Social Media: Should you be there and which one is “there?”

Your English teacher told you that when you write, you should remember your audience.  But this means you need to know who your audience is. Your teacher made it clear, however, where your audience was. It would reading the paper you handed in. Even though they might tell you that you are writing for a different audience, the audience was them.

Since, as communicators, we are no longer in school, it’s not so easy, unless you are working on an assignment for a continuing education course. You don’t get to hand in a paper to be marked and hit your target audience. If only it was that easy. 

It’s easy to say an organization should have a blog, or be on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, or whatever social media source should arise next. But what if your audience, both supporters and detractors, are not there? Recently Ricky Gervais tweeted “Say what you want about the Amish....because they're not on Twitter.”  Most Amish sects are unlikely to have a website as well. But this makes sense their audience is not there, so why should they spend the energy to maintain an online presence.

The same can be said of most other organizations as well. If our audience is not in a place, and we do not need to respond to detractors there, then we are wasting our energy and our resources by being there. This means we need to do some leg work to find out where our intended audience is. It doesn’t make sense for us to choose to be active on a platform where we do not have audience and have no need to build one.

Our sole purpose in being active in a social media channel should be to service and build our audience, providing them with quality content they can use. If this is not why we are there we are doing our audience and our other stakeholders a disservice. We are wasting energy and resources, which means that we could be better using them to service our audience where they are, we are wasting our own efforts, and we are showing anyone who has any kind of vested interest in us that we do not truly know where our audience is.