You Are Not Your Audience

Let’s be honest. I’m not the average social media user. I have tweeted 19,500 times, my LinkedIn connections have surpassed my Facebook friends and I hop on every new platform that Mashable writes a review about. As a social media manger, my usage/consumption habits couldn’t be more opposite of the audience I’m trying to reach (for the most part, at least).

When you work in social and digital, it’s easy to forget the rest of the world doesn’t operate like we do. We geek out over meerkating, adore the refresh button and believe good content will save us all. Yes, we live in a bubble. A social media bubble where we connect with strangers, take part in tweetchats, meet online before we meet offline and always seek out the next best thing. In all seriousness, we’re different than our team’s/league’s audience.

The recent Meerkat obsession is a perfect example of how those of us in social/digital are different than the average consumer. My friends that don’t work in social or tech have no idea what Meerkat is, yet all of a sudden it’s a viral sensation. The app hasn’t gone viral to the masses; it’s gone viral in our techie circle.

Before we start pushing out Meerkat live streams to our fans just because it’s the bright and shiny thing, we must understand why we are doing it. Do our fans want to consume content this way? Does the app provide a unique perspective? What’s the value? Just because we are enamored with Meerkat, doesn’t mean it makes sense for our team or league. This is true for all new platforms and trends.

Here’s that all-important reminder: You are not your audience.

This understanding, that we are different than our audience, is an important reminder as social media managers. Our job is not to worry and obsess about the content and platforms we care about; it’s our job to obsess with the content, platforms and consumption habits of our audience. But, how do we do that? Here are a few of the ways I stay tried and true to the audience:

Test personally.
I believe strongly in testing platforms, mediums, etc. personally before throwing it on the consumer. Figure out the pros, the cons, the nuances and the wins before you give it a “go” as a brand. This will ensure that you aren’t left behind with the latest trends and also let’s you figure out how it might fit into your goals, audience, brand, etc. before you activate.

Start with what you want to accomplish.
As with anything, when you embark on a new initiative, ask what you want to accomplish. Often there are many different ways to accomplish something or tell a story, so don’t let a platform pigeon hold you.

For example, while Meerkat has pushed live streaming into the spotlight, the idea of live streaming isn’t anything new. Perhaps another method, like Hangouts On Air, makes more sense in form or function for your audience. Trends and emerging platforms can spark some great ideas. Just remember, sometimes there’s a better form and function that will work for your audience. Always start with what you want to accomplish then go from there.

Ask the whys.
“Why” is my favorite question. Why does the fan care? Why does this add value? Why are we doing this? If you can’t answer the whys, then you should probably just move along.

Listen to metrics.
Metrics tell the most powerful story. They let us know what resonates with our fans and what compels them to share. Pay attention to metrics and what your audience cares about. If something isn’t resonating, whether it’s a platform or a content series, don’t be afraid to step away from it. Trying something new in social media/digital is great; being tone deaf to its success or failure is not. Don’t turn a blind eye to what the stats say just because you liked the idea (or thought of) in the first place.

Ask your audience.
Thanks to social media, you have a focus group of sorts right at your fingertips. Don’t be afraid to ask your audience what platforms they like, what content they care about, etc. Your audience is right there. Ask, listen and then take action.

As a social media manager, it’s easy to forget that not everyone uses the platforms like you do. In this meerkating, latest app obsessed world, don’t forget to take a step back and put yourself in your audience’s shoes. To do social media right, you have to remember that it’s not about how you consume but about how they consume.


How do you make sure you are staying tried and true to what your audience craves? Share your insight below!

Thanks for reading! 

Why, Value & Care

Note: This is a more general social media post than what I normally share here, but I still think there’s some relevancy.

Let’s face it. Working in the social media industry is a different beast. The work is always changing, everyone has an idea for how to leverage it and there’s no shortage of things you can do. It’s overwhelming at times to figure out how to execute and execute well.

I’m here to let you in on a little secret: The key to staying sane AND doing good work in the industry is asking the right questions. Poke and prod to make sure you are doing meaningful work. You can put a lot of time and energy into meaningless work, but why not focus on what matters instead?

But how do you get to the heart of the matter? How do you make sure you have a stellar social media presence? You get there with these three little words: Why, value and care.

WHY.

A good social media strategy maps back to organizational goals (as with anything). To have a strong social media presence, you need to lay the proper foundation. Take the time to understand your goals and objectives. Once you have them, ask “why” relentlessly.

Why are we doing this? If you can answer the why and it aligns with your goals, then you know the work is meaningful for the company. Now, it’s time to move on to the next question.

VALUE.

There’s a lot of noise online today. Consumers see so much content all day every day across platforms. To stand out from the noise, you have to add value.

Focus on the value your content, campaign, presence, etc. is providing. Ask yourself what value it brings to the table? Are you educating, informing, entertaining, etc.? Make sure you aren’t just broadcasting content that adds zero value (or you’ll get tuned out).

CARE.

The final question is an important one, because it gets to the heart of your consumer. Even if you think you are adding value, you need to look a little deeper and ask if your consumer cares.

Does your consumer care about the content you are sharing? Does it evoke emotion and resonate with them? If the answer is no, then you don’t need to share it. Period.

At the end of the day, a big key to social media success is this: Create meaningful content that adds value, resonates with your consumer, and aligns with the goals of the organization. The concept is simple, but getting the work right is hard. If you use these three little words as a sounding board though, you’ll be on your way to a stronger and more meaningful social media presence!

Remember: Asking questions is a good thing, so don’t be afraid to press.

 Thanks for reading! 

10 Professional Focuses for 2015

unnamedThis is a little bit different from my normal post here, but I think it’s one worth sharing. This past year has been a roller coaster ride for me professionally, filled with both highs and lows. Through it all I’ve learned so much though. As I look to 2015, I’m excited. This year has given me clear focus on what I need to continue to do in my career and also what I need to work on. So, I thought I would share my 10 professional focuses for 2015. Perhaps something will encourage you in the New Year ahead too:

Write (well, continue to).
Starting this blog two years ago is one of the best things I’ve done professionally. It has helped me keep up with the industry, forced reflection, connected me with others and so much more. More than anything though, this quote sums up what writing has done for me:

Become a better writer means becoming a better thinker. – Ann Handley

Writing, without a doubt, makes you more strategic. It helps you become a better communicator because it teaches you how to analyze, compose, clarify and persuade. In 2015, I want to continue to take the time to write. You should consider it too, even if you don’t want to share your writing publicly.

 

Step outside of comfort zones.
The times I have grown the most are the times I have stepped outside my comfort zone (like speaking in front of people). It’s easy to get complacent and content, but I refuse to get stuck in that rut.

Challenge yourself on a daily basis to learn, grow and step outside your comfort zone. You’ll come out of 2015 a strong and well-rounded person.

 

Don’t let fear dictate decisions.
I tend to be adventurous. I grew up in a military family and get an itch (all too often) to go somewhere and try new things. Sometimes though, the fear of the unknown still gets in my way. The older I get (I know, I know) the more I have to resist the urge to over rationalize. Dreams don’t happen when you over rationalize or succumb to fear.

In 2015, resist the urge to let fear and over rationalization dictate your decisions. Trust your gut, throw caution to the wind and follow your heart. Dreams won’t come true if you let fear dictate what you do.

 

Take the time to understand work style.
The past year I learned a lot about my work style. I figured out I am more introverted and work better when I have time to think through things / brainstorm, and then collaborate (if this sounds like you, I highly recommend the book Quiet). This year I want to continue to learn about my own style and also others around me. I want to focus on emotional intelligence. 

In 2015, take the time to figure out how you work best. Don’t be afraid to communicate it with your manger. Everyone works different and there’s nothing wrong with that. In fact, leadership should embrace it because it will lead to happier and more productive employees. On the other side, be sure you understand how your coworkers and team work best too. It all goes both ways.

Interested in improving your emotional intelligence? Here are four great strategies from Harvard Business Review.

 

Don’t be discouraged by closed doors.
I’ve been fortunate to have great jobs that I enjoy. Even still, I’ve heard “no” from things I really wanted. Not everything is going to work out the way you want.

With each “no” though, I took it as an opportunity to learn and grow. Why didn’t it workout? What do I need to improve on? How can I keep the door ajar, instead of closed completely?

In 2015, don’t allow the doors that don’t open to discourage you. Find a way to turn the negative into a positive and keep pushing forward. Just because a door doesn’t open right away, doesn’t mean it won’t eventually. Persevere and keep on keeping on.

 

Be open.
I love the sports industry and my long-term career goals are certainly tied to it. That said, I’ve learned quickly there’s also a lot to learn from stepping (even slightly) outside the industry. It’s up to you to make the most of where you are and apply what you’ve learned to your long-term career goals. I want to remain open, while still keeping my eye on my dreams and goals.

If a door open that peaks your interest, don’t be afraid to pursue it… even if it’s not exactly the path you imagined. There’s something to be said about gaining different experiences; it’s up to you to figure out how you can apply it to your jobs down the road. The biggest thing is this: Keep on learning.

 

Make the most of this digital world.
I’ve said this many times now, but I’m so thankful for Twitter. The platform has connected me to so many bright people in the industry. It takes work to keep up with the it all, but it’s work that is worth keeping up with in 2015.

In the New Year, take advantage of all this digital world has to offer. There are so many people willing to connect and share their knowledge without expecting anything in return. If you aren’t maximizing this ability to build relationships, start now. The digital world is full of knowledge right at our fingertips. It’s a very cool thing.

 

Take relationships offline.
As much as I love the digital space, there is something about connecting in person. 140 characters simply can’t replace a real conversation. I know I don’t bridge my online connections offline enough. In 2015, I want it to be a priority. I want to meet the people I admire in the industry and put an actual face to the people I tweet with.

In 2015, if you find yourself traveling for work or pleasure, find one person in the industry that you admire you can connect with. A conversation over coffee could lead to a new mentor, new opportunity or a new idea.

 

Keep learning.
One of the things I love about the social / digital industry is that it keeps me on my toes. You are never done soaking up information because the landscape is always changing. Sometimes though, I get so caught up in our industry that I don’t take a step back to focus on other things that I want to learn (that will make me a better employee). In 2015, I want to make learning a priority… on both the social front and other areas.

No matter where you are in your career, you should never stop learning. In 2015, make professional growth a priority. What do you want to learn? Where do you want to improve? Remember that it’s never too late to learn something new.

 

Show gratitude and thanks.
We live in a world that is always on the go. It’s so important to stop and take the time to thank your coworkers, mentors, bosses, former colleagues or anyone else that has helped you along the way. In 2015, I want to show more gratitude and thanks… on a daily basis.

A simple “thank you” for those who have helped you along the way, offered advice or pulled a lot of weight on a project can go a long way. Be gracious.

 


 

With the New Year ahead of us, what do you want to focus on professionally? Share with us below.

Thanks for reading!