Three things to know before tapping the next trending topic on social

It may capture attention but has the potential to backfire. Focus on these three points to better understand your audience for long term success.

This article was sponsored by Marketo to let readers know about ‘Four Pieces of Social Media Real Estate You Shouldn’t Ignore’. The guide walks you through tactics to make the most of valuable visual spaces on your social profiles.

Attaching your brand to pop culture trends of the day leads to short-term results, as your message gets lost in the noise. As users lose interest and move on, your on-trend brand message becomes old news. And that’s at best.

“At worst, customers will see right through your attempt, knowing you’re trying to capitalise on an important social movement, and you’ll be left trying to convince them you’re not part of a heartless corporate machine,” says Mark Bradley, president of creative agency Bradley and Montgomery.

Narrow your focus to your most loyal supporters. Use social media to consider what they care about, rather than who they are. You can establish a long, lucrative relationship with your audience if you connect your brand to an emotional thread running through them rather than a fleeting fad. Done right, social media marketing allows you to be a part of the conversations that your prospects and customers are having, and participate in the buyer’s journey of exploration and self-education.

It’s easier said than done. Zeroing in on what motivates your customers to get out of bed every day is difficult. Your ideal audience may not even be the end consumer. Think about children’s products. The parents are the intended audience, but the social conversation that draws them in is about the children and the product.

You’re not just marketing to the person, you’re appealing to an idea that will exist for the long haul. Here are three strategies to help use social media to find what makes audience members tick.

1. Pay attention to psychology

There are multiple emotional interests across your audience. Use these to divide up your consumers. Instead of focusing on age, gender or location demographics, pay closer attention to interactions. These are where consumers reveal passions you may not have known about. Different layers of their personalities may emerge on different platforms.

Seek to understand customers not as followers of trends but as multidimensional characters who interact with their own environments.

2. Don’t sell

Customers know you’re selling something, but you can disguise this fact as much as possible and still remain honest in your posts. Your brand’s story is more important than saying what people want to hear. You want to understand your customers’ passions, so don’t be afraid to show them yours. Be upfront about your background, goals, and how your brand is more of a reflection of your organisation than an efficient way to make money.

3. Take a risk

None of these steps guarantee success. The challenge is to continue taking risks. Social media is a great lab to test new material and see what connects with your audience.

Yes, it’d be easier to hijack the latest pop culture trend to gain the most traction from the most people right now. But that does little to establish long-term loyalty. If you use social media to better understand your audience’s interests, the trendiest topic on the internet may soon be your brand!

Want four more ways to optimise your social media strategy? ‘Four Pieces of Social Media Real Estate You Shouldn’t Ignore’ walks through how to utilise valuable visual spaces on your social profiles.

Photo by Barbara Provenzano on Unsplash