Know Your Audience

Last week I wrote about transmedia storytelling and explained why it’s important for today’s professional creative to know the differences between the various types of media used in storytelling, and the platforms used to distribute that media. If you have a firm grasp of these concepts you will be able to make significantly more effective marketing and promotional strategies for you and/or your clients. But equally important is also understanding your audience and ensuring the content you produce truly speaks to your audience.

It seems like such a simple concept, but I’m surprised at how many filmmakers and photographers I see creating blog posts, tweeting tweets, sharing photos on Instagram, or writing blog posts that don’t seem to have any specific rhyme or reason. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying you can’t have an occasional fun or personal tweet or Instagram photo that may not necessarily be geared towards a specific audience. What I am saying is that you should know what your audience is, know how to best communicate to that audience, and have rules and guidelines in place for executing on that plan.

Let’s look at a few types of media and distribution platforms and how you might go about using them to effectively communicate to your audience.

  • Blogs: naturally you may write blog posts to feature your latest work. But don’t make them just bragging or show-off posts. How can you use each post to help educate a bride or wedding vendor. Use photos from an engagement shoot to explain why it’s important to dress a certain way, or explain how and why you work the way you do. Use parent photos from the wedding to illustrate how and why you pose the way you do. If you’re a wedding filmmaker that does “same day edits,” explain your process and the importance of getting materials to you ahead of time. Record a crowd’s reaction to show the effect an SDE has on the audience and why that makes for a more enjoyable wedding.
    How I use it: this blog is geared towards providing education and inspiration for professional creatives. Whenever I do share my client work, I do so in a way that is educational. (E.g. my blog post about how Campbell’s “Heroe’s Journey” can be used to produce more powerful videos for your clients).
  • Twitter: this is one area where I think many creatives are failing. Do you know who is following you on Twitter. I haven’t done a formal survey, but I would bet that a majority of you are followed by other creatives in your line of work. That in and of itself is not bad, IF you have a good business reason. Do you sell products and services to other creatives in your industry? Great. If not, then ask yourself, “Why do I use Twitter?” Is it to give back by sharing tips and tricks? Is it to build a network from where I can find help on shoots? Or, is it just a social outlet for building camaraderie? If you’re not sure who makes up the majority of your followers on Twitter, do some work to find out. Then make sure you tailor your tweets to give that audience what they want/need. If you’re not reaching the audience you want (e.g. current and potential clients), then find a way to reach them.
    How I use it: I specifically changed my primary Twitter handle from @RonDawson to @DareDreamerMag because my Twitter audience are fellow creatives. I use @DareDreamerMag to share resources I know will be beneficial to my audience. Luckily, many of my potential corporate clients can also benefit from what I share on Twitter, so I’m serving both potential clients as well as the creative community. My @RonDawson Twitter handle will be used for more personal tweets.
Jerry Ghionis - WPPI
A scene from the Jerry Ghionis film, “Your Perfect Day.”
  • Instagram: based on many of the Instagram posts I see among creatives, I think this is another platform people are using just to show off. I ask the same question I did with Twitter. Who’s following you on Instagram, what are you sharing, do they care, and does it help your business? If you’re Philip Bloom or a Jerry Ghionis, it makes all the sense in the world to share BTS photos of your shoots. Why? Because a good portion of Phil’s business is related to serving fellow filmmakers. The audience he has built enables him to get blog sponsors, affiliate revenue, etc. Jerry sells products and services to photographers and he’s sponsored by major vendors. The bigger his audience of photographers, the better. Can you say the same?
    How I use it: up until now, I have not been using my Instgram account within the context of my Dare Dreamer Magazine platform. But that will change. Once I do start using it again, it will be tied to the various other transmedia plans I have in the hopper (stay tuned for further developments on that. 🙂 )
  • Meerkat: why do I want to see what you’re working on currenlty. What am I gaining from it? How does it help you? If you’re a wedding and event vendor, you could use Meerkat to show brides in real-time how you direct and engagement session. Or maybe you’re a caterer and every Saturday morning you travel down to the farmers’ market to pick out the freshest ingredients and you want to share the process with your clients and followers. Perhaps you use that time to give tips on how to pick the best fruits and veggies. That is objective and helpful advice that would help you build an audience of potential clients.
    How I use it: I don’t currently, but I see a place for it in my pending “master plan.” 
  • Pinterest: I think there is a huge opportunity among wedding and event vendors to use Pinterest to market their businesses. It’s huge among the 25-49 female demographic. Start using Pinterest boards to curate photos of your work (e.g. photography, video, attire, food, venues, etc.)
    How I use it: I don’t really. I have started curating BTS photos and the like. And I’ll probably continue to use it (if at all) that way.
  • Facebook: this is a tough one, I know. Facebook is so ingrained in our everyday lives, it easily crosses over from personal to business and back to personal. In an ideal world, you’d use your personal Facebook account for real friends and family, then use a Facebook page to engage with your business related audience. But many of us started used Facebook before they created pages, and we’ve already built large audiences. So the challenge is how to get your business audience to a page.
    How I use it: I currently use Facebook for both business and personal. As I mentioned above, that was the only real option. But I’m slowly and surely moving my business audience to my Facebook pages. In about a month I will be launching something new and engagement will primarily be on the Dare Dreamer Mag Facebook page (now would be a good time to start “Liking” that page before we start the big roll out).
  • YouTube: people always ask me what’s better: YouTube, Vimeo or Wistia, to which I say “Yes.” They’re all great when used effectively. IMHO, if you’re just using YouTube to host your videos, you’re missing the point. At its core, YouTube is a social media platform that just happens to use video (like Instagram uses primarily photos). I think this is one area where knowing your audience is the most essential. People use YouTube for education and entertainment. If you’re posting videos on YouTube they should therefore fit into one (or both) of those categories. Don’t use it as a way to display your latest corporate or wedding videos. But do use it to make tutorials that your potential clients might find helpful. Or create original content that your clientele would find entertaining (e.g. a self-deprecating vlog; a comedy series about a bridezilla; a satire about an office environment.
    How I use it: I have a few client videos on my Dare Dreamer Mag YouTube channel that I posted primarily for testing purposes. Again, there is content in the works that I’m producing that will live on this channel (start subscribing now). But I also use YouTube for my SoundandSEA.TV film series. It has it’s own separate Google and YouTube account that I manage.

The moral of this long story is… know your audience. Not only who they are, but what they need from you; and how giving them what they need helps you in your business. Then execute.

How are you using these various media platforms?