I often hear the criticism that social media is all about the industry talking to each other and messages are not reaching the broader consumer market. This is especially the case after large tweet ups like #chardonnay day or #roserev where there are many industry participants leading the conversations. Now in some instances that may the case as a particular twitter profile will be following peers and key influencers. However, it’s important to remember that not everyone who is on social media platforms will participate actively in the conversation, but they are still absorbing your messages.

Forrester Research group has done some great work in classifying consumers into seven overlapping levels of social technology participation. In Australia, they note that 64% of people are spectators – absorbing blog content, listening to podcasts, watching videos but not actively commentating. This makes their participation difficult to measure and report on, but the messages being communicated are in many instances still getting through.

There’s a great Forrester presentation by Josh Bernoff that talks about these different consumer profiles that’s worth flicking through to understand behavioural differences and how each profile is different. You’ll notice that regardless of the market, “Creaters” make up a small proportion, but there’s lots of other people who are still being impacted and observing.

Actively engaging your consumers as part of the conversation is a key part of social media success, but if you’re looking at reporting on the outcomes, it’s important to keep in mind that so much of the activity is anecdotal and hard to quantify. This Forrester framework is often useful to take stakeholders through to explain consumer behaviours and set expectations beyond mere retweets and brand mentions.

Some Tips to Help Broaden the Reach of your Messages

Extend the reach of who you are talking to and create advocates for your brand. Some simple ways to do this include:

  • Including the twitter follow button on your website – then consumers who are active on twitter can easily follow you
  • Putting up signage in your venue letting people know you are social – this could be in your cellar door, restaurant, café
  • Include your social media links in your broader collateral – email signatures, marketing brochures
  • Encourage people to be more active and participate – competitions, polls and promotions are a great way of getting people to get more involved.
  • Keep an eye on the analytics of your facebook page – you’ll often find people are viewing your page even though not commentating and looking at the analytics will help you understand how to create more value.