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I spoke to the head of a government agency a month ago about creating a social media program. It was his firm conviction that you need to have a specific audience and goals in mind to start a social media program.
Is this correct?
I’ve always struggled with the concept of a specific audience as a prerequisite to creating a social presence. On first blush, it’s obvious that you have to have groups and goals in mind.
But when we created our social media program of radio, television, blogs and transcripts back in 2006, it was equally obvious that we were completely unaware of what the impact would be. Sure, we had goals and people in mind “but” social is an evolving and ever-changing process.
Every organization will create social strategies and products to meet the expiations of their audience and their efforts will be unique and different from their peers. They will learn and change through engagements over time. They will also discover new audiences and unexpected results.
We never expected:
We never expected that Congressional staffers would embrace our products “or” that employees would deeply appreciate our including them in what we create “or” that partners and media would immerse themselves in a radio or television show before contacting us “or” that social would give us the capacity to respond instantly to an issue “or” that critics would soften their views after participating in our products.
What we experienced was unexpected and “if” we focused on specific groups with a set agenda I’m not sure if we would have been as successful as we are.
So what are we supposed to do?
Create great content.
The emphasis on targeted groups and a specific message only works if you are conducting a formal media campaign where you have the money to create a research-specific message and buy media ads that reach unique groups.
That’s not social media.
If you truly listen to your audience and create media that respects learning styles (some like to read, some prefer watching, some like to listen) and you make it interesting and enjoyable then you open your organization to a world of unexpected possibilities and engagements.
Experiment, be bold and try new and different strategies. Understand that social is not Facebook or Twitter but content creation.
Social media is exploding and creating creative opportunities for every organization. It’s fine to have specific audiences and goals in mind when starting. But leave room for creativity and experimentation that brings in new audiences and opportunities.
Social is the ultimate in communications flexibility. Don’t chain yourself to a one-dimensional view of social and your audience.
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