Archive for April, 2011

When is an audience not an audience?

Posted in social media with tags on April 13, 2011 by wisdomlondon

When we talk about marketing activity, we often talk about our audience as a means of ensuring relevance and effectiveness.  But in social media, it’s a slightly misleading term.  Here’s why….

It’s easy to assume that because a Twitter account has 5, 000 followers, there’s an audience of 5,000. Or that a group (on Facebook or LinkedIn, for example) with 400 members means an audience of 400. But that’s a hopeful, bordering on lazy, view.

Social media essentially means a tide of information and updates coming at us across devices and you only have to look at how you consume this content yourself to know that a good deal of it is ignored, deleted or muted without a second glance.

So how do you measure audience more meaningfully? I’d venture the view that engagement is a critical measurement tool – after all, it’s only when an individual engages on some level that we can truly call them an audience. It’s been said to me recently that engagement is a meaningless term used by social media people – I say it’s the true meaning of audience. Of course, we can’t measure everything, so some assumptions have to be made about the number of people who engage on the quiet – without interacting, responding or sharing. But it’s fair to say that your follower counts are not representative of your active audience.

So here are my rules of thumb:

  • Don’t get hung up on the numbers, because they are not entirely representative
  • And therefore, don’t rest on your laurels because you’ve hit the magic  1, 000, 2, 000 or 10, 000
  • Go back to analytics every time – knowing where, how and when people have taken action is what really counts
  • Think of your follower count as ‘potential audience’ and then look to how you increase the proportion of that figure to become ‘engaged audience’ – that’s where the numbers truly mean something

Now go and get yourselves a standing ovation…

Kate Spiers is a director at Wisdom London, a communications consultancy with a pragmatic approach to social media.

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