Have you ever noticed, that you talk to different people in different ways, and when it comes to trying to talk to them all at once, it can get confusing?
Think about it. The way you talk to the guys at the bar just isn’t how you talk to your grandma. And it isn’t even just what you say, it’s how you say it. The words you use, the language, how professional or casual you sound, and which generational or regional slang you use.
You might feel fine cheerfully telling a colleague at work that you still can’t really understand your email program. But would you tell that to a client?
When you are writing an article, a blog post, or what-have-you, which is targeted at professionals in your field of interest, would you feel comfortable sending it to a family member? Or an old high-school friend who knows you don’t really sound that fancy in real life? Sometimes yes, sometimes no.
I have noticed this sometimes becomes a problem when it comes to social networking, blogging, and the like. Should I update my Facebook status with news about my cat, or with a link to the latest Internet Marketing product I’ve just fallen in love with?
Well most of my family members and childhood friends could give a hoot about the latest IM software and they might wonder why I am bringing it up. What, am I going to try to sell them a vacuum cleaner next?
Then again, I doubt that a fellow Internet Marketer wants to read a page full of information about how other marketers’ pets and gardens are doing … A bit of a personal touch here and there is fine, but that’s something else.
Now when you take a step back you can see that this might apply to a lot of things – MySpace, Twitter, Facebook, your blogs, what you write about, and how you write it. What pictures will you post? Is it going to be a professional, conservative, business-like shot? Or is it the time your Christmas tree fell on you with the dog following shortly after?
Have you ever wanted to create a personal blog, but then realized you didn’t exactly know how broad your audience should be? At first thought one might think, well, as broad as possible.
But lets face it. A lot of us feel uncomfortable speaking freely on business-related matters when we know family is listening in. For whatever reason. And vice versa. I remember Dustin posted about this a while back and it really hit home because I’ve experienced it myself.
One way of getting around it when it seems to get too far out of hand is to simply use two profiles – for example, if you use a pen name online for business, and your real name for personal friends and family. The two overlap sometimes, but it can make it easier. It also depends on the terms of service of whatever social network you are using.
You might also use different social networks to focus on different audiences. For example, your Twitter feed might concentrate on online contacts, while your time on Facebook would be dedicated to offline friends and relations. This way you also avoid repeating yourself to the same audiences on two different networks.
There is another aspect of this. Family is one audience, friends are another, fellow Internet Marketers are another, and clients or customers are actually a forth.
So who is your blog targeted toward? Are you:
- Sharing your experiences with your peers, giving and receiving advice, suggestions, or encouragement?
- Or are you mentoring others who generally have less experience than you?
- Are you giving your clients and potential customers valuable information and teaching them new things?
- Are you sharing your personal life in order to make yourself more real, or for the purpose of branding?
- Or is it just plain personal.
When you haven’t fully ascertained which one it is, it can sometimes get confusing.
This blog, for example, falls more under the category #1. I would think Holly’s blog comes under category #2.
I build sites for clients occasionally. But truthfully, I’m creating a another different blog which will be more targeted toward them. I wouldn’t refer them to this blog. Would I calmly refer clients to my personal story about all the mistakes I made in the last two years? That would be funny, but not so professional!
At the same time, if I wrote a post about why we submit articles, and how the author bio box is used, that would be great for my clients. It’s all new to them. ” Page Rank? Never heard of it. What’s THAT? Wow!” But if I posted such a thing on this blog, most of my readers would wonder if I’d lost my mind. “What does Anna think we are, a bunch of idiots? She’s trying to teach us what a backlink is!”
The upshot of this, the moral of the story … I’m not sure. But I think it’s important sometimes to take a step back and look at who your main target audience is. Both when you first launch a blog or website, and later on, as it evolves (and sometimes takes on new meaning).
Sometimes you can mix your target audiences, sometimes it’s probably easier to keep them separate.
What I have found, is that in cases where I did not have things separated out enough, I actually developed a backoff on posting certain types of things. I found myself disabling the Wordbook plugin in my blogs (which posts my latest articles to Facebook), because I doubted my relatives would understand why I am suddenly trying to teach them about fuel cells!
You get the idea.
I’m curious about whether others have encountered this phenomenon, and how you dealt with it. How it was sorted out … or wasn’t it.
At the end of the day, you’d probably feel stupid talking to your bar pals the same way you talk to your grandma … And maybe you wouldn’t dare talk to her like you talk to them!