In a drive to commoditize everything, we live in a world where big data is all about the numbers and we're all fighting for attention. Maybe it's time to take a step back and consider a different approach.
What if we have it all wrong? What if it's about smaller groups of people revelling in your brand, product or service and having that community drive the agenda? Scary sentiment right?
Not really. Huge brands (including iconic ones) have set that standard and not just in business but in entertainment, sports and virtually every walk of life with that notion in mind. Ask Apple, The Grateful Dead, The Toronto Maple Leafs and hundreds of others.
You know the brands. They all started off as smaller community based brands that turned into global iconic ones.
We're in a new age where demographic lines are blurring and access to content is abundant but cutting through is more and more difficult.
When media buyers sit down to do their work, they hover over charts grouping people into different buckets. They, on behalf of their clients, buy various media (digital, print, broadcast etc.) based on who has the largest of something in each of those buckets depending on the needs of their clients. Media creators do the same.
These days, one of the least relevant buckets is this notion of ‘age’. There is no such thing as an “adult 25-54”. We've yet to meet a person called “25-54”. There is such a huge disparity in the interests between a 54 year-olds versus a 25 year-olds.
Their life experience is too different. You could use any sort of traditional demographic bucket and you'll quickly surmise why it's so crazy that we ever considered people in this way. It's just lazy, and the fact that it hasn't changed in decades is worrisome.
However, what might be true is that people relate to a specific theme or topic in a similar way based on their experience or knowledge around it.
For example, an eleven year-old who is a rabid baseball fan may know every story, transaction and statistic about his or her favourite ball club. Their knowledge is consistent with someone in a completely different demographic bucket. It's actually that knowledge that is way more relevant than people based on age.
Blurring the lines even further these days is our technology and specifically the access and prowess we've gained around that technology. In the past the gate keepers of technology and communication platforms held the control and access to knowledge.
Since the Internet and the kinds of tools we use (smartphones, tablets) and platforms we hang out on (Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat) that access is fairly ubiquitous. Grandparents can chat with their favourite grandchild and share all kinds of content now, and be really comfortable with the technology that enables that sharing.
So again, the kinds of content we're all sharing has less to do with our age, but more to do with our interests and knowledge.
Because the Internet has become so democratized we have access to content at various levels of knowledge, expertise and language. You could get a tweet from a renowned astronomer Tyson Degrasse, a photo from your favourite baseball player like Jose Reyes on Instagram or video on YouTube from Phish's Mike Gordon goofin' around backstage.
You could too, decide to read blog posts at Scientific American and know that the content you are reading is appropriate for you. That's ultimately how all of these people and brands connect with their audience. By providing content that is independent of demographics, but geared to their expertise, knowledge, or emotional state.
By creating quality content, not a whole bunch of content geared to large masses is going to help you connect in a more impactful way. When that content is emotional, is genuine, and relatable you enhance the chance that your audience will enjoy it and share it. The goal is to create content your audience enjoys and shares it with others.
That's the key piece of advice for people who consider big data. Sometimes it is less about sheer tonnage and more about the impact your message has on your audience. If you figure out the magic ratio of quality content vs. quantity content you are likely fit to do really well.
The final piece is in this puzzle of understanding your audience is around search engine optimization. When you sit down to write a piece of content, you bring a great deal of thought, knowledge, and expertise to the project. Perhaps, you have a creative flare, or a specific way of using language. Whatever the case, you are probably writing for other people. Ultimately that's who you want to connect with.
Next time you sit down to write some content understand your audience are real people, who are looking to connect with content that engages them on a visceral level. Content that evokes an emotion but matches their knowledge level around your theme or topic and that's how you'll cut through.