Sparktoro review: audience intelligence made easy

So this is a slightly different post than I usually write. Rather than me diving into a problem that I’d like to share a solution for, I’ve spent some time exploring the possibilities of an interesting new tool called Sparktoro. To do so, I was granted temporary free access (yeah!).

The idea behind Sparktoro is that it should be easy to identify your target audience effectively. Which it isn’t at the moment, with Google and Facebook taking in key positions in (almost) every single user journey and keeping (most of) the data to themselves.

The proposition of Sparktoro is that now you too can find the sources of influence to truly engage your online audience. You get why I’d be interested in that!

How to effectively target my future online customers

Personally I learn best from use cases. So instead of just summing up features that Sparktoro has to offer, here’s a fictitious user story. Taking the agile approach, I’ve defined my user story as “As an online marketeer for Sparktoro, I want to know who and where my potential customers are, in order to effectively target them online.

Acceptance criteria:

  • Knowing who and where the influencers are in my field
  • Knowing what websites to approach for campaigns and guest posts
  • Knowing what topics are of interest to my potential customers

Come to think of it, I wonder if the founders of Sparktoro used Sparktoro to evaluate whether they should be asking people to do reviews on LinkedIn rather than, let’s say, on Twitter. Never mind that for now.

Keyword research

Back to the story. So given that Sparktoro is built to understand where your online audience hangs out and how to best reach them, I started with keyword research and exploration of hashtags in Google Trends, Answerthepublic and on Twitter and LinkedIn.

A cool addition to Sparktoro would be to suggest alternative keywords and hashtags related to what I entered in Sparktoro search so I could have skipped this step.

Where is my target audienceAudience analysisSocial media researchSocial media funnel
How to target my audienceInfluencer discoverySocial media audience targetingYouTube video marketing
Online target audienceSocial influencersSocial media audience

For now, audience analysis seems to have the highest search volume in the field, with sociallistening being a somewhat related hashtag.

Audience comparison

I say somewhat because that’s immediately where Sparktoro comes into play.

By doing an audience comparison of people using the words audience analysis and people using the hashtag sociallistening I can see that at least part of them overlap.

Audience analysis with Audience intelligence

Now this is where the magic really begins. Basically, I’m validating online personas based on the topics that people discuss, hashtags they use, people they follow and websites they visit. So the people that discuss [x], follow these accounts, visit these websites etc.

To give you an idea of the potential number of insights that come from the combinations that Sparktoro supports, here’s a (admittedly poor) visualization.

Potential insights Sparktoro visualized

Validating online personas by pressing a single button should be a welcome change of pace for many online marketing professionals!

Social insights

Starting with the keywords audience analysis, it soon becomes clear how powerful Sparktoro is. 20.573 sources found who frequently talk about it.

And even better, the accounts followed by these sources (on, among others, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, LinkedIn and even Github). Selecting the accounts I’m most interested in, I add them to a list to get back to them later.

The accounts are by default sorted by the % of the target audience that is following a specific account. Which changes your perception nicely as it becomes clear it’s definitely not just the accounts with most followers that matter most.

Social media profile data

Clicking on one of the results gives me an in-depth overview of the account. From websites their followers visit to their total audience across platforms and other accounts followed by their followers

Allowing me to evaluate all the ways in which it could support my planned marketing efforts.

Websites used

At a glance it becomes clear that the list of websites shows great similarity to the accounts followed, which makes sense. Also it gives me a clear idea of what websites I could attempt to do a guest post on.

One thing to keep in mind when looking at the websites being returned, is that popular websites like Nytimes, Medium and LinkedIn get filtered out. Though I understand why, it was a bit of a surprise that I had to discover this by using the filters.

Website filters Sparktoro

Speaking of filters, these differ per area, so be sure to explore all the ways you can drill down into the results. From the number of followers of YouTube accounts to when a Podcast last aired.

Popular podcasts

Popular podcasts for an audience

As an SEO and CRO specialist, I’ll admit that I’ve pretty much ignored podcasts for most of my career. Which makes this view of podcasts listened to by my target audience all the more interesting!

Realizing all the ways these could come in handy to pitch a product to their listeners, the ones with the most recent podcasts definitely go on the list.

Popular YouTube channels

Again, as with Podcast, unfortunately I’ve mostly been using YouTube to either look up tutorials or listen to my Favourites over and over and over again.

Especially for the user story of effectively targeting my future customers of Sparktoro, I’ve added a couple of channels to the list.

Audience insights

From content ideas to hashtags to use, the audience insights overview gives a great insight into how and on what social platforms to reach those users that are relevant to my planned promotion.

Audience insights data

Ideally this dashboard could be either downloaded as a PDF or a simple Excel sheet to share or simply to be kept as a reminder. This isn’t yet the case unfortunately.

Back to the list

As mentioned a number of times, I’ve saved various results to a list Audience analysis and want to export this. This in order to start scheduling the work to approach the various parties and to start working on the content pieces I’ll need.

Audience analysis data lists

Going back to the list I’ve put together, I’m admittedly a bit disappointed.

I understand that the data structure behind the various entities is different and that the results are therefore put into a different .csv.

But how handy would it have been to just download a single list with all data sets combined into one! Admittedly that is also the only thing I’ve so far been disappointed with when it comes to Sparktoro.

So what about the user story?

From the above you can already conclude that Sparktoro is powered by an awesome dataset. But did it help me complete my user story? Let’s see by checking the acceptance criteria.

  • Knowing who and where the influencers are in my field

Well this has definitely been solved. And more than that, I know what other online platforms are frequently used by these influencers.

  • Knowing what websites to approach for campaigns and guest posts

So that has been partially solved by the previous point, but completely by the full list of websites. And the list of related websites for each of those. It literally goes on and on and on.

  • Knowing what topics are of interest to my potential customers

So these would, in general, be easy to derive from the websites that my audience frequents and the people they follow.

Audience content interests

But the full list of keywords and phrases that people often share from the Audience insights should definitely do the trick.

Just to be clear, these are not keywords people searched for but keywords that appeared in their posts and profiles on social media. Still as an indicator I’d personally say these give off a clear signal about the kind of content that interests these users.

Conclusion?

Overall, I’d say my user story was definitely completed successfully. As I mentioned, there are a couple of refinements I think would contribute to Sparktoro’s usability. But when it comes to the data behind it, that’s impressive! To say the least.

Disclaimer: Yes, as mentioned before, I was provided free access to take Sparktoro for a spin. No, I wasn’t in any other way compensated. It’s just a cool tool with a lot of potential when it comes to raising the bar in online marketing.

Can’t wait for it to become available in Dutch as well (for now only supports English)!

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