How to understand your audience and create videos they want to watch

Content creators Zolita and Shannon Beveridge explain how you can better understand your audience and start creating videos they’ll love.

If you want to create videos that really make an impact, it’s critical to understand your audience. This can range from simple demographic data to something more abstract, like knowing what they find interesting.

Without that knowledge you’re effectively just throwing content at the proverbial wall to see what sticks. Sure, you may occasionally get lucky and hit your target. But guesswork is no way to grow your audience long term. 

Fortunately, all of the information you could ever need to more precisely target viewers is well within your reach. You just need to know how to use it to your advantage. In Episode 2 of The Beginner’s Guide to Creating Video series, two successful short-format content creators, Zolita (ZOLITA) and Shannon Beveridge (nowthisisliving), walk you through helpful tips to understand your audience and learn what makes them tick.

Tip 1: Define your audience to understand their preferences

Tip Number 1: To understand your audience and engage them, you need to define who you're making videos for.

Your first step on the road to understand your audience is to ask yourself a fundamental question: What do you want to say, and who do you want to say it to? If you’re producing content around a specific topic, you’re obviously passionate about the subject matter. But take a second to consider your motivation. Are you looking to entertain? Educate? Carve out a space for representation that’s currently lacking? Answering these questions upfront will help sharpen your focus as you create.

Starting out as a content creator, Shannon Beveridge knew she wanted to reach a queer audience, who she felt was underrepresented online.

“Knowing exactly who I was trying to talk to made it really easy to make the kind of content they didn’t have,” Shannon says.

The same advice holds true if you’re looking to create content in a competitive. Pop musician and filmmaker Zolita says she’s gleaned valuable insights by scoping out the audiences of other successful creators in her niche.

“When I first started making music it was definitely important for me to see artists that maybe occupy a similar lane and what was working well for them. Where is that audience, and what platform is the best way to reach that audience?” Zolita says.

With so many platforms out there, it’s important to consider not only what kind of audience you’re trying to reach, but where those people are already consuming content. Once you become familiar with these things, the door is open for you to take an even deeper dive into understanding your audience through data.

Want to understand your audience and drive more views? Check out Episode 2 of the Beginner’s Guide to Creating Video. 

Tip 2: Follow the data to understand your audience and engage them

Tip number 2: Follow the data to understand your audience's preferences and learn which content resonates with them.

Popular platforms like YouTube, TikTok, and Instagram Live offer a range of handy, baked-in analytics to help creators look under the hood at the makeup of their audiences. These tools can reveal all kinds of useful information, including demographic data and viewer engagement behavior. 

All of those numbers may be intimidating at first, but having access to that information is truly a game-changer for creators. Each nugget of insight you can extract from your viewership data will help you tailor your content for maximum impact and reach. By tracking your engagement and demographics over time, you’ll start to understand your audience better. And you can use that information to create more content that will resonate with the people you’re targeting.

These platforms also provide a treasure trove of feedback for content creators in the form of user comments. Think of comments as a personalized feedback loop. They’re like a dialogue between you and your audience that lets you hear directly from your viewers and respond to them in near real-time. Read the comments on your videos, and engage your audience by asking them what they want to see more of. If you find a certain topic or type of content is hitting the mark particularly well, give the people what they want!

If you’re not tracking your viewer data and listening to your audience’s feedback, you’re entering battle with one arm tied behind your back. Ignoring that kind of actionable insight would be a big mistake.

Data is nothing to be afraid of. In fact, it can be your key to creating better videos. Find out how in Episode 2 of our Beginner’s Guide to Creating Video.

Tip 3: Be consistent (but not boring) to keep your audience coming back

Tip number 3: Produce and publish videos consistently keep your followers engaged and better understand your audience.

Audiences crave consistency. They like having at least some idea of what they can expect from the content creators they follow. One way you can establish expectations is by sticking to a predictable release schedule. Just be mindful that straying from it is likely to ruffle some feathers. 

Another way to establish consistency is to understand your audience’s interests, and deliver on their expectations. Shannon Beveridge is an excellent example of consistency in action. She’s cultivated a devoted audience comprised mostly of queer women. And she’s grown it over time by elevating their voices in her content. Many of Shannon’s YouTube videos feature her frank and often humorous takes on topics including sexuality, gender, and coming out. Maintaining her tone and topical consistency across her content has helped her establish a deep connection with her audience. That connection is part of what keeps them coming back for her videos.

Viewers also want to see people who they identify with represented in videos — which has historically been less common for members of marginalized communities. In the past, Shannon struggled to find positive queer representation in stock footage. She decided to do something about that, though. She teamed up with Storyblocks for our Re:Stock initiative to produce the Authentically Queer Relationships collection for our content library. 

Making your audience feel represented in your content is a great way to deepen your connection with them. But don’t forget that even inclusive content has to be engaging, so don’t lose sight of what’s interesting to your viewers.

Giving your videos a cohesive look-and-feel is another way to achieve consistency. This can include fonts, colors, and imagery that reinforce your brand or your channel’s aesthetic. These touchstones will become familiar and even comforting to your audience. Check out Episode 7 for more on how to express a signature aesthetic across all of your videos. 

Pro tip: If you want to create quality videos with a cohesive look fast, upload your frequently used branded assets into Storyblocks’ editing tool, Maker for Team. It’s the easiest way to keep your videos feeling consistent — even when multiple collaborators are involved. Storyblocks also provides ready-to-use templates to save you time when you need to add a splash of personalization to your projects.

Want to learn more about how being consistent can help you grow your audience? Watch Episode 2 of the Beginner’s Guide to Creating Video.

Bonus tip: Don’t be afraid to take risks in your videos

As a creator, the surest path to burnout is producing the exact same type of content over and over again. Once you’ve identified a format your audience likes, be careful not to pigeonhole yourself. You don’t want to limit yourself to just one kind of content forever. So, try to balance consistency with risk-taking. Use the tools at your disposal to check in with your audience and see which risks are paying off. Then, make adjustments accordingly.

No matter how large or small your audience is, knowing who they are and what they respond to is essential. Their feedback becomes particularly important whenever you’re trying something different. Internet audiences are often blunt, so you’re sure to hear about it if your attempt falls flat. On the other hand, an influx of rave reviews can indicate you may be onto something.

Once you’ve built a devoted audience, don’t take them for granted. Be sure to listen to their feedback and respond (either right in the comments or with more videos) to keep the communication open.

Next time on The Beginner’s Guide to Creating Video…

Storyblocks’ original series, The Beginner’s Guide to Creating Video, is free for you to watch right now. You can binge the whole series in less than an hour, or just pick and choose individual episodes that interest you. Regardless of how you watch it, you’ll pick up tons of tips. Tune in now to learn how you can start making great videos faster than ever before. 

Coming up in Episode 3, you’ll discover winning social media distribution strategies that will help you reach your audiences on all the right channels.