1. Activity Logs

Yep, plain old stalking.

Granted, it sounds weird, but it’s a really cool little trick to get the most accurate data.

Why? Because the data is coming straight from your audience.

How? Through what’s commonly referred to as the ‘Activity Log’.

Platforms like Facebook and LinkedIn allow you to go to a connections profile and see exactly what they have been engaging in.

Whether they’ve reacted to it or left a meaningful comment, you can see the exact kind of content that is grabbing their attention.

Not only that, you can also stalk the most successful personal brands in your niche. See what they’ve posted and you’ll find the content that made them so successful.

Once you have this information, you can use it to construct similar posts to the ones they have shown an interest in – or even answer specific questions they have asked in the comments.

2. Answerthepublic.com

Google and Bing are absolute goldmines of consumer data.

I guarantee that pretty much any question your target has about your niche, they’ve searched into Google before.

In fact, it’s probably the first thing they do.

So, imagine if you could pull all of those searches into one neat mind map and see what they were asking…

That’s what Answer the Public does for you.

Look, here are the most common questions around personal branding:

The also offer paid plans which afford the ability to search limitlessly, compare data and filter based on language or location.

In similar vain to Answer the Public, Google Trends shows you the popularity of particular searches over time.

Where this is especially handy is in looking at the changes in searches over time.

You can which questions are on the rise and be the first of your competitors to answer them!

You also get to see where the searches are most popular. For example, if your audience are strictly based in the US, you can restrict your search to just that area.

For example, these topics related to ‘social media marketing’ are on the rise in the US at the moment:

4. Quora

There are a lot of online forums where you could collect this kind of data, but Quora seems to be the biggest and easiest to use.

It’s pretty simple really.

You search a topic by keyword (e.g. small business) and Quora brings up a collection of real questions that people have actually asked (as well as the responses to them).

This allows you to answer that person specifically, providing value to a new audience member (as well as anyone else searching for the answer to that question).

What’s more, you can also see other people’s answers and how they were rated.

Maybe one answer was particularly good because it gave actionable steps – you could implement that into your content.

Or maybe you have a different angle to everyone else that could be helpful.

The data is there, it’s up to you to use it.

5. Buzzsumo (free trial)

Buzzsumo pulls together the top performing content, trends, topics and questions from across the web, whether that’s a blog post, Facebook update or Tweet.

It also shows you the top platforms for that piece of content.

So not only do you now know what to post, but where to post it!

For example, you probably want to focus on Facebook if you’re a social media marketing whizz.

6. Groups

Again, Facebook and LinkedIn pioneer the Group.

On these platforms you can find huge groups of niche users, literally sitting in one place.

Once you join the groups you can see what questions they’re asking, what content is performing well in those groups and also the way they interact with each other in a comfortable setting.

This is a great way to find out how to resonate with your target through your content.

In the B2B space? Here’s a 39,000 strong group of business owners

7. Your voice…

JUST ASK THEM!

There’s nothing wrong with dropping a question on your feed, in a forum or in a group asking what your audience would like to see.

It shows you care about serving them and they’ll appreciate that.

After all, you’re solving a problem they have – why would they not appreciate it?!

You might find that you get different questions from Twitter than you do from LinkedIn, for example, which means you can tailor your content to each platform.

This really is the simplest of them all.