Several people using a laptop

When considering who is our target audience, our first consideration is usually demographics: Male or female? Living where? Household income? Age? Kids? Pets?

When we see ourselves in the answers to those questions, it can be tempting to think we are the target. Especially when it’s simple to add affinity to the mix — I’m a customer of our business! I love our product/store/service! But even if you can check every box on the list for your target audience’s profile, you are never, ever the target. Ever. And here’s why:

1. You know too much.
You work for your company.
That means you have insider knowledge. You know how it was made, what goes into it, what its strengths and weaknesses are. That’s a lot more than your customers know coming in.

2. You have seen this before.
Your expectations and criteria for judging are different. You’ve looked at all your competitors closely, and you know all the things to look for—all of them.

3. Your intent is different.
You have an agenda. You want to sell the product as much as use it, and that will color your view.

Don’t succumb to the temptation to think of yourself as your target audience. Get real users and potential users of your product to test, use, and report back to you.

I’m excited to be going to Content Marketing World, where I’ll be moderating the Analytics and Data track on Thursday, September 7.

There’s an amazing line-up of experts and topics:


Scott Berinato is the author of Good Charts: The HBR Guide to Making Smarter, More Persuasive Data Visualizations. 

Making good charts—data visualizations that are well-designed, compelling, and really communicate important information visually—is not as easy as hitting the chart button in Excel. I’m looking forward to learning from a true expert what makes a good chart and see some great examples.


This session will be a deep dive into Google Analytics for content marketers. Learn how to run the best

Here’s a chance to learn how to use GA to find new ideas for content, set up your analytics correctly, and what the best tools are for getting the most out of your analytics and reporting.


Another great session on data visualization. This one will focus on how to think about storytelling with data, best practices for reporting, and diving into Google Data Studio.


Misia Tramp will be leading the last Analtyics & Data session of the day, with a fascinating take on using scientific analysis to stay ahead of the competition and identify the topics of “mutual resonance” — “the intersection of what businesses want to say and what customers want to hear—at the linguistic, emotional, and content levels.”

Of course, there are many other great sessions and brilliant speakers ahead, too. Can’t wait!

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I’m newly reenergized to write for this blog, for a number of reasons. But a quick review showed it needed an update.

So I dived in quickly to update a couple of plugins, revise the layout a bit, and freshen up with a new coat of virtual paint. And yet… nothing’s changed.

The sponsorship plugin still appears, despite the fact that I uninstalled it. My Twitter feed won’t update. None of the changes I made are showing, even after I’ve cleared my cache.

It certainly takes the wind out of my sails to come rarin’ to go and be met with dumb technical difficulties.

I’m testing slideshow plugins. Here’s the first one, Soliloquy Lite Responsive Slider:

So far, so good. Really easy to use and can add links and captions. Best of all, it’s responsive.

The only thing I don’t like is that the captions are over the navigational buttons.

Always use a permanent email address (e.g., gmail) to set up your blog.

Because if you use your work email, and then you change jobs, you can’t log in to your own damned blog.

And that’s a PITA.

I will be lecturing tomorrow on the value of photos, video, & music in social media at NYU’s Digital Social Media Marketing & Execution Summer Intensive.

Students are required to tweet, so see what they say at #NYUSMI all week!

I have been frustrated recently with the tendency to refer to content types as “content.” Images, videos, text, PDFs, Flash files — these aren’t content; they’re content delivery mechanisms.

Content is an idea made consumable. Ideas evolve into creations which are then delivered via a variety of asset types. These assets are not what’s important; they’re just the vehicle to deliver the idea.

If you write a brilliant article on the debt ceiling, the article isn’t the content; your thoughts and ideas put into words is the content.

If you have a photo gallery on Flickr of owls with stupid expressions on their faces, the gallery isn’t content. The photos aren’t content. The content is the concept: the idea of curating the photos, captioning them, and creating a new way of looking at them.

So when we are creating a content strategy, let’s not focus on what assets there are, but let’s look at the ideas. Are we delivering the right ideas to the right people at the right time and place?

What do you think Content is?

Yellowish owl eyes

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Reputation management services have been getting a lot of attention. A recent New York Times article featured these companies, who use a variety of ingenious techniques to help counteract negative attention online. Certainly when others are posting things about you or your business that you can’t control, a service like this can be helpful. One bad review can rise to the top and undermine your reputation.

But another key to reputation management is being proactive about controlling your content in the first place. A good content strategy should include a plan for social media. The challenge is to balance the dichotomy of the essential spontaneity and immediacy of social media with the need for planning and controlling the content you release.

The elements of content strategy for social media include the creation of a content calendar, rules of engagement, and editorial guidelines.

A Content Calendar plans your content distribution in advance, to account for seasonal content, new products or services being offered, and key announcements. It is a living document that by definition will change to respond to relevant news, current events, memes, and changes. But planning ahead determines you’ll always have appropriate content ready, and allows advance planning for releasing that content.

Social Media Guidelines are the golden rules by which all your social media posts are governed. This is particularly important for those for whom multiple people are posting via blogs, Twitter, or other channels. For a small company or a single individual, these guidelines can be simple, outlining which topics are appropriate, whether it’s acceptable to mention competitors or endorse vendors, talking about current projects, and so on. For a larger company, it might include legal restrictions (consult with the company’s legal team), privacy policies, and rules around the protection of intellectual property. It is important, however, to not be too restrictive with these guidelines, as it undermines the essence of social media — the individual conversation. IBM was a pioneer in creating social media guidelines, creating a wiki in which employees could discuss and contribute to the rules and guidelines for social media. Together, IBM’s employees created a guide to posting that serves as a model for others and continues to evolve with evolving social media channels.

Editorial Guidelines
are a more creative exercise. You have identified the content you want to distribute via social media, but have you thought about how to present it? Your voice is important. It should reflect your brand strategy, but also recognize the forum in which you are speaking. Don’t try to be hip and cool on Twitter if your brand isn’t hip and cool. But don’t embarrass yourself with a lack of understanding of the medium. (For example, don’t tweet every day with a promo for your latest product.)

Social Media requires planning, just like any other communications channel. Make sure you have a content strategy in place before you start participating.

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We frequently discuss how we will reward users when we reach a certain number of Facebook fans. Coupons are always welcome for consumer goods, and everyone loves a prize, but there have to be more inventive (and less logistically challenging) ways to get people excited about getting your numbers up.

Piggly Wiggly, the supermarket chain, came up with a great idea: users voted on what type of dance Mr. Pig, their mascot, would perform on their Facebook page on the day they hit 25,000 fans. Voters got excited, numbers got boosted, and now, you and I can enjoy watching Mr. Pig do the “Single Ladies” dance. Not to be missed…

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