Social media gives us an entryway to fans and consumers. But even with the access, social media managers can't just sell, shout "me" and make it all about the product or company. People want to interact with brands the way they do every other person on social-through a personal and authentic relationship. Here's what I've learned... social media is less about the platforms and more about the way we communicate to build those relationships. As crazy as it sounds, a big key to success lies in tapping into psychology. You have to know your audience.
I managed the NCAA Wrestling (Twitter, Facebook) platforms over two years and through it I came to understand how important the psychology behind the work we do actually is. It was my job to think, act and talk like a wrestler.
Being authentic on the wrestling platforms was trying at first. I've never wrestled. In fact, I had never been to a wrestling meet or had any interaction with the sport before diving into the community. Because of this, I had to take the time to talk with people who are engrained in the sport, understand the demographics and study content success.
Wrestling taught me the important role psychology plays in social media, and for that, I'm thankful. I saw some success in the community because I could answer the fundamental questions below about my audience. It is my hope that the questions below are helpful for you too:
1. What are the basic demographics?
This one isn't rocket science, but before you can dive into deeper questions you need to have an understanding of your current audience and the ones you are trying to reach. Not understanding target demographics is like playing darts without a bull's eye.
2. If you built a fan persona, what would it look like?
After you have the basic demographics down, dig deeper. Take the time to build a persona(s) of your fan(s). Knowing who they are and what makes them tick will guide everything you do. Never built a persona? Here's a good how-to guide.
3. How do they consume?
When you work in social media, you can't get bogged down with all the platforms. Instead, you have to focus on the ones that will help you reach your audience. There are tons of social media statistics out there about how fans like to consume information based on demographics. Lean on this information and your own research (combination is key) to understand how they like to consume.
If you are armed with the right demographic information (target or current), you can make more sound decisions about which platforms to activate on and how.
4. How do they talk?
It is important to use the conversational language of your fans, while being on brand. I preach this all the time, but throw out the stiff copy and tweets that read like an ad.Establish your voice.
Because I knew my audience skewed younger and largely male on NCAA wrestling,I tried to use words like boom, sweet and sick. Sometimes, Urban Dictionary was my best friend. I don't use these words in my daily vocabulary, but it's not about me. In fact, one of the biggest compliments someone could give me on the wrestling platforms is to think that I'm a guy.
A good social media manager doesn't have to have experience in the subject matter; they know how to do their research, build personas, adapt and be creative. Take the time to study how your audience talks, and then use their language when crafting copy. In order to humanize a brand you have to be conversational and speak the language of your fans.
5. Why do they care?
If you understand why your audience cares, then you understand why they are coming to your platforms. This will help you grasp the type of content they are looking for.
With NCAA wrestling, the answer to this question was pretty simple... most of the audience cares because they have participated (or are participating) in the sport at some level. I had some fans that care very specifically about college wrestling itself, but most cared very broadly about the sport. Because of that, I knew that my content had to be a combination of NCAA-related posts and generic wrestling posts.
6. What connects them?
After you have connected the dots above, there's a good chance you'll realize you have a couple different audiences. In order to bring your community together, you need to find the common thread. What connects them?
For the NCAA wrestling community, I learned that the common thread was simply the love of the sport and the emotional connection they have to it. Because of that, I try to use phrases like "our sport" and tap into emotion. The posts that connect those dots often get the most traction.
So, when you feel like you are in a content / community rut, take the time to step back and evaluate what you are doing. Make sure you tap into the minds of your audience. Make your work resonate. Build the relationships your fans and consumers want... an authentic one. Bottom line, use the questions above to think, speak and act like your fans.
Photo courtesty of AskEHBL.