Engaging Audiences on social – what you already know

September 16, 2020 | Category: Alternative thinking

Google ‘audience engagement’ now.

You will be assaulted by more opinion than you could ever take on, let alone come up with coherent insight. I apologise for adding to the list.  My aim here is to offer a positive perspective to ‘traditional’ media people; whatever the platform, whatever the brand, you already know the fundamentals of how to engage audiences.

A recent webinar presentation by a senior Canadian Facebook representative focused on the ways to create an engaged fan base. His target markets are Brands and consumer products that have a presence on social media.  His key themes about engaging audiences on Facebook are identical to those used by successful traditional and broadcast media.

I am constantly fascinated when reading articles and blog posts about social media of how the fundamentals of winning audiences, and turning them into fans, is the same on social media as it is on traditional and broadcast media.

What is different however, is the explosion of distribution and devices.

So, why is it that so many media companies put less strategic thinking into their audience engagement on social media and at times even less on their own websites?

I expect much is down to a ROI. The return on investment is accepted to be much lower in comparison to the Broadcast platform or it’s seen as a marketing or PR function.

Whatever the reason, the good news is that successful broadcast media already know the fundamentals of audience engagement. World class Editors, Executive Producers, Programme Directors all know how to engage audiences via their Newspaper, Radio and TV channels.  It’s now about employing these skills with those of Marketing and Communications into your social platforms.  The first thing to do is to understand your social media objective.

It’s an obvious point but worth reiterating. One of your objectives must be to turn your social audiences into fans who will share what your brand does so as to grow your reach.

Most organisations measure success as how many ‘likes’ your Facebook page has, or the number of Twitter followers. As we find out about phantom followers, the smart thinking is on quality of audience as opposed to mere size.  A brand that targets young mums may not want to promote users from gaming sites where audiences are younger males. Wastage is well understood by marketers and something content/editorial people must always remember.

Understand what it is that the audience likes about your brand. What is it they appreciate about you? In the case of a broad based television channel, it may have a lot to do with TV show formats. For Format/theme channels on TV or Radio, or personality driven shows, the principle is the same.  Use that insight to build great content and create emotional connections.

Most of us are not sociologists.  A little research and empathy with human nature will help tap into the fundamental reasons why people share. In the case of Facebook (and other social media tools) sharing is Liking, Commenting and creating Content about your brand.

From their own user research, Facebook offers brands the following practical intelligence about why people share content. I’d argue these are social behaviours that Facebook have articulated well.

1)    To make life easier –“ which city should I visit” or “what do friends think of this deal”

2)    To build relationships – William posted his running achievement so I ‘liked’ his post. Interesting insight; I may not ‘like’ running but wanted to acknowledge William thereby building a bond and relationship.

3)    To help others – Sharing my experience at that store will help others.

4)    To shape our own individuality – In the physical world, clothes we wear, the car we drive , or places we go says something about us.  So does what we share, ie the radio station we listen to, TV shows we watch, music we consume.

It’s only when you marry your brand (social) content with the existing social behaviours can you get audiences sharing your brand.

Learning the Analytics

Real-time analytics are an amazing tool for content makers. Never before have we been able to measure so much.  Great content makers skilfully take the data and create great insight that can be used to shape future engagement.  In a previous role where I led the launch of a new channel brand across TV, Radio online and social, the content directors keenly reviewed the social engagement measures as much as ratings. They saw them as lead indicators to future ratings.

My premise is that smart content executives from traditional media understand the fundamentals of engaging with audiences. The key is to actively apply that understanding to social media platforms.

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