You Do Not Own Your Audience

Jeffrey Rohrs

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Jeffrey Rohrs, author
@jkrohrs

Jeffrey Rohrs, Vice President of Marketing at ExactTarget, joins the Social Pros Podcast this week to discuss his new book Audience: Marketing in the Age of Subscribers, Fans and Followers; the best ways to measure your audience; and the fact that even though it may feel like it, you don’t own your audience.

Read on for some of the highlights and tweetable moments, or listen to the full podcast.

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Tweetable Moments

“No audience is truly owned.” -@jkrohrs (tweet this)

Get Audience for Free!

9781118732731 p0 v2 s260x420 You Do Not Own Your AudienceJeff Rohrs is giving away 10 copies of his new book, Audience: Marketing in the Age of Subscribers, Fans and Followers!

To win a copy, just find an audience acquisition method in the wild – some way that businesses are capturing emails, Facebook likes, Twitter followers, etc. in the offline world. Snap a picture and tweet it with @jkrohrs mentioned and with the hashtag #audiencebook. The first 10 people to do it will win a copy of the book!

The Audience Imperative

Jeff introduces the idea of the “proprietary” audience. There is an ownership mentality in the current marketing world: we have this many followers, this many email subscribers, this many “likes.” But no audience is truly owned. They can turn off their televisions, unfollow you on Twitter and RSS feeds, unlike you on Facebook, unsubscribe from your email lists. The audience controls the nature of the relationship.

But audiences are proprietary in the sense that, when they open up these channels to your brand, they’re enabling you to have an exclusive relationship with them in that moment. Your audience is an asset to your brand, but are only valuable as long as they are staying engaged with you.

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Not all audiences are created equal.

“There are three dimensions to audience measurement: size, engagement, value,” Jeff says. Size speaks to the literal size of your audience, as well as the calibre and quality of quality underlying those individuals. Engagement is relevant in the usual sense we think about it – are you engaging followers to interact with your content? – but now there is an additional layer: are you getting read in the first place? Value is important to understand in terms of the audience member over a lifetime. For example, if you have a million email subscribers and each is worth $3 over the lifetime of their subscription, that is a $3 million asset.

In the first chapter of his book, available for download from its website, he introduces the idea of the “audience imperative.” Our job is to use our earned, owned, and paid media to sell in the short term but also to increase the size, engagement, and value of our proprietary audiences over the long term.

Social Media Stat of the Week: 4% subscriber loss translates to 80% market cap loss

In 2011 when Netflix announced the prospective split of their services into Netflix and Qwikster, they lost about 800,000 of their 21 million subscribers. That’s only a 4-5% loss, but it translated into their stock plummeting from $300 to $60 per share: a loss closer to 80%.

Looking back, we can see now that Netflix recovered quickly. Their stock is now above $300 per share again, and their subscriber numbers are over 30 million. But analyzing what happened can give us insights into how we can and should measure our audiences.

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“Imagine if you had to report to the street, the size and growth of your proprietary audiences,” Jeff challenges. “Could you even do that right now?”

Public companies are not the only ones who need to measure the value of their subscribers – and of those subscribers’ opinions.

Often the social media managers can answer subscriber numbers without checking, but much of the time those actual numbers (and their growth or decline) don’t get reported all the way up the ladder. Is engagement moving up or down? Is value going up or down? These types of questions are essential to know not just for the social media team but for everyone involved.

Holy Social!

The media is still talking about Twitter’s all-male Board of Directors, revealed earlier this month. The company that has given so many of us a voice failing to reflect diversity in its board member choices has brought other issues under increased scrutiny: namely, the dearth of women in leadership roles in the technology industry.

Twitter is in the spotlight right now because of its IPO, but this really sheds light on the larger issue. The “boys club” of Silicon Valley gets perpetuated organically, though. “You start companies with friends and people that you know,” Jeff points out. “And depending on your circle of friends, that might be a very diverse activity or it might not be.”

It’s worth mentioning that Facebook’s Board of Directors at the time of its IPO did not feature any women, either. Twitter is undergoing a much higher amount of scrutiny thanks to trouble with its competitor’s IPO only last year.

Four Your Information

How did you get involved with social media?
“Bacon is the answer.” While working at Optiem, Jeff created a (now deceased) blog called 6 Degrees of Bacon to illustrate to clients the importance of content creation and social media. The comedic slant to the blog helped show prospective clients the importance of Google, SEO, followers, and brought a good deal of business to Optiem.

What do you like best about social media?
“I love the serendipitous conversation. And just the ability for people to kind of break through the clutter and make each other’s day.”

What do you like least about social media?
Jeff dislikes the vanity, the narcissism. It’s an alluring thing to be able to talk about yourself, promote yourself, and build your fanbase. The great irony is that this entire interview is self-promotion for his book, so perhaps there is a time and a place for everything.

If you could do a Skype call with any living person, who would it be?
Jeff would like to Skype with President Obama. “I’d love to understand his reflections on [being demonized in so many corners of the world] and how you reach across the aisle with people who continue to question your citizenship, your commitment to democracy and capitalism, and all those things.”

See you next week!