Why you should care about your audience’s voice
Written by Stef de Jong, Founder of Likefriends.
This article was first published on The Drum.
Finding your audience is easy. Making your stories real and content resonate, that’s the challenge.
We’re an Amsterdam based agency. To us, culture and language are blended from the get go. Founded by Dutchies, adaptation comes naturally. We have 180 different nationalities in our city alone and many different languages pass through our canal-lined town. All these people come from different cultures, grew up with their own values and have unique perspectives on things.
Like Amsterdam, basically a tiny microcosm, the internet and our ever more connected world has become one big melting pot of cultures, groups and subcultures. Online there are no borders, we connect with like-minded peers and create our own languages.
With the internet, things also became more transparent. We know where to find our audiences, what they like, where they eat, when they go to the gym, work or study. The thing is, brands struggle more and more with tone and form.
P&G chief brand officer Marc Pritchard illustrated this as the crap-trap during a Cannes Lions event this year, saying: “In our quest to do dynamic, real-time marketing in the digital age, we were producing thousands of new ads a year […]. We eventually concluded that, as the world was getting louder and more complex, we were simply just adding to the noise. Never accept mediocrity. Don’t ever be seduced into the crap trap of just ‘getting something out there’.”
Being a creative agency with a strong footprint in social media, we developed a habit of keeping our ear to the ground. Finding out what’s buzzing within our core audience has grown to become our focus. Curiosity is part of our DNA, much like listening is our starting-point in any conversation.
The opportunity we see is that today people talk and express their views more transparently than ever before. The way we talk, however, has shifted over time. The speed with which our communication has shifted from words to visuals is astonishing. Ask an average 13-year-old how many words she used in her run-of-the-mill text message, and she’ll stare at you as if her Wi-Fi just vanished. Ask her how many Snaps she took while you were asking her your previous question, and she’ll say five, 10 or even 20. Our ever-changing world of communication floats more and more on visual language, and you’re either in it or need your translator to get by.
In the last four years we’ve been investing in training our team and developing software to identify and unravel tonality cues, subculture trends and, most importantly, visual conversations. In order to create effective stories, we ask ourselves three simple questions.
These questions help us being truly relevant and create engaging content – addressing the things that matter most to our clients’ audiences.
1. Who are you dealing with?
Let’s say you want to communicate with a 16-year-old skater. To do so, you need to get on the same wavelength.
We start by mapping the tribe using language tracking. Our software allows us to take the followers of any brand and start to understand how they behave across social media. So instead of simply looking at what different people are saying – like most social listening tools will show you – we aim to get a clear understanding on what binds our audience together. How do they behave? What (other) brands do they like? Mapping your tribe’s language and leaders will build you clear personas around your core network behaviour.
2. What moves them?
Once you’ve defined the core representatives of your tribes, map out what moves them. Understand how topics of conversations around your brand connect and grow online. If your tribes talk about one thing – like training – what other words are connected? Running, swimming, other brands, time-slots even? Contextual insights provide you the context to bridge the gap between your brand and audience/s. In the case of our 16-year-old skater, we discovered he’s not interested in money, nor in fame. He looks for the recognition of his peers.
3. What is their language set?
Deep diving into the visual language of our tribe’s leaders provides insights on the tribe’s habits. Do they have their own signage? What are the memes and running gags within the community? Understanding what drives your tribe visually draws you a complete 360 degrees’ picture of your audience. Combining all insights leads to a clear creative brief. From our visual research (‘Key Influencer Visual Tracking’) we learned that in the skater’s tribe it is not about winning, but about following your passion.
Don’t be seduced into the crap trap. Listen and learn to create content that resonates.