Engage With Your Audience in the Smartest Way Possible

By Dave Tan, VP, Content Solutions

I am sure many of the readers of this blog are aware of the recent Skittles.com experiment. There has been a decent amount of industry coverage regarding the topic, and certainly there are many different viewpoints about if the campaign was successful or not over the past week or so. However, the major theme that I see through this exercise is that another major brand created a way/venue/mechanism for their audience to actively participate alongside the brand. Even though some digital strategists may say that Skittles went too aggressively into the social space by allowing their website to be completely replaced by a rotation program of twitter, facebook and Wikipedia pages, kudos to them and all the rest of the companies that are trying this! As a consumer, being able to show your brand loyalty and engage directly with the brand is a wonderful thing.

That being said, there are many other companies and brands that aren’t playing in this space yet. As brands start to strategize on social campaigns and projects, more work has to be done up front. Specifically, brands need to truly understand their audiences, how they interact with the brand, and how that brand can interact online with the audience. It is not as simple as starting up an unmoderated blog, a facebook profile, or a myspace page. It takes clear identification of the objective, the audience, and ultimately what the online activity is. Brands need to be able to fully answer questions like the ones that follow.

  • Who are your online targets?
  • Are they different than your offline targets?
  • What are they doing online?
  • Where are they online?
  • What social networks are they already going to?
  • What are they doing online?
  • What need are they fulfilling through interacted with your brand online?
  • What information are they sharing?
  • What is the ultimate objective your brand wants to fulfill for these audiences online?

Answering these questions and many more can help pave the way to authentic interactions with your audience. My own experiences in the social arena certainly have been varied, but the major element in the successes has to do with knowing the audience as best as possible. For the forays that weren’t successful, it was due to having too broad of a target (the whole news consuming internet), or not enough up-front research on the specific online audiences and how they wanted to engage with the brand. So think carefully through your audience and how you can utilize this exciting arena, and then start planning!


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