There is a common thought among companies that they NEED to be on the latest social networks in order to connect or retain customers. This is simply not true.

 

Plain and simple, companies need to be where their customers are online.

 

While this has been a best practice of Airfoil for some time, Altimeter Group founders and digital researchers Charlene Li and Jeremiah Owyang were able to relay this practice in a new and easy-to-understand approach.

 

With the number of social networks today – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, FriendFeed, etc. – companies that think a presence is required on all of them tend to use, as Jeremiah said, a carpet bombing approach.

 

In order to truly connect with an audience, companies need to understand their audience’s behavior, which Altimeter has termed as “social graphics.” To build a digital strategy and connect with your audience, Altimeter has deve loped five key questions to use to evaluate your audience’s behavior:

 

  Where are your customers online?

o   Translation – Are they active on particular Web sites, forums and/or social networks?

  What are your customers’ social behaviors?

o   Translation – Do they tend to just read content? Or are they active commenters/contributors?

  What social information or people do customers rely on?

o   Translation – Do they rely on word-of-mouth from friends and family? Or do they follow particular influencers?

  What is your customers’ social influence?

o   Translation – Do your customers influence the actions/behaviors of others?

  How do your customers use social technologies to learn, make decisions and support your products and/or services?

o   Translation – Do social networks or particular Web sites influence your customers’ decisions or behaviors?

Listening before leaping is the best move a company can make before engaging in social media. It starts with a social media audit to determine where your customers are, what they are talking about, the competitive landscape and what types of content and interaction is preferred.

 

While this is only the first step in building a digital media strategy for your company, it can help you put many things into perspective, including y

our customers.

 

— Matt Wolpin

 

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