Think of all the emails you receive on a daily basis. All of the branded social media content you see while scrolling through your various timelines. All of the messaging your brain subconsciously analyzes and organizes as you go about your normal day-to-day routine. We consume so much information in the 21st century; from the clothes we wear, to the food we eat, to the signs that punctuate our daily commute, we’re constantly inundated with branding and hyper-targeted communication.
So how do you stand out from the crowd?
In an age when impressions and engagement rule the social metric library, how do you get your message across without being too forceful?
The answer: understand your audience.
This might seem obvious, but the success or failure of a campaign can largely be attributed to its strategy. Communication needs to be approached with an understanding of the intended audience’s interests, goals, and needs or concerns.
How do you achieve that understanding?
- Member surveys. These annual, bi-annual, or quarterly campaigns are a natural opportunity to better grasp what your members are looking to get out of your organization’s communication strategy. Include a question or two about what avenues the responder finds best for communication (i.e. social vs. email vs. traditional media) and what types of content they would like to see in those avenues.
- A/B testing. If you’re not sure what will work and can afford to take a small gamble on figuring it out, brainstorm a list of ideas and use a trial-and-error approach to learn how your audience responds to different tactics. This is especially useful when it comes to boosting your social content; if one tweet doesn’t perform as well as another under the same campaign constraints, work to identify what prevented it from doing well and keep that in mind for next time.
- Direct questions. Sometimes the best way to get an answer to your question is simply to ask. Outside of your normal survey cadence, you may find it beneficial to poll your social media followers or email subscribers to identify what their intentions are when it comes to interacting with you on that respective channel.
Of course, the most important thing to keep in mind when using any of these tips is to listen.
Sometimes it can be difficult to step away from the paradigm of what’s been done and brainstorm what can be done differently, but it’s important to remember that engagement isn’t a destination. You don’t get an award for arriving at the “Engaged Members” Winners’ Circle. Because there is no benchmark for engagement and communication aside from the one you set for yourself, there is always something that can be done to communicate more effectively.
So what’s the secret?
Hint: there isn’t one.
There is no simple solution to the mystery of engaging your members with effective communication. It’s a constantly-evolving process that requires constant feedback and (more importantly) listening to what your audience wants from your organization.