Talking-To vs. Talking-At Your Social Media Audience

Talking-To vs. Talking-At Your Social Media Audience.

A GREAT BLOG ON SOCIAL MEDIA DO’S & DONT’s Courtesy of nick martin



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The concept that a message has to be tailored for the medium it’s delivered through isn’t new for marketers, yet somehow when the concept is applied to social media so many of us come up a little short.

It’s intuitive to most that a television ad should be different than a radio ad, a magazine ad should differ from digital display and so on because people use each channel differently. It’s the reason why video ads in digital are shorter than TV ads (lower audience captivity) and the best mobile ads take a persons location into account. Yet somehow, the same logic is not applied when applied to social.


This morning I was scrolling through my Facebook news feed which is comprised of a smattering of friends, a few brands I’ve by chance ‘Liked’ in my 8 years of being a Facebook user, and of course Farmville requests.

For the most part the feed flows fairly well. People are sharing experiences, opinions, and ideas in the form of pictures, links (though that’s occurring less and less), and short status updates. The experience is nice. Until a brand update slithers it’s way into my feed and stand in stark contrast to the dialogue I’m having with my friends. Rather than adding value to my day and my news feed, the brands that I’ve complemented with a ‘Like’ are abusing their position by trying to get me to do something for them. You’ve seen the update: Try a demo of X, use a coupon for Y etc.

Don’t they know I haven’t had my morning coffee yet? The disruption feels a bit like sitting around the breakfast table with family and friends when a sales person doesn’t bother to knock and walks in the front door – it’s invasive. To make it worse, the language and content they’re sharing doesn’t jive with how my friends and I are engaging. Please spare us the endless links and banner ads re-purposed as a wall photo.


Your goal should be to add value to your audience’s online experience. Understanding why they followed you in the first place and fitting within the dialogue of their network will allow you activate and grow a loyal following who will be primed to pay attention to your message. Here are a few questions you should be asking yourself when planning content for your social presence:

Marketers must balance their own objectives with the customer experience when engaging via social media.

  • Am I adding value to myself or my audience? If there isn’t an overlap between customer experience and your own objectives you should reassess your content strategy.

  • Is my audience communicating with each other this way? Is your audience heavily sharing memes to socialize around a topic or idea? Once you get a feel for how they are engaging online, you should conform accordingly.

  • Why did they follow in the first place? Some may follow hoping for deals, others for the inside track on your product or a channel for support, or perhaps they believe in the values or benefits your brand drives dialogue around, but have yet to purchase. Depending on what kind of strategy you decide to take on, realize that you will grow or shrink each of those segments depending on what you decide to post. If you’reMacy’s, social promotion might make a lot of sense if you can commit to offering deals. That same strategy probably won’t work for higher-risk (more expensive) products.

In a nutshell, just like with any other communication channel it’s important to understand the rules and norms that dictate how to craft your message. Otherwise, you’ll end up feeling like you’re shouting into an empty room.

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