January 5, 2017

How Audience Index Can Produce Insights in Conversation Research

It’s one thing to know what percentage of a given audience is male-female, different ages, ethnicities and so on. It’s another to understand how that audience compares to the norm. Indexing a given set of results against a generally understood or accepted point of reference not only frames the context of that audience characteristic, but can help you elevate important insights in conversation research.

Some social listening platforms offer audience indexing in the demographic and psychographic data. This seldom used and often misunderstood statistic is one we constantly refer to at CRI since it can lead to more intimate understanding of the overall make up of a given audience.

To better understand indexing, take a look at this chart on a given audience’s ethnicity. Its primary function is to show the percentage of the audience broken down by ethnicity.

But we’ve also displayed the index compared to the general demographic profile of a commonly used site (in this case, Twitter). We know from multiple resources (Pew, Northeastern University, etc.), in general, Twitter’s audience parallel’s the U.S. population in terms of ethnicity.  Even with some variations considered, at a minimum, we are comparing our audience to an audience of people who are active social media users.

Indexing audiences in Conversation Research

As you can see in this audience, caucasians index at a 1.14 rate. That means that this audience if 14% more likely to be caucasian than the base audience of Twitter users. So it skews white. It is comprised of slightly more African-Americans, 19% less Asian, a bit more less American Indian or Native Islander and “other.”

But look at the Hispanic index. An index of 0.28  means this audience is almost 80 percent less likely to feature Hispanics than the base audience of Twitter users.

What does this tell us? It could tell us a few things:

  • Hispanics aren’t talking about this topic (if you’re doing conversation research) or buying this product (if you’re analyzing sales data)
  • The industry or brand in question does not appeal to Hispanics
  • The industry or brand in question ignores Hispanics

The definitive answer would require more detailed research, but seeing the huge disparity in the indexes gives us reason to investigate and perhaps an opportunity to fuel decisions to improve the business.

And keep in mind that demographics aren’t the only thing that can be compared in index form to Twitter or other data sets. You simply need a known and common data points. In CRI’s research, we frequently surface indexing for age, gender, ethnicity and geography, but also social interests, professions, bio terms and more.

Indexing is a powerful statistical feature to understand as a researcher or a marketer. Understanding it could be the key to unlocking equally as powerful insights for your business.

For help with understanding your audience and how they index compared to known audiences, drop us a line. We’d love to help.


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