Today, though, much of our marketing efforts are backwards. We think a channel such as Facebook will deliver an audience, but a channel merely delivers a message to an audience we have already built. Your audience is a critical asset, and social media can help you build an invested proprietary audience — people who give you permission to market to them.
Building a proprietary audience
We have three types of marketing media at our disposal: paid (advertisements, affiliate marketing or anything you pay for to reach an audience), owned (website, social media channels, catalogues, blog, email), and earned (mentions, shares, reviews, feature articles, guest blogs). Social media marketing is a hybrid of all three. Your proprietary audience—the fans who opt in to follow you—resides mostly in the owned media sector. But we must remember one thing about proprietary audience members: they are not owned, and they can leave at any time.
In his book Audience, Jeffrey Rohrs says we fail to develop an audience because we are focused on channel development; we have channel strategies but not audience strategies. Rohrs implores readers to embrace what he calls “the audience imperative:”
“Use your paid, owned, and earned media not only to sell in the short term, but also to increase the size, engagement, and value of your proprietary audience over the long term.”
Your media, whether it is an email newsletter, Facebook page or website, needs to include a long-term strategy of audience-building. Our biggest mistake comes in plotting short-term marketing strategies only. In order to survive in the long run, your marketing needs both short- and long-term strategies. Building an audience is a sustainable practice, an ongoing labour of love.
One audience… many faces
Your proprietary audience is made up of parts, or segments of people. They have different motivations for being there, different buying habits, and are in need of different information. In his book, Rohrs labels these segments seekers, amplifiers and joiners:
Seekers are looking for something of personal interest. You gain them by giving them the kind of relevant content that answers their questions or meets their needs. They are usually not ready for personal contact. They are seeking information at this stage, not connection.
Amplifiers are looking for content as well, but for their own audiences. They will magnify the reach of your content by sharing it with a motive of gaining credibility or helping their own audience. These are often reporters, influencers, reviewers, curators and advocates.
Joiners are your most valuable asset, according to Rohrs. They are the foundation of your audience because they respond to your calls to action whether it is subscribe, follow, pin, register, join or buy. They willingly give up their personal information for value. They volunteer to be marketed to.
All these audiences crave one common thing: relevant content. Reach them with the right message at the right time, delivered on the right channel that meets a personal need.
The right message
Make sure your content includes messages to all segments of your audience. If you only address the joiners, you will lose the seekers. Publish a variety of content types aimed at each audience, being sensitive to the amount of selling you do.
The right message also needs to be engaging. Make a habit of reading online articles about the types of content that appeal to social media fans on various channels. Remember, though: it’s not about what you like; it’s about giving your audience relevant content.
You can use calls to action in every type of message. Just remember that seekers are only looking for information, so a call to action for them may just be a link to click on. The more you give them, the likelier it is they will take the next step to sharing.
Messages have to add value to be relevant. Rohrs suggests implementing these five “Red Velvet” principles with audiences:
Serve the individual. Marketing is about customer service.
Honor their unique preferences.
Deliver them timely, relevant content that makes their lives better.
Surprise them with unexpected access. Take down the rope that holds them back.