A guide to building a digital strategy: Part four

Last week I left you with the challenge of getting your content strategy right, and this week we look at the challenges of creating audiences online.

This is not a one-blog topic – so part four will be broken down into a number of posts to guide you.

Audience, audience engagement, online communities, blogger engagement, social outreach are terms bandied around in marketing briefs today far too easily. It takes me back to when I was once asked to send something viral, like there was a big red button on the wall I could just press!

Whether you are a big or small organisation, creating audiences and building them in to communities is a necessity but also not an easy task. So get set for some critical challenges and insights into how you can endeavour to drive some results.

Part four (a): Finding the audience to build


Use standard online marketing tactics:

  • Provide great web and mobile content, ensuring you answer the age old question of “what’s in it for me?” so you present your benefit and the value exchange you are offering upfront.
  • Support this with common online marketing tactics; search and social media.

Top Tip: Be findable and tell them why.

The Clever Stuff

There is an art, a psychology to tapping into human behaviour that will deliver a quality audience, a participant who will go on to engage.

This is where recommendation forms a critical part of your planning. One person’s connections and interests will draw another person in (people like me …are like people like me).

Top Tip: Marketing to one costs less than marketing to 100.

It is important to find a small audience set that will advocate and bring the audience with them. This is marketing to one person to reach 100, a bottom up paradigm from traditional marketing models.

Top Tip: Less is more to create large engaged audiences.

Magic of the 3 C’s

A recommendation audience recruitment strategy is worth more than an advertising strategy (Research shows 78% of us trust information from our peers, compared to 17% whom trust advertising). That said, it’s not about any old peer recommendation, those that exert more influence have certain characteristics. They are 3 C’s – connected, credible and charismatic and are people who are regularly referred to as offering category related opinion and advice.

The impact of data collection and social media on finding these people is that we can identify the participants who fit those criteria via the company’s database or via online networks. However, don’t be swayed by “top 100 blogger” lists and big Twitter followers. We are looking for a specific subset of people that exactly fit your criteria. This is done using behavioural profiling of opinion leaders as “target buyers who frequently offer or are elicited for category-related advice”:

  • Self Designation (opinion leader scales*)
  • Key Informant
  • Professional Activity
  • Digital Trace
  • Sociometry

*Opinion Leader Scale

Top Tip: Find your 3 C’s recommenders.

Once you find them, you will be surprised how happy they are to engage and advocate for you, because if you have done your homework correctly, they will be the exact 3 C’s you need to find.

They will be the starting point to building your audience.

Next stage is giving your 3 C’s great content to share and exclusive insights to engage their peers to kick start building an engaged online audience and participatory community.

Top Tip: Think strategically over the whole life cycle of the audience engagement, not just an initial grab of numbers. Quality is more important than quantity.

Any questions, post here or get in touch with me.

More next week on building audiences and communities online.

Fi Bendall is the managing director of digital and interactive consultancy company Bendalls Group. With over 20 years’ experience, Bendall has worked with global brands including BBC and Virgin, and is an expert in how businesses can approach strategy in the digital world. You can follow her on Twitter at @FiBendall, and can contact her through Bendalls Group.



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