of a hard to find hood ornament or a Knight sleeve-valve engine, they think of you. Instead of focusing only on pushing sales, you thought of what the customer would like in their day-to-day life, creating a pleasant interaction and a win-win situation.

When you imagine what an average day would look like for your customer, what they get excited about, what annoys them, you are able to meet your customer where they’re at. In the world at large, this is known as empathy, so doing this can cause personal as well as professional development.

What you do from here will depend on your company’s needs. For some, it will be enough to know their customer better and internalize that knowledge. For others, it will include hardcore documentation and company-wide training. It could be versing your marketing department in what you’ve discovered to inform strategy going forward. I suggest you at least make notes on what you learn as you go. (Always good to have something to refer back too). But now that you’ve figured out who your customer is beyond demographics, you can apply this knowledge on all fronts, not just Twitter.