I hope you find my writing and business tips and observations useful. My business and blog are dedicated to helping businesses communicate clearly and reach their potential. Read, subscribe to my newsletter, enjoy!Tash

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Social media predicts stuff

Grasping at possible future options

Which option will be our future?

I have just read a great article* by Amy Birchall about social media being used to predict the future.

A researcher at Illinois University, Kalev Leetaru, was able to ‘predict’ events such as the Libyan revolution, Osama bin Laden’s location and the Arab spring revolts by monitoring conversations and trends on Twitter. (This made me think of the TV show Person of Interest which is based on a machine predicting the future!)

Extrapolating from that and other observations, the article discusses how social media can be used in many fields to predict things – giving warning to health authorities about epidemics for instance could be very important. Obviously, marketers and advertisers are interested by this as they can predict trends and position themselves accordingly.

It has also pointed out how valuable it can be to target the right (read influential) people can be. The example given was to immunise 96% of people for community immunity – or immunise the most connected 30% for similar results. In business terms, work at promoting yourself to 96% of your market, or to the 30% that influences the rest of the market.

With hash tags and various data monitoring and mining platforms available, it is possible to use social media to research your market and tailor marketing to suit. Have you used social media to decide on a strategy or campaign? Do you think it helped you make good decisions?


* I would love to link to the article for you but I can not find it online – Management Today does have a website and lists a number of articles but not this one unfortunately. I could upload a photocopy of the article but that would breach copyright so I won’t!

Aim your content at your target

Whether it’s content for a blog, a newsletter, a website or anything else, it is going to produce the best results if the content and writing suit your potential buyers (your target audience).

Sounds simple, yet it isn’t always done…

Earlier this week I read a post by Paul Hassing which reminded me of when I was selling my house a few years ago. Aiming to sell the house, we tried an agent with an apparently different philosophy to most real estate companies. However, he didn’t like my cute little house (for one thing it didn’t have picture rails like our neighbour’s house did!) and couldn’t sell it. We swapped to a woman at another company who was great and sold it for an extra $20K to the same person the first agent had spoken to.

I think one factor that helped her do a much better job was her enthusiasm for the house – at her first visit she was imagining what people could do in the home and the type of furniture they’d like, and so on. She looked for what was good about the house, thought about the type of people it would appeal to and came up with ideas to feel them on the lifestyle it would give them.

The first agent didn’t like the house himself so couldn’t imagine any extras to sell to potential buyers. Agent two used passion to understand and sell to her audience; agent one saw it as a commodity and tried selling it without emotion, imagination or real interest.

So when writing content remember to pitch the message at the right people and help them picture how the product or service will fit into their lives. Targetting the right people may reach fewer people but it will get more action from those people.

Have you seen real estate agents pitch the wrong house to people, or excite people by pitching the right house to them?

Shifting demographics

Recently I read that traditional marketing demographics are narrowing.

Traditionally, TV, radio etc needed broad categories to work with and it suited marketers to keep us sorted according to such categories (eg male or female, age 18 – 35 or 35 – 60).

However,  social media is more interactive so can target people according to interests and tastes rather than assuming majority of x group has those tastes. For instance, instead of targeting all women aged 18 – 35 you can specifically target people who like cooking for friends.

It is an interesting thought and makes marketing both easier and harder, I think. For one thing, you can get very specific about your audience and approach that smaller group – in this case, a smaller group will have a higher response rate as they are already interested. However, it may take more effort to know who your demographic is (it is easier to assume men over the age of 30 than to categorise men over 30 with trade qualifications who like fishing for example!)

How well defined is your target demographic? Do you specifically target that group every time your business communicates with the public?