Talk the Walk: Stand in Your Target Audience’s Shoes

Posted By on May 17, 2013

pair of shoes in sepia

If you want to find the pinch point between what your target audience wants to hear and what you have to say, try on their shoes and walk around for a while. Photo copyright 2013 Cynthia Hartwig

Guest blogger Michael Shilling writes for Microsoft’s MSN Music and now for Two Pens. Welcome Michael! He is the author of the novel Rock Bottom (Little, Brown and Company, 2009) and numerous short stories.

Communicating is about connecting, yet the number one mistake that social media content producers and creators make is that they treat themselves, not their readers, as their audience. They use jargon only they understand, make references only they will get, and speak in a voice that is clever for clever’s sake. Ultimately, they look inward, not outward, connecting only with themselves and missing out on countless opportunities to grow their brand, their products, their bottom line.

Yes, that’s the pep talk. Now, here are a few questions to entertain and pass along to the people in charge of your social media to get your company audience-centric:

1. What Does Your Audience Want and Need?

Every company has a story, and at the heart of that story lies the audience. Exxon doesn’t sell gasoline – it sells mobility and travel. Microsoft doesn’t sell software – it sells productivity and innovation. In other words, these companies take the tangible product or service they provide and turn it into a broader desire or concept that they can illustrate in narratives, case studies, anecdotes that together tell a larger tale that will appeal to their audience. So, when you’re creating your social media content, ask yourself how you can render that same alchemy. How does what you provide make your audience’s life easier, funner, better?

2. What Doesn’t Your audience Know About your Company that will Surprise and Interest Them and Keep Them Coming Back?

You’re immersed in your company. You live it and breathe it. Your audience? Not so much. But when creating social media, content professionals often assume all kinds of information, knowledge, and perspectives that their audience does not yet have. Chances are high they don’t know most of the things about your company that you take for granted. Brainstorm and think about how you can tell them about all the great aspects of your company in a way that tells stories, entertains, and builds a sense that what you do is indispensable to their lives.

Remember, social media is about reaching out to your audience, not looking inward. Think in an audience-centric way, and customers will send thank-you notes–in the form of following you.