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! 

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