Your customers are constantly sending signals on social media about who they are, what they value, and where they are on the buyer’s journey.

These signals can be used to engage in meaningful one-on-one conversations, to develop personalized experiences, or to paint a picture of your target market’s attributes.

Categorizing these signals into three layers – intent, profile and affinity – can help marketers make sense of social data, and turn it into actionable insights to fuel their campaigns.

Here are the three layers and the social signals that can be measured to reveal them:

Is your audience ready to buy your product? Or are they only realizing their need for a product in your category? The buyer’s journey is a useful tool for understanding how ready your social audience is to make a purchase, and exploring their intent can reveal it.

Consumers signal intent to purchase in a number of ways on social media. Here are some examples:

  • Posting a product review on Facebook
  • Tweeting a question to a customer service account
  • Mentioning specific brands in a tweet
  • Asking for product recommendations from their social network
  • Expressing dissatisfaction with an existing like product or brand

Knowing where your customers are on the buyer’s journey can inform campaign creatives, email marketing positioning, landing page copywriting and more to encourage them to move closer to making a purchase.


You can build individual and aggregate profiles of your audience using social signals. Factors such as demographics and psychographics can be combined with their interests, habits, lifestyle and more to develop a complete understanding of who you are engaging with.

By zeroing in on the social signals and attributes that make up your audience, you can develop an ongoing understanding of their changing composition. This information can be continually fed into your campaigns to keep them fresh and relevant to your audience. Or, you can use profile data to create buyer personas to better position your content and advertisements on- and off-line.


Affinity audiences are sometimes called “look-a-like audiences,” because they look similar to a target group. For instance, they can be created using your Twitter followers as a base, in order to discover a wider audience that would likely be interested in your brand.

Affinity audiences share 80% of the desired attributes of a group of consumers. They are useful when engaged in media planning, and they can be used to greatly improve reach and visibility among the right audience. They can also be used to tap into your competitors’ audience, or to push into new markets.

Additionally, they can be used to simply get a better understanding of the attributes of your audience, as they highlight the top, shared attributes of a group. This knowledge can be put to use in a number of ways, from creating more targeted content to determining the right partners and publications to align with.

The three layers

Each of these layers presents your audience in a different way, and can be used on their own or in combination to improve your marketing efforts. By knowing and working with these three layers, you will not only know your audience better, but every action you take will be more effective.