SmartPulse — our weekly nonscientific reader poll in SmartBrief on Social Media — tracks feedback from leading marketers about social media practices and issues.
This week, we asked: Did you use social media to follow or post content about Hurricane Sandy?
- I followed news about the storm via social networks but didn’t post: 46.26%
- I neither followed news about the storm nor posted to social networks about it: 25.85%
- I followed news about the storm on social networks and posted content: 23.13%
- I posted content about the storm to social networks but didn’t use them to follow news about the storm: 4.76%
Our readers’ responses about their social media habits during last week’s massive storm along the East Coast of the U.S. serve are a useful reminder of two enduring truths about social media communications.
- There are no universal interests. The storm was the most important story last week if you live in coastal New Jersey. If you live in the U.K., maybe not so much. Of course, it’s usually not that easy to tell who will and won’t care about an issue based on something as simple as geography. You need to learn about your fans and what they care about, instead of making assumptions, if you want to connect with people online. Of course, on their other hand …
- Silence isn’t a sign of disinterest. The number of people who will speak up on a topic is much smaller than the number of people reading. You need to be comfortable with the idea that your audience is there, even when they’re not talking back.
It’s easy to see topical issues as a magic bullet for content — and then to get discouraged if you don’t hear back from your fans immediately. Not all events are suitable for brand communications — brands that tried to capitalize on this storm suffered for it — but if you have a good understanding of your audience, talking about current events can be a great way to engage fans, even when they don’t talk back.