But if you follow certain basic principles of audience engagement, you can dramatically expand the audiences on which the success of your business or organization depends.
In case you’ve just returned home from East Siberia, let me bring you up to date on the Ice Bucket Challenge. The ALS Association recently raised a ton of money to fight Lou Gehrig’s disease by having people post videos of themselves dumping ice water over their heads, making a contribution to ALS, and challenging the next person to do the same.
They raised more than $80 million in about 5 weeks (late July through August 2014), up from $2 million in the same period last year.
You can do the math. That’s a gargantuan bump in donations.
Here’s what you need to do if you want to have online success in expanding your audiences or “markets” and generating new revenues along the way:
- Know your audience(s). Can you identify the groups of people—be they clients, customers, donors, volunteers or others—on which the success and survival of your organization depends?
- What do you need from them and what do they need from you? A successful relationship with your organization’s primary audiences depends on a give and take. This requires a deep understanding of what they want from you and what you need from them.
- To acquire this deep understanding, you must LISTEN to your key audiences. What are their problems and concerns? How can you address them? For starters, you can ask them in a survey. People like to give their opinions about the things they care about.
- Engage your audiences! This is the big key to success. If you are truly listening, you have taken the first step toward engagement. Face-to-face meetings and social media are both effective engagement tools.
- Make the engagement fun! Let your audience steal the show! How much fun is it to douse yourself with ice water, post the video online for friends and followers to see, and challenge a friend to follow suit—all in the name of supporting a good cause.
- Harness the energy created by this engagement by giving your expanded audiences concrete ways to take action in continued support of your organization.
Once you are truly engaged with your audiences, then you are well positioned to create your own challenge.
After all, it was an engaged member and advocate of the ALS Association, former Boston College baseball player Pete Frates, a Lou Gehrig’s disease sufferer, who posted the first challenge on Twitter.
Biddle’s Bottom Line: An engaged member of the ALS Association’s online community initiated the Ice Bucket Challenge. The idea wasn’t hatched in a C-Suite boardroom.
Coming Next: Getting to Know Your Audience