It can get pretty lonely without an audience. That’s why our primary social media service is audience development. Audience development is central to every successful social media marketing plan because if no one is listening, what’s the point? On social media it’s all about the audience!
Audience development centres around activities that answer questions such as: who should be targeted? How? Are there people, groups, or other types of targets (there are many) that should be pursued, poked, pawed, nurtured, nudged or even blocked by form of engagement?
Audience Development is the number one priority of any effective social media marketing effort.
A popular measure of success of social media marketing plans is how many net new followers are gained during a given period. We use the term “net new follower” because some existing followers will leave (not everyone is expected to stick around forever) which creates a situation where a brand must make up for the lost followers. With well managed accounts, this so-called “churn” rate is low because the audience is a good fit with the brand. And vice versa.
We wrote software to take the drudgery out of audience development
Audience development can be difficult. It takes time. For starters, many days of the week are irrelevant. For example, if it’s Friday at 5pm you can can jump up and down and give away free hamburgers but still no one will follow you.
To identify the right audience for your product or service requires skill. Or skilled software. And there is no guarantee your efforts will pay off. That’s because you cannot force someone to follow you.
That’s why we developed our own software. It was the only way and still it’s not perfect. But it sure is a lot better than the commercial products out there and miles better than doing it manually.
To attract an audience, brands must be smart and creative.
It takes more than posting content an audience enjoys. It also takes strategic timing and a slew of other attention-getting techniques. These include techniques such as as liking a target’s posts, commenting in a target’s non-domiciled chain, following a target’s target and many other ways that can be used to earn an audience member.
Developing an audience happens one target at a time.
To demonstrate the importance of audience development, we ran a test.
We published the same content using two similar Twitter accounts. We actively managed the audience on one account and ignored the other.
Here is the 28 day performance for the account we ignored:
Above: In 28 days the ignored account gained 81 followers. What is interesting to note is the number of Profile visits. Profile visits conveys a key insight into how much active audience development is taking place. With only 85 profile visits (down 53%), it is obvious that very little audience development occurred during the 28 days. Profile visits provide insight because new followers and prospects usually look at the user’s profile first before deciding to follow.
Now let’s take a look at the second, actively managed account:
Above: In the 28 day period, profile visits are over 2000. This is a clear sign of active audience development. Net new followers is 386; not a great number but given the holiday season it still represents 4 times more than the ignored account. Now, this comparison is not completely fair because the ignored account has far fewer followers, but trust us when we say that had we actively managed the smaller account, it would have far exceeded the new followers of the mature sky alphabet account. This is because smaller Twitter accounts tend to attract new followers faster.
Low churn accounts give the audience what they want: no reason to leave or unfollow.
Monthly and quarterly periods are the most common duration to measure net new followers and associated churn. With professionally managed accounts net new followers should always be positive; there should never be a “down period” unless the account is inactive or it is a holiday when people have time to use an unfollower app. Hacking or a software glitch are also common reasons why followers leave.
Some publicly available audience development APIs have been known to exhibit strange behaviour, the riskiest of which is unfollowing followers!
It is important to keep a close eye on audiences because they are a tangible asset of the brand. For this and other reasons, measuring net new followers and other audience characteristics becomes increasingly important as the audience of a brand develops.
Sure, we can argue about the value of a follower, but we can agree that under most circumstances a Twitter or Instagram account with 200 followers is worth less than an account with 6,000 followers. One attempt to value a follower was done by Crispin Porter + Bogusky in its infamous Whopper Sacrifice campaign that involved giving people a hamburger (37 cents) for unfollowing someone on Facebook. In 2016, the value of a Selena Gomez social media post was deemed to be $550,000 when the post appeared across Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
Audience Development versus No Audience Development
We see social media agencies launching influencer campaigns using Twitter and Instagram accounts with 200 followers. Unless those 200 followers are all precise matches with the campaign’s objectives, allocating resources on such an approach is a questionable investment.
In one important respect, social media is comparable with traditional media (TV, Radio, Print) in that it offers vast reach. This is another way of saying that most people in Canada and the US use at least one form of social media. Many people use several (Twitter, Instagram, Facebook).
The problem isn’t a lack of audience. The challenge is to find them and then persuade them to stick around at scale.
Enumerating followers begins with understanding your audience.
The better a brand understands its audience — who listens, who engages, who is active on another platform, who recently joined, who recently departed — the better the brand is positioned to improve its communications and relationship with current and prospective customers.
All of the social media platforms provide meaningful insight into the mix and consistency of an audience. We use Twitter to demonstrate what off-the-shelf benchmarks are available. There is no need to augment this data with third-party sources; any free Twitter account provide this level of granularity.
It is advisable to track as many components as possible at least once per month in a formal KPI reporting document. this includes 30 and 90 day impressions, net new followers, and other engagement metrics.
Twitter provides a number of metrics to understand the composition of a brand’s audience.
We take advantage of the free data Twitter provides by using software to improve the most desirable aspects of an identified audience.
Twitter’s audience is particularly desirable because of the education and earning profile of the average Twitter user.
The Twitter Audience
The following metrics are available to any Twitter user, free of charge. Brands can also use third-party products such as Followerwonk to gain additional insights that are helpful to strengthening an audience.
Education and home ownership
Interests, Lifestyle and Behaviour
Net Worth and Occupation
Maximizing reach through audience development
With so much raw data available about audiences, many brands develop goals associated with growing the depth and concentration of various audiences within a stated range or demographic perimeter.
Sky Alphabet has developed its own software — known internally as MAGnet — that quickly identifies and acquires the identification of target audiences.
Our first goal is to sort through the hundreds of thousands of potential followers to understand what users are most likely to become long-term fans of the brand?
We’ll get your audience turned on to what you have to offer. We’re pretty sure no one else can do it faster than we can.
5 star review for our Audience Development product:
I wasn’t originally a big fan Twitter. Now I recognize the value of its audience and the power of its reach. That’s because Sky Alphabet showed me exactly how we could turn our Twitter account into a major marketing asset. Steve did exactly what he said he would do: build a strong and growing community and create a full messaging program that would position us as leaders in a competitive space. Everything he said would happen has happened – and more. We get a detailed monthly report that shows us the progress we’re making and I look forward to seeing the results each month. Now we’re excited about what’s happening at our company because our online brand reflects who we really are. We didn’t think we would ever be believers in Twitter, but Sky Alphabet converted us!” (David, President, Western Media Group).
The price of our audience development services vary by market capitalization and audience size, but for most TSX listed clients is $$ out of $$$$$.
Coming soon: Why is your PR firm doing your social media?