Let’s be clear. You’re not my audience.
We have a relationship here, and you can talk back. Further, I realize that I am just one of you, all members of the same community.
I’m just lucky enough to have you come here now and again, and read my posts.
The miracle of social media empowers this very public symbiotic relationship of equals.
It’s also why communicators who call their stakeholders audiences drive me crazy.
I first espoused this anti-audience view when I wrote Now Is Gone, and in many ways my views of social media marketing have become much more conservative. There’s still one aspect that I firmly believe: People are not audiences anymore.
Communicators without Audiences
The perspective of messaging towards audiences offers a self centered attitude. It’s also a bad strategy. Audience assumes a position of authority over customers, and that a brand has captive attention just waiting for a performance.
No one wakes up and wants to be marketed to by tons companies and nonprofits throughout their day. It’s something most people endure.
People are audiences when they pay to attend an event, when they volunteer to receive a performance.
Further, when people want to listen to communicators in such a setting, it’s usually because of a relevant need. For example, a customer happens to be in the market for the car.
Only the most powerful brands like Apple have the power to command attention at will, and only with their loyalists. This ability to deliver a top-down strategy of messaging to audiences requires years of earning the right from customers to opt-in to your marketing performance.
Don’t forget, an audience can get up and leave. It can boo a terrible performer, too.
99% of marketers aren’t good enough to even put themselves in the performers class.
If you serve a performance, customers are going to know you’re insincere and might even throw it back in your face. More likely, they will just ignore your message and resent you for delivering it.
Start serving stakeholders, and get off the stage.
OK, the virtual chicken wire is up. What do you think?