The most crucial element of your social media strategy. (Or: Don’t interrupt my cocktail party.)

Welcome back to Doing Social Right, the never-ending series (just kidding – last post for now, I promise!) in which you learn how to be a happy, friendly Tweeter and Facebook poster. In parts one and two of this series, we talked about the types of reactions you can create with your social media strategy, what you should and shouldn’t share, and when and how to do it. If you haven’t read parts one and two, you can brush up now or after you’ve read this post.

The final piece in the social media strategy puzzle is arguably the most crucial element to your success online – knowing your audience.

Knowing your audience comes from listening without interrupting.

Your audience, your fans and marketing partners, are already talking on social media. They’re posting pictures of their vacations, sharing the videos they’re watching, and talking about upcoming races. Taking the time to listen to what they’re saying is key to knowing which of your updates they’ll be interested in and what they’ll tune out.

In the racing industry, we already have great cues into what your audience probably wants. They love updates on racing news, your racing plans, motivational and inspirational quotes and photos and videos of race cars. As a racer, it shouldn’t be hard to talk about what you’re most passionate about: racing.

Alternatively, the majority of your fans probably aren’t into high-end fashion. So your ten updates about Paris Fashion Week are going to be ignored by the vast majority of your audience. But what’s worse? Not listening to them and looking at what they’re talking about right now. For example, live tweeting Fashion Week during a World of Outlaws race is likely to get you unfollowed. Stat.

Sorry if your dreams of attracting hordes of young fashionistas to dirt track racing have been dashed.

Knowing your audience is where your whole strategy comes together. When you know your people, your loyal tribe, it becomes easy to tell your story. And listening is the key.

From what to post to when to post it, when you listen well you know what your audience will love. Tune into your social media channels more often than when you want to tell people about yourself and what you’re doing. Look at what they’re talking about and sharing.

Social media is like a cocktail party – you don’t just run into the room screaming, “Buy my t-shirts!” If you want to make friends, you listen. You talk to one person at a time. You know when to talk about yourself. You don’t brag (often). You’re not too serious, but you have some substance. You know when a topic is stale. You’re not boring. You don’t repeat yourself over and over again. You don’t repeat yourself over… (get it?! I’m HILARIOUS.)

The thing about social media is that it’s new and there is a learning curve. For all of us. But don’t let it stop you. Just start listening, learning and trying new things. You’ll get the hang of it, and make a few friends along the way. Maybe someday you and your new friends will even have a cocktail party (or a beer with some dirt in it) and invite me. Because who doesn’t love beer, friends and racing?!


P.S. If you like the concept of knowing your audience (which you should!) and want to read more, I highly recommend Tribes by Seth Godin.

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About the author

Kristin Swartzlander Kristin Swartzlander is passionate about applying business sense to racing 'nonsense' in hopes of growing the sport of dirt track racing. She is a business strategist who works with entrepreneurs and small businesses to help them learn how to use public relations, marketing and social media to achieve their goals. Learn more about social media, marketing and racing sponsorship on the DirtyMouth blog.