Know your market. Know your customer.

March 5, 2009

Know who influences both and how.

Back in the good old days, you remember them, 2002, 2003 and before? Back when men were men, women were women and everyone understood the internet and how it could be used to sell stuff? Bloggers were pesky people with opinions that didn’t follow your finely crafted message? Yeah, then. Anyway in those halcyon days getting a story in a publication or on TV was the end of the marketing time line, the culmination of all efforts.

A marketing or PR dept could not really influence the story beyond that point. A handful of well connected people could and were paid handsomely for their counsel. It was in the hands of the readers and viewers of <insert name here>. Your job was done. Smug smile? Snide remark to your detractors? Enjoying your coffee gazing out across the domain of your influence? Check!

Then came Myspace, then Facebook and your domain increased but your influence didn’t. With the rise of social media it was possible to influence the story after it’s traditional end. In essence it became possible to control the path of the golf ball after the stroke. FANTASTIC! YEAH! One Problem, DOES ANYONE KNOW HOW TO DO IT?

Which lands us back at the beginning of a huge learning curve. Using a tool like Perspctv it’s possible to track how a story moves through the media. It’s possible to track who picks up a story first, second, third. It’s possible, for each type of story, to work out how the story may track and thus be able to influence each step.

Unfortunately at the moment, it’s about as accurate and coherent as the stock market without decades of technical analysis. With time it will become easier to predict how stories and ideas permeate through the populous. Until then using social media to influence relies on knowing your target customer, knowing how they react and knowing who every influencer of the market is.

It comes back to the fundamentals of marketing. Know your market. Know your customer. Know who influences them and how. Sound familiar?

Social media is, I think, a very efficient way of influencing people once the foundations are built. Building the foundations is very hard work. Traditional media has taken years to become analysed, metricised and packaged so it could be sold without understanding how it really worked. Social media isn’t there yet. Those who are willing to put in the time to map and discover how it works are those who will benefit the most.


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