When it comes to digital marketing, everyone wants to know what they should/shouldn’t do to get their brands out there. On the shouldn’t side, the biggest mistake brands make is talking too much about themselves – forgetting that it’s called social listening for a reason.

Remember your manners

When I see great brands and companies overly focused on making sure their message gets out there, I realize they aren’t clued in to how social networks have changed the marketing game.

Social media isn’t “just another way” for brands to tell consumers everything that makes them great. Social media is a landscape governed by social users, not brands. It’s like a huge party you’ve been grudgingly invited to – you can easily wear out your welcome.

Every social user is like your host – which means you should walk in with warmth, gratitude, and an interest in catching up. Ever been to a party with someone who is loud, obnoxious, and makes it all about them? How psyched were you to leave, knowing you’d never have to listen to them again?

You don’t want consumers on social looking at your brand that way. To avoid that, you’ve got to take the approach of a savvy plus-one, and get to know your “hosts” – so later they’ll rave about how great you are to the person who brought you.

It’s really a combination of common courtesy “creating a one-on-one relationship” with consumers who are weary of old-school marketing techniques like email blasts and coupons.

Instead of talking about why they should like you, it’s more important to make your messaging about them instead.

So how do you do that?

Putting the right tools to work for you

To learn what to deliver and when, you need tools like NetBase’s Audience 3D™[LINK] , which can break your audience into segments of consumer types who defy demographic logic. By not assuming you know who’s into your brand, you open the door to audiences you’d never have considered.

Instead of corralling all women ages 25-34 in one bracket, you find anyone talking about your   brand and find out what else they like. Let’s say the women talking about your cosmetics brand are also talking about fitness, meditation, travel, and rescue dogs. What you want to know is who else is talking about these things? Are they potential customers who fell outside the age-range you explored? And what else are they talking about? How do you reach this audience you never realized was out there?

Always you want talk to consumers about the things they are passionate about. Even though your brand is cosmetics, you want the conversation to be about fitness, medication, travel and rescue dogs. When you make each of these a different segment you can speak to each segment personally. That’s much better than a general announcement about your latest sale, which will be tuned out by all but your die-hard followers.

And even your die-hards shouldn’t be taken for granted. If they’re not helping by amplifying your messaging, you’re not connecting with them deeply enough. They need to feel seen, and special. Audience marketing and a personalized approach will do that.

What else do brands need to learn?

Understanding consumers should drive everything brands and marketers do now. To that end it’s important to know how they feel about your competitors as well as your brand, or how they feel about your industry overall. If you’re Cover Girl, you need to know what Maybelline and Revlon are doing, and you need to know what up-and-coming brands consumers are falling in love with too.

You also need to look at conversations about beauty, make-up, skin care, etc. – because consumers may talk about these things without ever mentioning any brand. Social listening gives you the opportunity to connect with anyone you can reasonably believe is part of your audience. Brands must learn not to prejudge, and let social data lead them.

And it might require learning a new language or two. If a consumer says your brand is “on fleek” do you know what that means? Is it good or bad? (It’s good, FYI – it essentially means “on point“). And how about emojis? They’re a language of their own – one that social listening tools can decipher even if you can’t. That’s worth the price of admission right there.

The point is, brands and marketers need to take a step back and listen instead of speaking. Posting over and over about your brand, hoping the masses are paying attention, is wasted effort on your part – and can even hurt you as annoyed consumers unfollow you. Posting targeted, personalized messaging to the right audiences at the right time, on the other hand? That’s going to make you a lot of friends.

Connect with the bright minds at NetBase to learn more about the subtleties of social audience marketing.

Image from Norm4nNorm4l

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