11 Ways to Show Respect for Your Online Audience

humanity, respect, love memorialWhen the Internet gave users control over what, when and under which conditions they could access information and entertainment, it dealt a severe blow to the unsolicited broadcast advertising message. 

As 2013 begins, many marketers are creating new strategies focused on building trust, friendship and collaboration with customers, attendees or potential clients. They are addressing the needs and desires of audiences who now demand transparency, humanity and respect.

Do you respect your online marketing audience? Here are 11 ways to show them you do.

  1. Engage Where They Already Are 
    Not only is this respectful, but it's common sense, unless you are interested in wasting your time and money. Do some research. Search using Google, Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn to find where your potential clients or attendees are hanging out online. Don't expect that creating a killer website or blog alone will draw them to you. It won't.
  2. Communicate the Way They Like to Communicate 
    Do they use Facebook for communication? Are they texting or tweeting? Find out. Don't just assume that everyone still uses email.
  3. Speak Their Language 
    For instance, I am part owner in an audio visual company but I specifically do not write company blog posts full of technical jargon about RF cables, switchers, rigging, etc. I know that my potential clients would stay away in droves. When I write a blog post on audio-visual I write for people who aren't familiar with the technical terms, because they make up the majority of our clients.
  4. Be Interesting 
    Find out what your marketing audience is into and give it to them. Do they want tips? Can they learn something from a speaker at your upcoming event? Monitor the blog posts in your niche that seem to be getting a lot of traffic. How are they attracting attention?
  5. Be Easy to Digest 
    Blog readers are scanners so write with this in mind. Keep your paragraphs around three sentences long, use subheadings and break things up with interesting pictures and graphics. Also, in general it's best to keep your blog posts around 700 words or less.
  6. Express Appreciation 
    Saying thank you is easy and costs nothing. Yet it goes a very long way toward building goodwill with your audience. Make sure to thank people as often as you can.
  7. Listen and Respond 
    Monitor your brand using tools like Google Alerts. Keep an eye on blog or Facebook page comments and be sure to respond quickly in a way that shows you are truly listening.
  8. Address Complaints Promptly 
    Yes, it's painful when someone publicly complains about your brand, but it's also an opportunity. When you address complaints promptly and courteously you demonstrate your respect for your marketing audience. This can be much more impressive than an expensive broadcast ad.
  9. Seek Input 
    Ask your potential clients or attendees for their input on a regular basis. Considering a new logo? Which speakers to bring in? What food you should serve? Social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook provide easy ways for you to gather useful information about your audience while making them feel appreciated for their contributions.
  10. Go the Extra Mile 
    If you are truly listening, you may pick up a bit of information online that you can use to knock their socks off. Is there a favorite but uncommon beverage or food they like? Has the community expressed an affinity for a particular author or expert? Use what you learn to surprise your audience with a special treat. 
  11. Pay Them Back 
    There are many ways that you can go a little further to make your online audience feel your appreciation. Can you organize a special tweet-up at your event? 

Respect really comes down to the Golden Rule. Treat your online audience the way you would want to be treated. If you don't like spam in your inbox or nonstop self-serving advertising messages, don't subject people to this kind of treatment. Instead appeal to them as a friend who is genuinely interested in their input, desires and needs. When you do, you will find your content and social media marketing efforts to be significantly more effective.

(Photo by B.S. Wise)

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