After reading the first key to smo success, we know the importance of choosing and targeting your social media audience. The key thing we needed to remember is that the best audience for your social media strategy is not always who you think it is. If you didn’t read the first key, it might help to go back to the link above. .
Once you have finished unlocking the first key, choosing and targeting your audience you should get right onto the second key for social media optimization success- understanding your targeted audience. There are black hat, white hat and gray hat techniques to doing this. Agencies doing full service social marketing will often use gray hat techniques. Brands can be themselves so they’re white hat. People that don’t take the time to understand SMO or make a genuine connection are just spammy and black hats. Black hat doesn’t work for SMO. Keep reading to see what I mean.
Now that you know who you want to target from Key 1 of this series, you should now get a fundamental understanding of this audience. Owyan of Altimer group puts this key in step 2 of his Social Strategy Trilogy – creating your strategy plan. Step two in that trilogy is extremely vague so I break it down as it has applied to my SMO process for clients in real life.
What you get from reading:
After reading this article you will be able to explain and apply key two to understanding your social audience and you will have tips and insight that will give you a tremendous competitive advantage to your competitor using social media. I will give you the three critical elements of understanding this audience. These are tips that no one tells you- instead they just group this step into one and call it “listening or monitoring.” However, I give you tips on how to do this better than any competitor.
Why this step is Key
Most just jump right in and go back and wonder why their efforts are not working or sometimes they jump right in and their efforts, time, and resources are not being utilized as properly as they should be. Whether their efforts are working or not, one thing is for certain: their efforts could achieve better results following a strategy like the keys I’m giving you now. No one should have to do more work than they have to and my goal here is to give you the keys right now so that you don’t waste time, resources, money, and more. Essentially, I don’t want you or anyone I work with to send their troops into battle before they’re ready.
Understanding your Targeted Audience for SMO – aka Think as They Think
In new projects once I’ve figured out who I am going to target for SMO, I figure out how to get inside their minds to understand how they think, make decision, use the internet, and more. Create a persona to take on this project. This persona will become essentially your targeted audience and ideally a key influences in your targeted audience. While creating persona profiles is frowned upon, it is sometimes necessary when taking on new projects or clients. If you are managing your reputation or brand, do not take on a persona- be yourself.
You think this is common sense, right? In order to appeal to someone else you have to think as they think. Unfortunately, a lot of marketers forget this because they’re so focused on trying to connect they forget what it actually is that will connect them. On what basis are you forming a connection?
Most SMO practitioners will define this step as “listening”. I define this step as “understanding” or as I think of it, getting insight their heads and thinking as they think, using the social technologies as they use them, communicating as they communicate.
Taking this listening step to a whole new level and changing the way you think of it will give you a huge leg up in the competition. Here is the advice that no one will tell you about “listening” to your audience.
Here are the 3 keys to gaining a huge strategic advantage on this “Listening” step for social media:
1. Follow the key influencers in the targeted audience. Figure out who they are and follow them using every tool you can. Use twitter, facebook, reader, friendfeed, linkedin, and anything else you can find that they are using socially.
- Value added tip: Do not be a creeper here. Don’t stalk, don’t Facebook friend or connect on linkedin to people that you have to connection to. Use your best judgement. Put yourself in their shows and ask, “if I was Cathy Consumer would I be creeped out by my random friend request or connection request?”
2. Read what they read – subscribe to their feedreeders if possible, read the links they’re posing, and read anything else you can get your hands on that they’re reading (without being a creeper), subscribe to their blogs and read even more.
- Value added tip: Sometimes it is helpful to start bookmarking these things. Use the social bookmarking site of your choice, create a fake persona for the project and start bookmarking what you find for this project’s audience. You may also want to set up a Google reader account for the persona to organize everything you’re reading- this will come in handy for social search SMO strategies in Google later down the road.
3. Understand how they exchange information – this is key to getting into their minds so you can make better connections. Knowing how this audience communicates and understanding how and why they share info is critical to SMO and optimizing the message and conversation you want to craft.
- Value added tip: following them on their networks (again, without being creepy or annoying) is one way to gain insight here. If you can swing it, marketing reports will give you some great data and information onto their general sharing patterns and the technology they use to communicate. Look at their language, vocab, sentence structure, emphasis on grammatical correctness. If your target social audience is teenagers or college kids and you are 30 something- this may be a more important thing for you. Teenagers can smell a social marketer from miles away – especially a 30 something social marketer who hasn’t taken the time to walk the walk and talk the talk.
Understanding your social audience and beginning to think as they think will give you a tremendous competitive advantage and save you a ton of time and effort. Taking the time to get inside your audiences head and think as they think will not only help you build better connections with these people, but leverage these connections and make them work for you. This is how smart companies are able to grow themselves with little effort. Please use the three elements of Understanding your Social Media Audience above and take time to use the value added tips.