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Why Your Social Media Audience Matters More Than You Think – Here’s Why #131

If you’re a content marketer, you probably wouldn’t send zombies to spread your brand’s message! You work too hard at building your own reputation so that others will trust what you create and share on social media. But a new study reveals that the reputation of your audience among their followers may be even more important.
In this episode of our Here’s Why digital marketing video series, Perficient Digital’s Mark Traphagen tells you why!

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Eric: Hey, Mark. It’s not always easy to get your message across on social media, right?
Mark: For sure, Eric. I mean, not only do you have to break through all the noise in people’s newsfeeds, but there’s also the issue of trust.
Eric: You mean whether or not people trust the person who created the content, whether they believe that person is really a credible expert?
Mark: Well, yes. But it turns out the trust issue doesn’t stop with just the original share. In fact, who that person is may not even be the most important issue.
Eric: You better explain what you mean.
Mark: Some research from the Media Insight Project of the American Press Institute turned up some surprising data. It turns out that whether people trust the person who shares a piece of content with them matters more than who wrote the content or even what source published it.
Eric: Really?
[Tweet “Whether people trust the person sharing content is more important than if they trust the creator” ]
Mark: The Media Insight Project conducted an experiment with a number of social media users. They showed them content from an unknown source but shared by someone they already know and trust. And then they showed them content from a known, highly credible source, but shared by someone they didn’t know. Then they found the people were more likely to trust the content if it came from a friend they knew and trusted, regardless of the original author or source.
Eric: It sounds like that might be a reason why fake news can have so much reach.
Mark: Yes, but I think the implications extend to all content producers, even those of us who work hard to build thought leader reputations as writers and to publish on respected publications.
Eric: How so?
Mark: While the study doesn’t mean there’s no value to having a good reputation as a writer or a publisher, it does mean that you can’t just sit back on your own laurels. You have to care about the quality of your audience because those are the people who are going to have the most influence over how your content is received by their circles of friends and followers.
[Tweet “Who your audience is might actually be more important than who you are to those who don’t know you yet”]
Eric: I can see what you’re saying. If you have an audience made up of a lot of trusted, reliable, credible people and you can get them to share your content, your content is more likely to have a larger and more effective reach. But, how can you make that happen?
Mark: Well, I think there are several things you can do, but let’s start off with something you should not do.
Eric: Okay, what’s that?
Mark: You should not waste your time and money on any schemes to get a lot of fake followers, or even just followers who have little interest in you or your topics. There are a lot of reasons not to do that, but this study provides one more. Those aren’t the kinds of people who are going to extend and amplify the credibility of your message to others.
Now, some positives you should do:

  1. First, make use of every opportunity to earn sincere followers, people who are most likely to get what you share, value it and be more likely to be people who will be trusted when they share such information with their own following. That’s another reason why it’s valuable to try to get a column on a great publication, or get interviewed by established experts, or speak at conferences and such. I find that people who follow me from those exposures are usually the engaged kind of people who are going to be influential to their own followings.
  2. Second, work hard at building good relationships with others who are already trusted and have a great reputation in your field or topical space. You want them not just for the reach they might have, but because when they recommend your stuff it’s more likely that their audience will respond positively.
  3. And finally, be active with your own audience. Be in there, engaging, giving, helping, sharing, giving them reasons to be favorable toward what you share when they see it. If you’ve been building a real audience of people who care about your topics, then the study we discuss today shows how important it is to encourage them to want to share your stuff with their friends.

Eric: Thanks, Mark. Our viewers can view the study: ‘Who shared it?’: How Americans Decide What News to Trust on Social Media conducted by the Media Insight Project that we mentioned earlier.

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Thoughts on “Why Your Social Media Audience Matters More Than You Think – Here’s Why #131”

  1. You scared me with zombies -_- But next time i tried to engage with my audience by using trusty source than fake once. This really help us to improve CTR for all pages. Thanks for these tips 🙂

  2. You got it, Abubakar! And don’t worry about our zombies; they’re some of our best employees!

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Mark Traphagen

Mark Traphagen was our Content Strategy Director for Perficient Digital until February of 2019. He has been named one of the most influential content and social media authors in numerous industry listings.

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