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Find Fans’ and Followers’ Pain Points in 5 Simple Steps

This guest post is by AJ Kumar of Single Grain.

Social media sites are great for a number of different purposes, including connecting with your readership and establishing yourself as a thought leader within your industry. However, the interactions you have on these popular social sites can also serve another major purpose within your business—providing the market research necessary to uncover your audience’s hidden pain points.

But what are pain points, and what makes these issues so useful from a marketing standpoint?

Essentially, “pain points” are the problems that members of your audience have that they’re actively seeking solutions for. Let’s take a closer look at different parts of this statement to see what makes pain points so powerful:

  • The problems: When you can identify different issues that your audience is facing, you can also identify and provide the solutions they need. Doing so will increase both your reputation within your niche and your ability to market products that resolve these issues.
  • That members of your audience have: As a blogger, you’re only one member of your community, which makes it easy to assume that your audience members are experiencing the problems you expect them to have. Unfortunately, limiting your survey of potential pain points to your own assumptions means that you could miss some tremendous opportunities to connect with your readers over problems you never even imagined they’d be facing!
  • That they’re actively seeking solutions for: Problem-solving is a continuum, which means that people need to acknowledge that they have certain problems and actively seek out a solution before your interventions can be useful.  Approaching readers at the wrong point on this spectrum—for example, before they even know they have problems—can make your marketing efforts less successful.

With all of these different factors in mind, here’s a simple five-step process for uncovering your audience’s hidden pain points and using these problems to connect more effectively through better-targeted blog posts and paid products.

1. Find your audience

Clearly, in order to identify the pain points your audience is expressing on popular social networking sites, you first need to locate your readers!

Now, I’m not just talking about high-tailing it over to Facebook or Twitter, finding a few token users and setting up your pain points marketing plan based on the presence of a few audience members. Instead, what you want to find is the social website where people are actively pouring out their innermost feelings to fellow members of their communities.

Within your niche, this might be Facebook or Twitter—or it might be a forum, message board, or chat site.  Don’t limit the potential of your market research by observing only surface-level interactions or assuming that the top-tier social networking sites will be the best places to understand your members’ inner pain points.

The easiest way to identify your audience’s internet hangouts is to pretend to be an audience member yourself.  Enter questions into Google as if you were searching for the types of information your site visitors are looking for and pay attention to the sites that appear in the natural search results.  Explore these sites and follow any external links you encounter, paying close attention to signs of high engagement (for example, post comments, forum thread views, and social shares).

Once you find the hottest social sites in your niche, take the time to set up a profile for yourself and begin interacting with your audience.

2. Find the keywords they use

As you engage with your potential site visitors on your chosen social networking sites, pay special attention to the way they’re asking questions and the keywords they use to do so.

One of the biggest weaknesses facing bloggers who incorporate traditional keyword research into their website marketing plans is that the data found in these number-crunching programs often fails to tell the whole story about your audience’s actual interests and desires. The result is a blog that’s well-optimized for the search engine spiders, but not your actual readers!

For example, suppose you run a blog in the weight loss industry, and your keyword research turns up good search volume and low competition for the phrase, “easy tips for fat loss.”  However, if your audience rarely uses the phrase “fat loss”—instead, preferring the words “weight loss”—you could be missing a golden opportunity to target your audience’s pain points by failing to optimize your blog for the appropriate words and phrases.

3. Search social media sites for questions and issues

In addition to using social networking sites to uncover potential keyword optimization ideas, you can also search the content that’s been posted to your social-site-of-choice in order to uncover your audience’s most pressing issues.

Continuing with our weight loss blog example mentioned earlier, suppose you determine that one of the best social sites in your niche from a market research perspective is 3fatchicks.com—a popular health and fitness forum site primarily targeting women.  Entering the phrase “help me” (a good signifier of the issues people are actually facing) into the site’s search tool returns the following set of results:

Research results

Many of the threads listed here provide great insight into the pain points your audience is currently experiencing—any of which could be turned into future blog posts or paid products.  As an example, the forum post titled, “help me stop being so addicted to chocolate!!!” could easily be transformed into a “17 Ways to Beat Your Chocolate Addiction” report that you can practically guarantee will appeal to members of your target niche.

4. Ask your audience questions

If you’re having trouble identifying social networking site posts that reveal your audience’s pain points, you can also go directly to the source and gather data by asking your audience leading questions.

For example, consider the following sample questions:

  • What has been your greatest achievement to date?
  • What invention would help you most right now?
  • What one thing would you like to give up forever?
  • What would you do right now if you were handed $1,000?
  • If you could change any one thing about yourself, what would it be?

Just a word of caution, though: for best results, it’s best to use this technique only after you’ve already established yourself as a valuable member of your social networking community. Attempting to ask leading questions when you’ve just joined a new online community can result in either a serious lack of responses or the perception that you’re scamming your chosen social networking site.

5. Develop blog posts and info products based on stated issues

By following the steps above, you should have uncovered a wealth of information about your audience’s hidden pain points that can be directly transformed into effective blog posts and paid products.

However, keep in mind that market research on your audience’s issues should be an ongoing part of your blog’s promotional plan.  Changes occur in every industry, whether in terms of new websites launching, new technologies being released or any other type of innovation, which means that the problems your audience faces will change as well.

For best results, check in with this process frequently and pay attention to the reaction you get to the posts and products you release targeting the pain points you’ve uncovered.  Use this insights to tweak your future launches, and—over time—the insight you gain into your audience’s hidden motivations will make you a far better blogger and a much more respected member of your community.

AJ Kumar is co-founder of Single Grain, a digital marketing agency< based in San Francisco. Single Grain specializes in helping startups and larger companies with search engine optimization, pay-per-click, social media, and various other marketing strategies.

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Comments

  1. This is a good approach to developing a thought-provoking series of articles for one’s blogs. Another approach that I usually take is by also reading up on other blogs, and seeing if I can improve an existent solution. This way, you can also build influence in the blogosphere by interacting with other bloggers.

  2. Samuel says:

    Using this article, you will be able to pin point exactly what your readers need. I talk about that in one of my articles on how to create content based on your readers need.

    This article helps you identify them and pin point them exactly. I disagree with the keyword section. If they are many searches on the web for that respective keyword, then there is a chance that many are having problems with that area and are looking for a solution.

    Otherwise, using social media is a great way to find areas to help with. Excellent writing!

  3. Anthony says:

    AJ – these are great ways to come up with ideas for blog posts. Genius! Thank you :)

  4. Jarom Adair says:

    Great post AJ. Your steps are well laid out and people would do well to follow what you say.

    One thing I’ve also found about keywords–when you’re looking at the words people use as they describe their pain, these are not only the words that are relevant to search engines but they are the words you can use in your marketing to draw people in to your blog post and sell your info product.

    As you read the words people use to describe their pain, take note of the exact wording and phrasing they use. If you then turn around and use that same wording to describe back to them what they’re experiencing at the beginning of your blog post or sales page, not only will people feel you understand them and their pain, but they will also:

    - be drawn into your post or sales copy and want to read more
    - automatically believe you must have the solution to their problem because you understand them so well

    So keywords are key for many reasons, and using them properly will increase your exposure and effectiveness in many ways. I’m glad you brought them up here AJ. Great post.

  5. AJ,

    These are some great tips and very helpful when you have run out of ideas or in a rut and can’t figure out what to write next. Sometimes we can get tired of writing the same type of information, but there is always someone new who will find your information for the first time, so keep writing.

    Jenn

  6. Kevin says:

    Using social media to figure out what readers want is a great way to get ideas for targeted posts and articles. If they hang out in forums participating and having your website and possibly your offer in your signature can be a great way to generate traffic to your website. Just make sure you are not spamming.

    I really liked the idea of taking the topic of a post in a forum and creating a blog post or report around it. You are guaranteed at least one group of readers from that one post. I’m going to have to try that for my blog.

  7. Ron says:

    Thank you so much for this post. I’m launching my website later this month and have been lamenting over finding blog post ideas. I had a clue and was headed in the right direction, but was needing a little more direction.

    A question I have: let’s say you do a search on forums using phrases such as “help me” or “confused,” and then you find several posts with several answers by forum members. Is it plagarism to take the responses and incorporating those into a blog post?

    Thank you.

  8. Graham Lutz says:

    Maybe we should step up the standards for guest posts again…

  9. David K says:

    Excellent article, a genuine connection with your audience is the only way to guaranty longevity in this business.

  10. Bryan Vadas says:

    Great blog, and you’ve hit the nail right on the head. I run a crowd funding site – http://ipledg.com/ – and your blog really sums up how project creators too can engage the crowd to assist them to fund their projects. Thanks for your wise words

  11. Lisa says:

    This post has inspired me today to look into a a forum to join. I have not yet done that. Great way to see what the questions and concerns are out there. And then address them with a new post. Thanks for the tips today!

  12. Fantastic post! Providing value is the key to success. You have shared some great ideas.

  13. Ehsan says:

    I always ask a question to my readers about my future article and I write my post on the topic which my readers want to read. Thanks for the informative article anyway.

  14. Romeo says:

    Holding readers is utmost concern. Perhaps giving them quality experience will eventually make your site their online home in terms of information. This article is really great and the comments as well. We learned a lot of great minds here. Thanks I got this page!

  15. Hi AJ,

    Digging deeper into specific search terms on social networks helps you drill down quickly. Be creative. Think like your fans and followers by taking a step back and listening to their problems.

    No better way to find pain points. Simply listen intently.

    Thanks for sharing a super helpful article.

    Ryan

  16. This is a good approach to developing a thought-provoking series of articles for one’s blogs. Another approach that I usually take is by also reading up on other blogs, and seeing if I can improve an existent solution. This way, you can also build influence in the blogosphere by interacting with other bloggers.

  17. Loved the idea of making a title from the questions people are posting i.e. “Help me for something”. This is certainly something i missed completely.

  18. Sam Jonson says:

    Fantastic post! Providing value is the key to success. You have shared some great ideas.

  19. Romeo says:

    The article is really great! The discussions are realistic and offers a great recommendation. Keep it up!

  20. Josh says:

    What made this article unique is that it clearly illustrate the topic in a simple way that can be understood by everybody. Yup it’s really true that social media plays a very crucial role in online business. Thanks for the insights!

  21. Jeoffer says:

    Customers have always been a lifeblood of every business! Holding them back is the things businessman is trying to discover and obcourse the quality of your business is also matters. Nice article!