Hey Influencers, Listen To Your Audience!

While the influencer resilience post was designed to build you up when you’re frustrated, this is designed to keep you grounded. I like to think of this as the “get your sh*t together” companion piece to that article. If you’re losing your audience, don’t cast blame; rather, be retrospective about it.

Get Some Internal Feedback

There are multiple ways to gauge audience feedback; if you have thin skin, the first way is to self-diagnose for feedback. It isn’t optimal as a complete solution, but can be useful as a starting point towards continual improvement. Let’s look at some questions you can ask yourself. Remember, this all needs to tie back to what you are optimizing for as you seek to maximize your post quality.

Are your posts too frequent? Buffer has an interesting post on post frequency, wherein they attempt to breakdown posting by how many times a day you should post on various social channels and by time of day. As a nerd, my favorite part is their reference of Dan Wilkerson because Dan’s post from several years back still holds true; you can read the full piece here, but the main takeaway is that the optimum frequency can’t really be guessed — you need to test. Does this take you back to high school chemistry class, setting up a hypothesis to test, measuring observations, and coming to a conclusion? By endeavoring to test and measuring the results on what happens if you post more, or less, or at different times a day, you can better determine if you’re shooting yourself in the foot or not. If engagement changes (both comment frequency and tone), follower counts change, likes/shares/retweets/etc change, then you have something actionable to work with.

Are your posts fragmented by industry, showing a lack of focus or authenticityObviously, we’ve covered this multiple times now, but by bringing it up again hopefully you understand how serious we are about this. If your sample of 10 posts is 1 sunglasses product review, 2 posts about your children, 3 obviously paid blog posts referencing online casinos and payday loans, and 5 on skincare products but you want to review sunglasses for a living, something has to change. I can joke about that a little, because there was a time where I was the one buying those spammy blogposts from you.

Does your 10 post sample pass the sniff test? You want someone that doesn’t know you to be able to quickly glance at the sample set and by word association be able to say what your social channel or persona is about. In this case, it likely wouldn’t be “sunglasses influencer.”

Are your posts counter to the ideals of your audience (i.e. political, geocentric, etc)?

  1. Politics is a pretty obvious consideration considering how polarized we are in the United States right now. If you’re that sunglasses influencer and every other post is about Donald Trump you are probably turning off 60% of your audience. Likewise if hold the oppositional political view and post about it frequently, you may be losing 40% of your audience…Permanently. I won’t say that you shouldn’t be involved politically or have views; just be aware that simply by stating your views where sides exist and lines are drawn that you will immediately alienate a portion of the audience, for better or worse.
  2. Geography is another important factor; like politics if you are always posting your sunglasses reviews in a Yankees hat, you probably won’t sell too much to your audience in Boston. Understanding where your audience lives and who they are is vital — we preached that brands get a better understanding of who they are trying to influence; the lessons in that article are applicable to you as well. The article covers a wide variety of cultural and psychological factors; if you really want to understand your audience, dig deep on it.

How to Listen / Handle External Feedback

Maybe your skin is a bit thicker, or maybe you’re committed to success — if so, then it is time to learn how to listen to feedback. It can come from multiple angles: direct emails, comments on your threads, subtweeted by haters, word-of-mouth, broadcasted on Saturday Night Live, etc. However it comes in, you need to learn how to process. Who better to listen to that than Gary Vaynerchuk in his thesis on how to handle feedback by ignoring the negative attributes?

Okay, now that you get how to strip the emotionality from the feedback, it’s still time to actually listen. Nicole Williams has a short and sweet methodology:

  1. Listen, without explaining — just shut up and listen.
  2. Decide whether or not you agree with the criticism — is the person hating on you or is he or she providing a possible critique?
  3. If the criticism is valid, is it something you can actually address or is it out of your control? If it is out of your control, then beyond thanking them for the feedback, there isn’t much use losing sleep.
  4. If the criticism got past all those filters, what is your resolution to correcting it?

The process is great because it allows you to ignore the negative sentiment as Gary suggests and just approach the feedback logically. I won’t lie, it isn’t easy. We have almost 16,000 influencers as I write this and close to 1,100 brands using our system, so as you can imagine we get a large amount of feedback — some is easy to take and some isn’t, especially if I made the decision to do something specific that turns out to be universally hated. I will say that over time, as you encounter more and more feedback, so long as you can emotionally detach yourself from the feedback, it becomes easier to process and becomes one of the most valued channels you have when it comes to improvement.

How to Interact With Your Audience for Feedback Purposes

Now that understand how to handle the feedback as it comes in, let’s go get some. There’s a few takeaways I’d like you to focus on.

  1. Be responsive. There’s a saying in baseball: speed kills. It’s not the best analogy here; I just like it and was light on my sports analogy quota, having only referenced the Yankee / Red Sox rivalry. Seriously though, the quicker you are to respond to comments on your channels and e-mails, the better. Quick answers spur more conversation and conversation spurs more eyeballs. In other words, by being quick to get back to your fans and casual engagers, you’re building your audience.
  2. Direct questions to the audience; ask for their opinions; call them out. If you have regular commenters, name drop them, give them exposure, and watch how far they’re willing to spread your message for you. By directly engaging them, you are changing the overall makeup of your channels, which leads to the next point.
  3. The goal is to make them feel like your channel is as much their home as it is yours and you’ll be seen less as a broadcaster and more of a community leader. This will lead to much clearer and honest feedback and make the experience better for everyone. Plus, they’ll be more likely to perform desired actions on your reviews, which will lead to higher brand satisfaction, more money, planetary harmony, and universal acclaim. *Cough* Too obscure of a joke? I should have stopped at more money.

Now go and be excellent to your audience.

Joe Sinkwitz

Joe, CEO and Co-Founder of Intellifluence, has close to 20 years of experience in SEO, leading several successful marketing companies and providing expert consultation. He is the author of The Ultimate Guide to Using Influencer Marketing.