Do you remember “The Silent Majority”? While the phrase has been around for a very long time, it was popularized by Richard Nixon in 1969 in a speech, and also referred to by journalist Theodore White as the “mute masses.” In a different context, this phrase also represents the voices you hear (or don’t…) on social media. Research shows that almost 90% of what you hear there comes from less than 30% of the most vocal users….and they are different from the the quieter folks that make up the bulk of your online audience.
Don’t mistake quiet for uncaring or irrelevant. They may not be hyper-active or even visible on social media, but they are likely some of your biggest fans. There’s much more to sharing your content and referrals to your business than a Facebook Like. These folks may very well be sharing your story via less visible channels like text messages, email, and word of mouth.
Mark Schaefer identifies a rare breed called the Alpha Audience. He defines them as “the fervent supporters who you can rely on day-in and day-out for support, ignition, and action…” Finding more of these champions for your business is a journey that can really boost your growth.
The last 100 years of broadcast advertising are finally rolling back a bit. The older general store culture that fueled business relationships for centuries is showing its face once more. The relationship type values of trust, loyalty, honor, service, and reputation are important again because our customers are telling us that they are important to them. It’s your content that provides a connection point in the digital world and fans those relational sparks.
Edison Research‘s recent study showed that 57% of American social media users follow a brand on Facebook for no other reason than they have an affinity for the company. The same study shows that a third of social media users purchase more from a brand after they begin to follow them on a social media account. A study commissioned by Google discovered that people who engaged with a brand on social media on a daily basis were likely to make twice as many purchases from that brand than someone who engages once a month. And that’s just the purchases! Fans who connect from frequently also readily acts as advocates for the company….unpaid evangelists, if you will.
How can you get them to visit more frequently? Well, great content does not magically draw audiences. Publication is not disruption. Without an audience development plan, your content marketing strategy isn’t much of a strategy. Growing your audience is hard work. Each piece of primo content you create helps. You have to create content with your “proprietary audience” and action in mind.
In his book Audience, Jeffrey Rohrs lists three reasons why this idea has been glossed over:
- The concept of proprietary audiences is new. This used to be your direct mail database. Now these folks are all over the place: online and offline in private and public channels
- We’re typically focused on channel management instead of audience development. So many of us have Facebook, Twitter or even Digital Strategies, but no real Proprietary Audience Development Strategies. So we talk about publication best practices and “Best Times to Tweet” but never nail down strategic priorities to hit business goals.
- Channels are still evolving. The channel-level support for proprietary audiences where you can derive meaningful measurements are still not quite there. As a result, you get more anecdotal stories and fewer pie charts to prove the value of the efforts.
This proprietary audience is your “reliable reach” (a Hat Tip to Jay Baer for that term!) for your content. You can know that, when you hit the PUBLISH button, these are the folks that are likely to read, share and act on what you create. They raised their hand and asked for it!
Here are some terrific resources to help you take your research into your proprietary audience to the next level:
- The Content Code by Mark Schaefer
- Youtility – Why Smart Marketing Is about Help Not Hype by Jay Baer
- Audience by Jeffrey Rohrs
So go take some time and figure out where these wonderful people are and connect!