Last night, I watched a documentary on the Foo Fighters called Back and Forth that chronicled the band’s journey from formation to present day. I’m a pretty big fan of the band and especially appreciate the energy and unique approach that Dave Grohl takes on things from songwriting to performance. At one point in the documentary, Grohl talks about having a riff for a song but not having a tempo. What he did next was simple — and pure genius. Knowing that European audiences like to “bounce” to songs, he jumped up and down to find a tempo that would motivate such bouncing. When the band played the song for the first time on stage, the audience responded exactly as Grohl had desired. There were thousands of people bouncing in time to the song to which Grohl responded, “It worked, let’s keep it!”
The lesson learned here is “know your audience”, or your market, as the case may be. As an eCommerce company, knowing your audience may seem obvious, but are you paying attention to what makes them bounce? And by “bounce”, I’m not referring to the analytics term of how often they leave your site. Rather, I’m referring to the mix of communication and offers that keep your market responding to, and interested in, what you have to offer. How do you know what that mix is? Experiment, analyze and experiment again. To better understand and communicate with your market, use the tools available to manage campaigns and incorporate social media. There are a lot of options that could be considered:
- Have a Facebook page and interact with your “audience”. You will learn a lot here, but you have to allow them to interact with your company and brand. This means allowing fans to post comments, videos and links. This also means that someone has to actually respond to the fans. If you invite fans to a virtual arena, make sure you show up with the band and interact with your fans.
- Send brief updates to your brand’s followers through Twitter, Facebook and Google+ updates. Unless your brand has rock-star status, however, broadcasting every fleeting thought may land you in a special place for the annoying and noisy. On the other hand, saying too little can lead your follows to believe you actually have, well, very little to say.
- Publish video content on YouTube and encourage video responses. You’d be amazed at how creative your audience is and how they can contribute to the overall reach of a campaign. Post links to, or better yet embed, the video on your site’s product page.
- Use social media management tools like HootSuite and Tweetdeck to effectively create and manage campaigns across a variety of social media outlets. It is possible now to manage a social media campaign across multiple Twitter accounts, multiple Facebook profiles and pages, WordPress, Myspace, Linked In, FourSquare — and the list keeps growing. It’s also quite useful to teams that manage multiple campaigns and to individuals that want to get messages out to their audiences over a period of time by planning communication in advance. Show visitors to your site a list of tweets that are related to your company and your product lines.
- Publish a blog about things going on with your brand, interviews with brand enthusiasts, product reviews, new product announcements, etc. Tie the posts in with related content on your site and encourage community feedback and participation.
So now there are all these avenues and tools available to reach your audience, but how do you make them respond? Back to experimentation, careful analysis of the results and another experiment. Your audience’s requirements will change as fast, or faster, than the technology you use to communicate with them. It’s also important to realize that effective communication is a very individual thing. How you communicate with someone who is an aficionado of your brand can be (and probably should be) entirely different from how you communicate with someone just being introduced to your brand.
This goes beyond personalization of content. What I’m talking about here is frequency and context. For example, if every time I logged into Pandora or Spotify I heard only Foo Fighters music, I’d eventually stop logging in. Not that I suddenly don’t like the music, but you reach a point where over-communication becomes such an annoyance that drastic actions are taken. There is a delicate balance between giving your audience enough to quench their thirst, but little enough to leave them wanting to hear from you more often.
Carefully managed social media campaigns can have great results — and the results are amplified if the social media output is integrated with your eCommerce site. In addition to providing information to folks that are anxiously awaiting the next big thing with your brand, integrating tweets, videos and blog posts with your eCommerce site has been proven to improve SEO and drive more shoppers to your site. Properly done, social media campaigns can help you find what keeps your market “bouncing”. And, in the end, you might say, “It worked, let’s keep it!”