Inbound Marketing: When the Audience sets the Tone

There all these amazing books on the market about how to use social media, how to plan your social media strategy, social media for dummies, social media – engage! etc. They provide the basics you need to understand about inbound marketing. Here is a little read to inspire you if you are about to set up your own social media campaign. It targets some of the main lessons about using Twitter & Co.

The focal point is that inbound marketing, unlike outbound marketing (billboard, TV and radio ads etc.), earns people’s interest. This kind of marketing assumes that audiences are active and find one’s campaign/company/social media channel because they WANT to. Inbound marketing must generate VALUE in order to be successful.

Where to begin?

Yes, Facebook is a must now, also because everyone uses it, and Pinterest is becoming more popular and Twitter is obligatory and a blog also may be worth looking into. Nevertheless, it should be clear that wild setting up of all social media accounts, unstructured posting and random tweeting won’t get you anywhere but waste time and money. As with every campaign you will have goals and certain aims. Ask yourself what you want to achieve. Then breathe in. Then draw a proper plan.

An example: You want to enhance your image as the leading brand within the industry. Therefore you want to become the opinion leader within your industry – perhaps on one particular and relevant issue. Therefore you must become the dialogue leader on that issue (or industry) on the web. If people search for the issue (or industry), your name will pop up.

Make yourself aware of keywords and use them for your dialogue (cf. SEO) across various channels. Hashtags are also great to put emphasis on key topics and to create a buzz around themes and position yourself within.

Which channels suit your purpose? Research, research, research! You may want to come up with channels nobody in your industry uses yet or with an innovative way to use an ordinary channel in a novel or extraordinary way. Be creative but be careful. Again, bear your goals in mind and your audience. Don’t just do something because it seems innovative but because it will really generate value for your audience (this can be information and entertainment, or best it is both). People will be more likely to share it with others, and thus, your content goes viral, reaching out to a much greater audience.

Remember that an inbound marketing campaign is not about you but about your audience. You want to gain their interest and participation rather than advertise your brand like a market crier. Hardly anybody is buying advertising anymore in 2013. Offer your audience valuable content such as information, advise, help, support and entertainment, which they can share with their social network.

When planning your audience attracting campaign, swop the perspective. Put yourself in your target audience’s shoes, be empathetic and learn about them. You want them to be your friends and followers, so you must be “one of them”. The great thing about social media is that corporate accounts are not any higher in hierarchy than individuals. Individuals and corporations now talk at eye level and on a much more personal level. So leave the self-adulation aside and get talking straight, person to person rather than big anonymous corporation to small run-of-the-mill guy. All social media users (that includes companies) talk with each other. The customer is king.

This gets us to the main point of creating a successful social media strategy: DIALOGUE, which basically involves two things:

1. Listen

Dialogue – just like in any offline conversation – involves LISTENING. Any social media book will tell you that you should not simply set up your accounts and spam followers or play the market crier. Listen first, then listen again. You want to get a feeling for what your followers and potential followers are “talking” about, what interests them and what amuses/outrages/…grabs them. You want to get a feeling for the audience. 

2. Engage

To maintain dialogue, don’t talk AT followers, talk WITH them (or they will turn away from you). Encourage followers’ participation. For this you really need to be creative. With the average social media user following over 100 sites and digesting around 247 advertising images a day, it is quite self-explanatory that “stick out from the crowd” is the mantra. The human brain cannot process that much information and will filter out the majority of messages.

Bringing together knowing your audience and being creative when planning your social media campaign are the keys to social media success. The key to master the two certainly is to change the perspective. The audience is king and setting the tone (not the advertising gurus from Mad Man). Ask who is my audience and what do they really want?

Also, once you master the dialogue successfully, it will help you sense trends, behavioural changes and opinions. You will be on top of things. By maintaining dialogue and listening you will know what bugs your friends and followers, what grabs them, entertains them and attracts them. With inbound marketing we can say that there is a shift from sheer output (or outcry) to input. We now get fed back timely and precise audience comments, opinions and reactions, and thus, can tailor our services and products much better.

Still think that social media is overrated? Any thoughts? Please drop a comment.

Planning your own social media strategy? Ask any questions.

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2 thoughts on “Inbound Marketing: When the Audience sets the Tone

  1. I really get stuck when I encounter all these book titles. I do not know which one is the right one to read. So, thanks for the article. It is very informative.

    1. Thanks, Iva. I agree that there is a massive amount of books out there. Some focus on planning a social media campaign, others on measuring success and others again outline why social media matters at all. The one that inspired me to this post is called “Unleash The Power of Social Media Marketing” by Joe Praveen Sequeira. I like that it focused on the audience’s perspective and was written in a very down to earth way without the cyberspace talk and terms some social media experts come up with.

      Having read a few books on social media I was always left with the same result: Engage and Dialogue matters the most.

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