We talk a lot about the “New Media Rules,” but there are some rules that will never change, because they are rooted in human nature. One of the most important old rules is timeless: Know your audience.
With all the excitement over the media options open to us today, it’s easy to focus exclusively on the media we use without paying much attention to such questions as:
- Are we talking to the right people — that is, the people who can buy our products or help our clients? If not, why are we talking? When I see “social media gurus” bragging about their thousands of followers, my first question is, “Who are they?” Some claim they know, but the truth is that hardly anybody with more than a few followers has any idea who they really are. Numbers mean very little if you’re not reaching the right people.
- Are we using the right medium? A while back, I heard about a social media marketing firm that was charging a company substantial fees for posting company news to its Facebook fan page. The fan page had a total of seven fans. They were literally talking to nobody. On the other hand, if you’ve consciously built up a Facebook friends list of people in your industry or customer base, you may have an effective tool for carrying on conversations with people who are important to you, your career, your employer or your client.
- Do we know what we’re after? I subscribe to the “behavioral school” of communications that believes you haven’t communicated until you’ve changed someone’s behavior. It doesn’t matter whether you want people to buy a product, write their congressman or eat less fat. If they do something different as a result of what you’ve communicated, you’ve succeeded.
By all means, learn about the new vehicles available and see how they can work for you. But do yourself a favor and remember that the greatest medium in the world won’t do you any good if you’re talking to the wrong people.