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Do you want to communicate or consume?

There is a lot of discussion regarding audiences and communities in the social media industry. Although they are extremely distinct, we often use these names interchangeably.

Imagine a play being seen by a crowd. They are applauding, laugh, and sob when it is appropriate, but they are not participating in the performance.

They might raise questions during the cast Q&A that follows, and the actors might modify their performance in response to the audience's reactions, but realistically, the script doesn't change in response to feedback from the audience. Instead of participating in the conversation, the audience is there to be entertained, educated, or persuaded.

Now picture a neighborhood, perhaps a small town. Everyone has a role to play, whether they are a doctor, grocery store clerk, teacher, or firefighter. To create a town that works, all of those components must interact. If people cease participating in the community, it becomes stagnant.

Everyone is motivated to interact with one another, and the community is strengthened by these connections.

Audiences and communities have different dynamics. Everyone is interacting with others in both situations—audience members share a common experience, and community members collaborate—but they go about it in different ways.

Platforms are recognizing the various ways users want to participate as the social environment develops and begins to resemble interactions in the real world and are developing features to meet those requirements.

What do you have on?

The objective is to keep an audience entertained for as long as possible if they may be compared to a theater full of spectators. Platforms that are focused on their audience are continually developing and improving features to keep users on the app and returning for more.

Algorithms are in charge.

Who hasn't experienced watching a Reel or TikTok video that is so personal that you begin to question if the app has read your mind? That is what the algorithm does.

The distribution strategy used by audience-based platforms is often top-down. When you log in, the algorithm determines what you see, not necessarily you.

Platforms that are built on audience feedback feed audiences content that they should, in theory, appreciate while fine-tuning the recipe based on their responses. With a For You page that is totally selected by their algorithm, TikTok is particularly adept at this notion.

Value-adding with creators

The performers in the performance that is audience-focused on social media are the creators. Because their objective is to develop content that entertains, informs, and persuades, creators thrive on audience-based platforms.

So it should come as no surprise that reaching new audiences is the main objective of marketers when collaborating with creators.

Businesses like Meta are paying attention. Instagram is putting more creator content within its new feed with suggested posts, while Facebook is changing its focus from news to creators with a billion-dollar investment in creative functions.

Keeping up with your neighborhood

In a small town, people are familiar with one another, communicate with one another, and depend on one another. Similar to this, community platforms emphasize human ties. There aren't many idle observers in a group of people. Everybody plays a part.

Democracy in content

The values and priorities of a society develop naturally; there is no decree outlining what is most important. In the same way, community-based systems operate.

Community platforms allow users to choose which conversations are most important, whereas audience-based platforms utilize algorithms to distribute material to users based on their interests.

The upvoting method on Reddit is a good illustration of this. According to relevancy and resonance, users give content a thumbs up or down; the content with the highest ratings rises to the top. This method encourages users to interact with their peers by letting communities decide among themselves which talks are worthwhile.

Matching the platform

For a time now, brands have understood that not all platforms are created equal. However, as the distinction between audience and community grows more pronounced, marketers must work even more closely with the features and platforms they employ, whether they're assembling social teams, creating content, or gauging their effectiveness.

The goal of audience-based content should be to keep the audience interested. This top-down method of content creation is more conventional. The loop continues after the brand tweets: people retweet and like it.

TikTok, Instagram, and Facebook are great platforms for top-down, eye-catching content.

Less content that is community-based is produced. While powerful brand voices are essential, they cannot be directive.

While some brands travel to Geneva for focus groups, ambassador initiatives, or general community development, others use Reddit's Ask Me Anything (AMA) forums to start conversations in already-established communities. It's important to keep in mind that community content isn't controlled by your brand.

You're only there to start the conversation; it's a democratic process.

Why am I doing this?

Social media is and will continue to be a dynamic field. Marketers must keep an eye on what drives customers to join up for the service as definitions change and platforms go further into their niches.

You can always produce timely, relevant material that speaks to your consumer or prospect by keeping their motivation at the forefront of your social media plan. Brands have the chance to be more deliberate about how, where, and what they appear as online through the new social media subcategories.

By James Robinson

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