Where’s your audience? and four other content strategy questions for designers
When you talk about your agency’s online brand, is it something like, “Did we post on Twitter today?” Or “What hashtag should we use?” How about “How many followers do we have?” and “Should we redo our website?”
If so, stop.
An agency’s digital message is more than followers and hashtags. There are many reasons why an agency needs a content strategy to establish a brand presence. Ask these core questions when creating your digital messaging.
Where is our audience?
Your message won’t spread if no one wants to hear, like, and share it.
Promote your agency through digital and social media according to your audience, not digital innovation (i.e., the coolest new app). It will keep you loyal to your business strategy when you drop the new hotness, ensuring that your audience will still want to engage.
Do your homework. Ask your customers if they’re on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or LinkedIn. Then connect with them on those platforms. See what they’re doing. Find out what content they like and post more of it. Like and share their content. They’ll like you for it and will be more likely to be loyal to your brand.
Engaging on digital and social platforms with the wrong audience is annoying for everyone involved. Remember MySpace band pages? Send too many messages to someone that doesn’t care, and they’ll tell people they don’t like you. No good.
Who is our audience?
Agencies use personas to help define client audiences every day. All praise Alan Cooper for inventing personas to solve communication problems with clients and improving workflows for more accurate content delivery.
But have you developed personas for your agency to speak to? Agencies are just like any business: They have a unique audience. For example, consider the different audiences of an ad agency with medical and government clients versus a digital product development agency.
Get to know your followers, clients, and audience. They’re who your personas should emulate. Ask your clients questions about what they like, what they don’t like, and what they want more of. All feedback is good feedback. Embrace the bad comments with the good to help increase content performance next time.
You get it. Research your audience.
How does our audience talk?
It can be difficult for a New Yorker to land a client in Arkansas if they speak with a Brooklyn accent.
It’s true. Change your digital voice, style, and tone to fit your audience. You can’t engage them if they don’t relate to you and the way you interact. Be genuine and empathetic.
For example, if your clients are startups, don’t be too formal. They won’t like or follow you. Even if they do, you may lose their attention to someone else who walks the walk.
Your company culture and voice should align with your audience. Remember that your digital message is not about you or your business. It’s about your audience.
What does our audience like?
Studying what your followers like means walking a fine line. Connect with them genuinely but don’t creep.
Social media provides tons of info about user likes without the creep factor. Find out what interests you and your followers have in common. Engage in digital communities where they are. They’ll notice.
Learn what content your followers like. Tailor your strategy and digital message. Then create content how they want to consume it: pictures, videos, news, quippy Tweets, and so on.
You can also just pay attention to which posts get the most likes. Do more of those.
Proactively review your analytics as a team instead of just scrambling to put out fires. Find out which content visitors are spending the most time with. How does link performance stand up against different content?
Invite your clients, colleagues, and friends to visit your website. Ask them what they like most about your website. What do they like the least? Is there any language that doesn’t sound right?
Genuinely listen, take notes, make improvements, publish, and repeat.
Can our clients trust us?
It doesn’t really matter what content you publish, as long as it’s relevant to your audience. Just make your messaging honest, consistent, and on-target.
Don’t ask what happens when you’re not honest on the internet. Always, repeat, always tell the truth online. But there’s more to a client’s trust in your digital message than simply telling the truth.
Don’t post a bunch of content only to stop when you get a big client. If you’re getting followers excited, congrats! But never leave them hanging. If they stop believing they’ll get the same positive experience with you, they’ll stop following what you have to say.
Communicate the same way, every time, no matter what. Website copy should sound and read the same as social media messaging. Everything you publish shouldn’t match exactly, of course — you do have to be aware of the needs of different platforms. But your followers should make the brand connection. People want to hear, see, and feel consistency when they engage with you online. So make sure they do.
Fail to deliver, and they’ll wonder if you know what your own message is. Do it twice, and they’re gone. It takes so much effort to get them back.
Always be consistent, flexible, and meaningful. Most of all, be a genuinely fun agency and show the world who you are!