Social Media Week 2016

#SMW16: How brands stay true to their audiences

How do brands stay true to their audiences in a rapidly changing world?

Relative Insight and TechHub hosted a panel for Social Media Week that attempted to explore that question. While the discussion itself wasn’t brimming with ideas, it did toss out a few points to explore further.

Staying ‘true’ to your audience obviously necessitates knowing who your audience is, and – crucially – what ‘language’ they speak. By ‘language’, read ‘slang’, ‘mood’, ‘lexicon’, ‘grammatical conventions’, and yes, even the nasty emotion.

I wrote about an amusing case study a few months ago where a language mismatch threatened to decimate a campaign before it started.

Ben Hookway from Relative Insight talked about how they define a language audience in a brilliantly simple way – by grouping language usage on Twitter. You can then track the behaviours of said language groups and tailor your targeting strategies to connect with each demographic…even the elusive millennial.

However, as Jono Alderson wrote about recently, very few brands have the time and resource to devote to this kind of research. There are tools and platforms in abundance, all promising instant and accessible insights, but we’re not really there yet. The human element that hasn’t been replicated by robots is the actionable insight derived from thorough analysis of the data.

That’s why it’s imperative that analysts are thinking critically about how they use the data they’re working with – within the context of brand-specific audiences, markets, platforms, industries and peers.

My favourite recent example is the Hemnet House – a domestic architectural design based on 200 million clicks of data. It’s a powerful illustration of how consumer data can be used to inform every team within a company – and PR is well-placed to lead the analysis.

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