The digital sphere is challenging, enlightening, empowering, intriguing, engaging, entertaining and absolutely infuriating, all at once. Its unpredictability is fascinating; why do some Facebook posts garner 29,871 likes while others get just 3? Why does a picture of a smiling cat get shared more than news about the devastating effects of letting your water run while washing the dishes? How does a random picture of a ridiculously photogenic guy become a worldwide sensation alongside a video created to bring down a would-be African tyrant?
You can quote all the analytics and research and proven numbers and figures you like, but it all boils down to one simple truth; people will like what they like, not what you want them to like.
Suddenly, the creators, owners and initiators of content are no longer the ones holding sway over the very realms they themselves created; in essence, the prey has become the predator. If your audience feels indifferent towards something you’re doing, well, it’s going to show. No likes. No shares. No comments. No interaction. Continue to force-feed them with content that you think they’ll want and they’ll respond by unfollowing, unsubscribing and un-something or another that generally means they’re cutting you off. And then you would have lost them, maybe for good.
“But why, oh why, does this happen?” you wail, inconsolable. Let us count the ways: Too many posts, too few posts, too much selling, too little conversation, content that’s too vulgar or racy, content that’s too safe and clean, speaking the wrong language, not speaking enough in a particular language, having too many contests, having too few contests, too much advertising space, too much advertising speak, too serious, not serious enough, being unresponsive, being arrogant, being mechanical, being rude, posting at the wrong time, seeding in the wrong place, bad layouts, overly designed layouts, too liberal, too conservative, too traditional, too long on the fence and about 200 more.
Yes, the digital world is, well, as complex and unpredictable as you and I. So what can you do to make it work for you? Simple.
Test. Measure. Rinse and repeat.
Take everything into consideration. You’ll find there’s a very big distinction between posting something on your Wall at 8am on Monday, and doing it an hour later, between a post that’s 50 words and one that’s double the length, between a coloured picture and a blurry black and white snapshot. EVERYTHING counts.
Don’t force-feed your audience with messaging. Vary your content and style. Get a feel for what your audience likes, then give them more of that. Keep being surprising, and you’ll be pleasantly rewarded.
Connect beyond your circle. Engage with people beyond your normal communities. Build relationships and make friends with different crowds. Be a spokesperson for a cause. Do something you (or your brand) normally wouldn’t do so you can start touching people you normally wouldn’t reach.
Yes, the digital space is a wonderful place… you just need to learn how to live in it.