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May 28, 2008

Who's In Your Audience or Community?

By Li Evans

Who's in Your Audience?Knowing who's in your audience or your community can save a substantial amount of money, time and other resources when planning out your online marketing strategy.  It's rare to find a substantial amount of users on the internet at the same place in their use of the internet whether its search, social communities or word of mouth.  However if you know the types of audiences there are, and can group them, and know by demographics where they generally fall it can save you a lot of sweat and tears in the long run.

Take for example the demographic of a 35-44 year old woman in the United States.  Do you know where she hangs out?  Do you know what types of communities she participates in, or does she even participate at all?  Does she do a ton of research, looking at ratings and review sites before she makes the decision to buy, or make a reservation?  Doe she actively create blogs, or is she more likely to participate and promote news stories, or be a "tagger" in a social bookmarking community?  If you sold shoes, designer purses, interior decorating supplies, electronic gadgets or had a line of luxury cruises you just might want to figure that out before you spend a ton of money starting a community that this demographic just might not readily participate in, or spending thousands on a PPC campaign they won't pay attention to.

In reading the book Groundswell by Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff, they identify 6 types of audiences with social communities, but when you take into account that there's also search and there's also word of mouth to deal with in online marketing campaigns, there are a lot of other ways you also need to look at an audience. Charlene and Josh identify the Creator, Critic, Collector, Joiner, Spectator and Inactives. By the names alone you can get a feel for the types of participants these classifications are.

As an online marketer who tries to look at all strategies even beyond social media, trying to include and strategize for, you know a true online marketing strategy doesn't just include social media.  An online marketing strategy includes SEO, PPC, Social Media and even Word of Mouth.  With  that in mind there are more segments of an audience to take into account when you begin to strategize.

  • The Audience Members?Brand Evangelists: These people LOVE you.  They love your products, your services, they even love the janitor that cleans your desks at night.  To them, you basically walk on water.  They will tell everyone and anyone how great you are, they gush about how you sent them a Christmas card, and will tattoo your logo on their bicep.

  • Promoters: Almost as loyal as the Brand Evangelist, however, these people promote you and most people listen.  They aren't taken as wild and deranged fans by their friends, when these people talk, their friends listen.  Here's a tip, make your promoters valuable, empower your promoters, by giving them the tools to make their words, more than just words.

  • Co-Creators:  While creators create blogs, websites and even communities that are specific to your brand/product/service, Co-Creators can be just valuable.  These people thrive on being part of a group that helps you make a product better, launch a new product, advise you on new menu items or even helps you co-create marketing. Co-creators can then turn into promoters saying "Hey Mom - Look What I did!" and you know what mom does then, don't you?

  • Researchers:  The members of this segment research everything to the minutest detail.  They can tell you what the pixel ratio is on a monitor, they can tell you how many milligrams of each ingredient makes up your "special sauce", they can tell you what color compounds make up "Leprechaun Green" paint.  These people spend hours pouring over pdf documents they find on the web, or on Wikipedia, or on Britannica or through various government websites that provide tons of data.

  • Got To Have It Now's:  Think "competing with the Jones'" and you've got this audience to the "T".  They see their neighbors with the latest and greatest, and you got it, they got to have it now!  These folks don't research too much, they are mostly likely to be the ones raising your Click Through Rates on Google or Yahoo.  They look for the cheapest, fastest way to get what Bob next door just unpacked and put on his patio.

  • The Pass It On's Like GradmaPass It On's: Think about your mom, or maybe your best friend.  Think about all those emails you get that say "Pass It On", "Don't Break the Chain".  Think about your grandmother saying "Mr. Miller up the way, he just got this new really fast wheelchair, he says it's the best, and I should pass that on to anyone I meet."  Most of the time, these people haven't really interacted with your product, but sometimes they have, but either way, they just feel the need to "pass on" the story.

  • Rabid Detractors:  You've managed to piss these people off someone, someway.  It could have been a snarky customer service operator.  It could have been a slimy salesman.  It could have been your really low quality service or product.  Most likely these people had some pretty high expectations of you and you let them down.  The good thing is, they are letting you know about it, the other good thing is that you have a chance to turn them into a Promoter or a Brand Evangelist.

  • Trolls:  Time Wasters.  These folks, no matter what you do, hate you and try to bring you down at every turn.  It doesn't matter because in their narrow scope of the world, unless the world bows at their feet, they likely hate everyone in it and are only happy when they are causing some kind of drama that pisses someone off.  You'll never turn a troll into promoter or brand evangelist, unfortunately trolls lack the ability not only to love something else, but to find love within themselves.

You AudienceIf you understand the potential of your audience and you understand how to utilize each of these segments (both the ones I've outlined and the one's Charlene and Josh outline in Groundswell), you can actually plan much more successful strategies for your online marketing efforts. This isn't just in Social Media, I'm saying go beyond that and incorporate these into your SEO and PPC and Word of Mouth strategies as well.  If you understand who's in your audience, you'll waste a lot less time on the Trolls and much more time empowering those in your audience who will actually get you a lot further.

*first image credit Dramamath, second image credit Gardinergirl, third image credit robolove3000, fourth image credit Spiderpops


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