Social Media Best Practices: How to Serve Audience Interests



This is part of a little series of posts about blogs, social media and search best practices.

The article deals with “topical categorization” for social media audiences and beyond.

In essence the post is not just about categories you assign or topics you choose.

It’s mainly about the interests of your audience and how you serve them.

In a way you have to put the right content into the right container.

You don’t want the warm winter coats get sent to hot central Africa.

How to Serve Different Audiences the Matching Content

Ask yourself when creating and popularizing content on your site:

  • What are your faithful visitors interested in?
  • What do searchers look for?
  • What do you want casual social media visitors to discover?

As you probably know social media can be a great source of valuable traffic when you know how to use it.

A key factor in making people visit your site, stay there, and appreciate your content is the audience interest you choose to cater to.

You want to offer the right content for the right people, not just getting “huge traffic” and annoying 90% of them.

Thus you want to match audience and content by deciding upfront what and how to write.

Dealing With Too Many Choices

The Web and social media in particular offer an overwhelmingly large number of content choices.

I’ve used the Web since 1997 and over the years the sheer number of content pieces trying to get your attention has been ever growing. One of the best ways to deal with that onslaught is to only look for certain topics.

Audiences are often interested in one specific topic or a few at best.

This is the more true for business users. Some will only care for UX, others only read about ecommerce, many just look for content on SEO.

When dealing with too many choices most people just limit their number by simply narrowing the scope of content they are looking at. Categorize yourself accordingly and you’ll be seen. Otherwise nobody will even venture beyond your headline.

In this short post I want to advise bloggers, social media and search marketers on categories they can use for their posts to and why.

The 7 best fitting audience interests are:

  1. Marketing
  2. Business
  3. Writing
  4. Blogging
  5. Search
  6. Web development
  7. Internet

Social Media = TV

Social media (unlike search) is similar to TV. People do not know what they are looking for yet and thus they want to discover it. Like on TV they only choose specific channels:

  • CNN for news
  • Discovery Channel for science
  • Disney for kids

Social media often works like a TV set. When you serve marketing topics on the discovery channel or at CNN people will frown upon you.

When you say “marketing” in general you will get significantly less traffic per se. Most people do not like marketing and are not interested in it. They may mistake it for ads altogether.

For business users marketing is already a way too broad category. You want to decide upfront which specific marketing category you are talking about.

Do not treat social media like TV in the sense of broadcasting though. This is common mistake!

Real Life Examples

When the post is covering strictly SEO decide whether you write for the micro-niche of SEO experts right from the start:

SEO Techniques for Rocking the Holidays

Remember that your audience is comprised of SEO people then. Why? You start with the SEO acronym only a few people get.

When you are after a larger audience, think marketers in general, small business owners or online shoppers and create content accordingly.

A post like “Why Twitter is So Important for Small Business” could fit in “small business” category, but may try to write for an even wider audience. It still ha snot the biggest traffic potential though as Twitter is not everybody’s cup of tea.

How to Improve Your Writing Without Additional Tools

This is a Copyblogger-type of post. It’s helpful advice for all kinds of creative people. You can reach a more general audience of writers and bloggers.

Remember though, also people interested in writing books read it. Writing advice is not just about blogging then. You get a larger audience potentially but make sure to deliver.

Private Search: How Can You Protect Yourself Online from Unwanted Looks?

You can describe “how to search” when you write about search engine optimization for an audience of end users not just website owners or optimizers.

Here the audience is a little smaller than in “writing” and “marketing”, but there are more people interested in search than blogging e.g.

A post about ten ways to tweak your website to make it more suitable for search engine spiders fits in “Web development”. You can get quite a big audience here that is not only comprised of people who already work in search.

Beware of the Wrong Topics!

Now beware though! People will hate you for wasting their time once you get too popular.

You may get thousands of visitors but also get lots of negative feedback when you lure general audiences – who are not interested in a very specific topic – to your content.

Be both as specific as needed and as general as possible.

Ask yourself before writing ideally or at least before posting and sharing on social media:

  • Is my post topic really relevant for the Internet as a whole?
  • Does it matter to all business people or even small business owners?
  • Is it just written for a small expert audience like online marketers?

The first choice would be an article about internet technology. The second option is about small business and the third deals with online marketing.

Thus you have a mainstream audience, a niche audience and a micro-niche audience you address respectively.

You can’t always make all of the above audiences happy and trying would dilute the message. Make sure to choose upfront!

* Creative Commons image by Maersk Line