Reading Review: Rosenblatt

Engage with your audience or GTFO — that was strategist Beth Becker‘s primary message re: social media. Or, more sedately: What’s the point of having profiles and friends on various social media sites if you don’t use those connections to gain yet more supporters? The importance of two-dimensional communication is easy to see: by not only broadcasting a message but also hearing people’s responses and responding back in turn, the all-important ‘dialogue’ is established. People like ‘dialoguing,’ they feel at ease when big people or organizations say they want to ‘dialogue’ with them. But with social media programs, campaigns can not only broadcast one-dimensionally and dialogue two-dimensionally, they can get their own audience members talking to each other and recruiting peers. This is the true power of three-dimensionality.

Campaigns built around three-dimensionality are the most modern and engaging–even if they ultimately fail, they can amass steam faster than traditional media campaigns thought possible, thanks chiefly to the power of word of mouth, amplified a thousandfold through social media sites. However, as Rosenblatt discusses in “The Rules of Social Media Engagement,” because audiences in the 3D model have such potential for power, campaigns must now monitor more than ever the actual individuals within the audience. Ten or 20 years ago, campaigns really couldn’t have cared less who they got to vote for them on an individual level–they gunned for blocks of voters, targeted a niche or two, were happy if a few states that weren’t their color supported them, and sought and planted a handful of celebrity backers. But now is the era of the singular follower–the relative little guy in real life who may have tons of digital influence. Campaigns are beginning to realize that, in order for an audience to really convince and recruit new supporters, individual audience members must have a fair amount of clout.

In “Measuring the Impact of Your Social Media Program,” Rosenblatt discusses clout within the parameters of return of investment (ROI) and audience ‘reach.’ Every business is about maximizing ROI and of course campaigns are no different. Modern campaigns are discovering, though, that one thing that can’t be bought, can’t be faked or breezed through by throwing money at it, is social media programs. It’s free to join Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Flickr and WordPress, and cheap to upgrade to more professionally presented and abled accounts. But time and care must be invested to show supporters that they are appreciated and non-supporters that they may be wrong. As Rosenblatt notes, today’s ROI is often not about money, but about how much influence individual supporters have, as that influence could translate to more supporters joining.

According to Rosenblatt, the most important influence measurement is ‘reach.’ The simplest measurement for reach is audience size, the implication being that the more people who support an audience member through social media–are friends with her through Facebook, follow her on Twitter, subscribe to her e-newsletter, etc.–the more pairs of eyes are likely to read her message. (And the message, of course, is to join her in supporting x campaign.) How many impressions a link has is a decent way of measuring reach, and this method is even more effective with Twitter, as it takes retweeting into account. But since impressions never tell the whole story–tons of people see a link but don’t click it, and tons of people don’t see a link though it’s right on their screen–it’s important that a message be strong.

Basically, each audience member can potentially be the center of a new circle of supporters. But this circle will only form if enough people think that audience member is worth listening to.

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