Navigating an Audience Strategy in the Evolving Digital Landscape
By Jenny & Nikki Fancy
The current average human attention span is 8 seconds (to put that in perspective, the average attention span of a goldfish is 9 seconds-- yes, Google it). Think about your last 24 hours. How many profiles did you visit, videos did you consume, posts did you like? How much time did you really spend on each?
In a world with an ever-evolving digital landscape and a decreasing attention span, it is important to be at the forefront of the frequent platform changes and experiment with new ways to reach your audience. The digital stratosphere is extremely saturated and releasing new products and content mediums, daily-- so how do you crack the code for cutting through the noise? Digital’s newest crush is “live” programming (i.e. Facebook Live, Snapchat, Instagram Stories). But why should your business care about utilizing this new feature and others that are released these social platforms, on what feels like a weekly basis?
New businesses and established businesses alike understand that content publishing is important for reaching, engaging, and maintaining an audience; but the most common question we get is, “where do I start?” With so many ways to engage an audience, it can be overwhelming to choose where to invest your content and marketing budgets most wisely.
We believe that building an audience doesn’t need to be a scary venture for your business. Below, we list 3 key pieces of advice that we give our clients when it comes to leaping into “live” content programming. However, these tips can be applied to your overall content strategy and help you develop a mindset to tackle whatever “next new thing” hits the market.
1. Know Your Friends (and Foes)
- Get to know your audience. You wouldn’t launch a product without doing market research first. Digital content is no different. We recommend utilizing a blend of platform analytic tools (i.e. Facebook Insights, YouTube CMS) and community feedback. How did the community respond to your previously released content? Which content did they like, share the most, watch for the longest period of time? Read your comments: what are people saying? Did they love the series you just released or hate it? These insights will help you develop a strategy that appeals to your current audience and serves as a guide when launching new formats and series.
- Who do you want to reach? If you don’t currently have an audience, or you are looking to reach a new one, it’s important to get inside the mind of your target consumer. Create an audience profile: how old are they? What music do they listen to? Who are their favorite influencers and celebrities? Why do they want to buy my product/consume my content? Understanding your target audience’s interests and motivations will help you develop content and strategies to effectively reach them.
- Know your competition. It is important to have a thorough understanding of the landscape before investing in your content business. What can you offer your consumer that your competition can’t? How can you benefit and learn from your competitions’ successes and failures?
2. Be Prepared
- Set Goals. Understanding the purpose of your venture into any new content strategy is key. There are many metrics for success, so setting realistic goals and establishing important KPIs for your business is a great way to get started. Perhaps you are most focused on utilizing your social audience to increase transactions, or growing your followers quickly to prepare for a product or series launch. Is it more important for your business to develop audience growth for investors or brands, or to increase brand loyalty through engagement? All of the above? These are crucial questions to answer before developing your content offering.
- Set Expectations. When it comes to launching content (“live” or otherwise), it’s not enough to be a passive participant. Building an audience requires an investment in time, money and resources in order to develop and execute a strategy that effectively reaches and impacts an audience. Although social distributors have made “going live” as easy as pressing a button, it is important to understand that successful content takes planning and adjusting. Rome wasn’t built in a day.
- Streamline. Find creative ways to execute your “live” content strategy. Create formats that you can easily execute or are adjacent to your other content. BuzzFeed, for example, does a great job of creating content that aligns with their “how-to” and “wonderment” editorial. We’re sure you’ve see the “Exploding Watermelon” by now (one of Facebook Live’s great successes, peaking at around 800,000 viewers at the same time) – this a great example of incorporating the brand’s voice into “live.” If you are on set filming something else, can you capture a live stream utilizing the resources from the same shoot? Do you have a daily office tradition that can be captured and utilized as a “live” format? For those shooting on-the-go, we suggest investing in a mini-production kit (including items like a handheld, ring light and microphone) to make sure your video, lighting, and sound quality are always taken care of.
3. Test, Rinse, Repeat
- Pilot. Use features like Live to create engaging, low cost content. This is a great way to “pilot” formats that you are considering investing in without blindly sinking your budget into an untested series. It’s also important to pilot the new features that your utilized distribution platforms roll out. Utilizing new features allows you to gain more information about your audience and understand what tools you have access to. Additionally, platforms tend to favor promotion of content that utilizes their new features. For example, Instagram Live has implemented push notifications for their “live” feature. Think of this as free marketing.
- Pivot. Adjust based on feedback and do what ultimately aligns with your brand and goals. Test everything, but be thoughtful where you’re investing time and money. Understand what your audience is most engaged with and how they most enjoy consuming your content. Focus on that. Don’t worry about one failed piece of content, and don’t try to fit a square peg in a round hole.
Ultimately, these points can apply to any element of your content business. Whether diving into live, developing a new photo format, or launching a video series, utilizing new features and mediums will only help your brand exposure. And, if nothing else, you’ll learn something new about yourself and your audience.
Embrace the change, and you won’t be left behind.