Your audience is the lifeblood of your business, and knowing who they are and what they want is a key to success.

What you might not know is that there’s a treasure trove of knowledge about your ideal audience hidden in the sea of followers and fans you’ve already attracted.

Here are four ways you can learn more about your audience by looking at their social media life.

#1: How Do They Describe Themselves?

Look at their bios on their social networks. How do they describe themselves? What are they passionate about? This may be obvious, but most of the users you’ll run into take this space very seriously, and the short (often < 200 character) bio is a precious piece of real estate.

By analyzing your followers’ bios, you can get a deeper look into the things that they value most highly about themselves.

For example, if they devote a lot of space to their location, you can assume that they have local ties that are important to them. You might want to develop appropriate location-based marketing tactics here.

hack ogden bio pic location focused
Hack Ogden’s bio is packed to the brim with local-focused terms.

And if they spend more time talking about their projects or achievements, you might want to look into adding gamification elements to your site.

kevin rose achievement focused bio
Kevin Rose’s bio is devoted primarily to his accomplishments.

As you can see, you can discover useful information to improve your marketing when you study social media bios.

A great tool to find out how your audience members describe themselves is Followerwonk.

This tool pulls a report of a startling amount of information about your Twitter followers, which you can use to develop your ideal audience persona.

Check out the bio word-cloud section of the Followerwonk report. This gives you a useful overview of how your followers describe themselves. Use this information to tailor your content to their interests and adjust your marketing tactics.

followerwonk bio word cloud report
While my followers span the business gamut, they tend to think of themselves as marketers.

#2: When Are They Most Socially Active?

Knowing when your fans are online and active is a key component of effective content delivery. Social media moves so quickly that tweets, posts and pins can get lost in the flood of information in your fans’ social streams.

5 minutes of waiting twitter
83 new tweets popped up in my timeline in just 5 minutes.

For example, if they’re most active during normal business hours, you can reasonably assume that social media is part of their job, so in-depth articles focused on advanced strategies and tactics could do well.

And it’s certainly worth knowing when people want to read your content.

A great tool to find out when your audience is most socially active is Tweriod.

There are countless (really, I tried counting!) tools out there that will tell you when your followers are online, but none are as extensive and detailed as Tweriod.

The basic Tweriod report is free, but you can also opt for a more advanced report for a few bucks. The free report is sufficient for most needs, but if you want to get detailed information about the performance of your tweets and not just your followers’ schedules, the premium report is worth the price.

tweriod most active report
The ideal time for me to reach my audience during the week is 12:00 PM PST.

#3: Whom Do They Listen To?

Engaging the top social influencers in your business niche is one of the quickest ways to get your message in front of your ideal audience. A key quote from a prominent member of your niche’s community can spark massive amounts of engagement and traffic.

For example, a story flew around the Internet last year about rapper 50 Cent, who tweeted about a company he’d invested in. His series of tweets bumped up the value of the company he promoted by 240%.

50 cent stock tweet
Can you imagine what a tweet like this could do for your business?

In some niches, the influencers can be easy to pick out. However, these icons are often nigh unreachable for your average business. So how can you find influencers in your niche who are both reachable and influential?

A great tool to discover whom your audience listens to is Klout topic pages.

Klout topic pages are community-moderated, concise and well-curated lists of the top influencers on specific topics. For all the flak about Klout being arbitrary, it’s pretty strongly indicative of the true influencers in the topics it covers.

klout topic pages
Klout has a concise list of the influencers on nearly every topic you could imagine.

#4: What Content Do They Want?

Perhaps the most telling thing you can learn about your audience comes from a look at which niche social sites they frequent. Not only can this help you learn about their interests, it can also help you dig deeper into the kind of content they want by the networks they favor.

For example, if your audience frequents sites like Quora and LinkedIn Answers, they are likely to favor hands-on problem solving and expert opinions. In this case, consider writing content with this in mind to net deeper engagement and more true fans.

quora top followers
The top answerers and followers section on Quora can be a good place to look for your audience. Are they here?

And if your audience frequents sites like Dribbble and Pinterest, they’re likely interested in design, crafts and aesthetics. In this case, you should consider adding high-quality original photography and art to your blog posts.

The best way to find out what kind of content your audience wants is to use your brain. As far as I can tell, there isn’t another tool yet that will examine this on a large scale.

For an easy solution, run a survey on your site with a widget like KISSinsights and ask your audience which smaller social sites they like to visit. Then, take a look at the content that does best on these sites and try to reproduce it on your own site.

Try to identify the aspects of these sites that resonate with your readers. Create content that matches the most successful content on these social sites and see how it affects your audience. And with that information comes engagement.

What do you think? How can you learn about your audience with social media? We’d love to hear your thoughts! Leave your questions and comments in the box below.