With the government, association and nonprofit websites I’ve assisted, the lesson seems to be that we seek one audience and often get another.
There is something wonderfully democratic about the Internet. Virtually all web experts will tell you that you are almost obligated to go where your audience wants you to go.
This is both a blessing and a curse. You set out to engage special education teachers and administrators and you end up with patents of special education pupils.
You reach out to social science experts and you get people interested in every social cause on the face of the earth.
Even when you find targeted audiences on sites like a Facebook they are often more interested in Farmville and off-topic social issues.
You get my drift; the Internet is filled with people and places who have a marginal interest in your “primary” topics yet they go to your site and engage.
You are undoubtedly aware that the web-savvy Internet audience skews younger and better educated (this is changing). At the same time, your targeted audience is older administrators still catching up with the tech world.
What to Do?
First, engage people and their issues as they are. Unless you run a banner announcement that only special education administrators need apply (that would be an association-not a website or blog) you are obligated to take all comers. That’s the essence of social media.
You engage everyone because it’s in your best interest to do so. Somewhere along the line, they may become supporters or donors or members of your association or cause. Like all marketing efforts, only 4 to 6 percent will meaningfully engage.
But if you’re getting a thousand page hits a day and 500 are individual requestors, that’s 25 people a day (every day) who will meaningfully engage and return back to your site multiple times (a web marketer’s dream).
That number can build into something significant.
The Internet world rarely goes as planned and you “did” invite them into your house (site). Treat them as you would any other guest. They just may stay and be supporters.
And for those who do not meaningfully engage, move on. No one’s obligated to respond to mean of off-topic messages.