Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Shift time, access and place to reach your social media audience

When it comes to social media, you may have put the key in the ignition, and even started the engine. But are you still in park--or driving in the wrong gear--on the road to reaching your audience? Shifting may be necessary in order to get where your audience is: the driver's seat.  Check out these examples of shifts in time, access and place as a guide to where you should be headed next:

Time shift: Your convenient time is not mine

I hope you've moved beyond just collecting Facebook fans to engaging them. In how to improve engagement on your brand's Facebook page, you'll find that businesses in many sectors are posting during business hours--but not getting lots of engagement. Why? Many users' time to play with Facebook happens at other times of day, and those times see far more engagement. Here's just one example: "Auto brands see the most engagement on Sundays, but less than 8% of posts go out on that day." The data presented come from a statistical analysis of Facebook wall posts conducted by Buddy Media. Other observers suggest the same for Twitter, noting that tweeting later in the day and later in the week, as well as on weekends, is more effective.

How can you change your post times to reflect your audience's preferred engagement time? If this is a big shift in your schedules, start small with a pilot project to observe and track when your audiences engage most.

Access shift: Let me into that exclusive space

In What could you gain by being radically open? on the Mixtape Communications blog, you'll find a thoughtful look at how the once-exclusive TED conference went from a high-priced 1,000-person event to a worldwide platform with volunteer translators, daily share-able videos with transcripts and spin-off events organized by volunteers around the world. Zan McColloch-Lussier notes that opening up your exclusive candy store requires you to share your goals--with an eye to making them inspiring as well as inclusive:
TED would have had a harder time finding passionate supporters if there goal was ‘bringing lectures to your computer’ instead of ‘sharing ideas worth spreading.’ Think about how you frame your goals so that they inspire.

Here's the speech in which you learn from the inside how TED evolved from conference to platform. Watch this and keep in mind something that's exclusive now at your company or organization--an archive, a conference, a private data analysis--and how you might take it from private to platform:

Place shift: Meet me on the battlefield

One of the most dramatic shifts for organizations that publish: It's no longer about publishing a report in one place and then distributing it, but more about publishing in many places, so you're where the audience is likely to find you. That might mean publishing your reports or materials as Kindle Singles (even if they're free), so people can find them on Amazon; publishing them on Facebook as long "notes;" and using other options.

Here, in a Communications Network video, German Marshall Fund communications director Will Bohlen describes how GMF uses Scribd, a social publishing site, to share its publications with a wider audience. It's a strategy that integrates targeted email distribution, web publication, Twitter and Facebook to bring the reports to the audience. A plus: Scribd will give you data on the audience using your materials, and you can hear Bohlen share some of GMF's data in the video:

Reach New Audiences with Scribd from Communications Network on Vimeo.

Related posts: Is your social strategy shifting along with your audience?

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