Growing an Online Audience

This week, Vice President of Marketing Strategy Rob Bean at Burns Marketing hosted a webinar called “Building Online Audiences.” The webinar addressed how to cultivate and maintain an audience that can discover information about products and services digitally without a brand’s help.

Since publics can research products and services at will, Bean says it’s important to focus on how the brand’s products and services are delivered. This is key because this is where the organization has an opportunity to form a positive, long-lasting relationship with that consumer.

Another key strategy is to expand a company’s audience by limiting it. Bean advises stop trying to attract everyone and start deliberately jettisoning audience segments because, as Joe Pulizzi of the Content Marketing Institute has said, “If your content is for everybody, it’s for nobody.”

In order to narrow the audience, Bean suggests defining and characterizing what audience an organization doesn’t want first before determining what groups the organization does want. Once the audience has been determined, Bean advises gathering data about the audience and focus on the audience’s needs and goals — not their demographics — to define the audience’s persona. By understanding the values and opinions of the audience, the brand is able to better serve them.

Bean’s final piece advice is to win the Internet with a digital media strategy. Content marketing isn’t just about an organization’s content, it’s about getting that content seen. “Risk is the price of entry and change is the natural state,” Bean says.

To effectively execute this, Bean suggests picking a digital medium, learning about it, creating a plan to use it that best serves the organization and audience’s needs, then go for it.

When designing a marketing or communication plan for digital media, Bean also suggests partnering with another organization in a “piggyback” campaign, like Home Depot and Habitat For Humanity or Nike and Michael Jordan.

Do you agree or disagree with Bean’s suggestions for cultivating an audience? Do you have any other tips from personal experience? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below!
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4 Responses to Growing an Online Audience

  1. Kimberly Linn says:

    This article has some excellent tips for my client. The Forte Group is preparing to build new and more effective social media platforms. One of our goals is to increase the Southwest Vocal Projects online presence; this includes their own website, Facebook, Twitter and Sound Cloud.

    The only problem with the tip to pick one digital media and focus in on it is a little unrealistic. Today’s fast pace communication does not make it realistic for a company to only focus on mastering one social media platform at a time. For our client we are, luckily, going to be using social media platforms most of us are fairly familiar with already.

  2. Taylor Holmes says:

    I agree with Bean’s suggestions about audiences. I really liked the point about limiting targeted audiences to create the most effective messages. I think that oftentimes many companies are overwhelmed by the vast audience that social media presents. By looking at audiences in a strategic, segmented manner, the online community becomes much more manageable.

  3. Margaret Staniforth says:

    I would be open to trying Rob Bean’s advice to name the audiences my client does not want to attract before deciding on a target audience. Understanding the target audience is crucial to branding and relationship building and knowing who not to target could be helpful. However, I am concerned for the people and groups that companies choose not to reach out to. The people and groups that brands choose to exclude could feel discriminated against or unappreciated. How can a company use this technique for the purpose of better understanding their own audiences without making others feel like outcasts?

  4. Connor Johnson says:

    I definitely agree with Joe Pulizzi. Instead of heading to one outlet for information on a variety of topics, I find that my online viewing habits lead me to visit numerous websites and other media outlets for specific types of information.

    This is something that our group (Peak PR) is trying to illustrate to our client, SABR. They seem to want to do a large number of different things relating to baseball, but there are already different outlets that do specific things better than them. Our group is trying very hard to get them to narrow their focus somewhat, so maybe I will suggest this post to them! Great work on this post, Aubrey.

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