Engaging Your Audience


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Earlier this week, I participated in a very engaging panel at the Digiday: Target conference in Beverly Hills. The topic: “Social Media Targeting: How do brands really make friends?” My diverse panel also included Arnie Gullov-Singh of Ad.ly (@arniesingh), Teresa Basich of Radian6 (@teresabasich), Dilip Venkatachari of Compass Labs (@4caffeine) and our awesome moderator, Michael Vos of Appssavvy (@michaelvos). The conference focused on exploring the massive shift from buying content to buying audiences…and naturally our job was to dissect and provide some color on the role of social media in accelerating this shift. In other words, how do we engage the new social customer (aka Customer 2.0), given the control of a company’s brand is rapidly transitioning from corporate marketing departments to the customer-to-customer conversations taking place via social media!

In my experience, whenever people talk about reaching audiences with social media, inevitably the conversation revolves around B2C marketing. B2B organizations have been slower to embrace the growing power of social media. So one of the points I stressed during our panel is that the distinction between B2C and B2B tactics is narrowing considerably. Given the convergence of our business and personal lives – complements of social media – we are fast approaching the nirvana of 1:1 marketing. B2B and B2C are converging into a new paradigm of targeting each and every consumer/customer directly in a targeted way – and a new customer engagement model is emerging: Business-to-Individual (B2I).

However, just talking about targeted engagement is bit like putting the cart before the horse. What happened to the age old wisdom of listening before talking? It is true: social media gives brands (i.e. companies) the opportunity to converse with their audiences (i.e prospects) instead of trying to distract them with interrupt-driven old-school advertizing models. But to properly take advantage of this opportunity, companies first need to really understand what matters to their prospects. They need to listen to their prospects to gain perspective and color on their needs and wants. Engaging today’s socially-savvy customer requires a 360 degree view of the prospect that incorporates recent business events, social conversations as well as social relationships – in other words, social intelligence. And since prospects know that they are dropping so many breadcrumbs, they are beginning to (rightfully) expect their suitors to pay attention to these cues. Yes, you’ve got it, today’s crazy-busy prospect demands the right inbound pitch – whether in the form of an ad or a sales call or a tweet – at the right time in the right medium.

The aphorisms “Know thy customer” and “Go where your customers are” still hold true. The “shift to buying audiences” starts with understanding your audience and going where your audience is…one customer at a time. Social media gives us the unique insights as well as the pervasive new medium to listen to, connect with and engage each customer. It is time for the B2B professionals to catch up to their B2C counterparts in taking advantage of social media as the new customer engagement platform and start tapping into social intelligence to drive revenue.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Koka Sexton
Koka Sexton, Social Selling Evangelist and Sr. Social Marketing Manager at LinkedIn, is one of the most recognized social selling experts in the technology industry. A career in helping companies use social media for lead generation, creating new opportunities, and engaging customers. READ MORE at the LinkedIn Sales Solutions blog.


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