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Saturday, July 2, 2011

Where is Your Audience?

Google+ is all the rage right now. For those that can get in, it's all they can talk about on Google+. For those that can't get in, it's all they can talk about outside of Google+. Or so it seems - that's what the people I follow and pay attention are doing. It doesn't mean that's what the people in your network are doing, and in fact, there are many people out there that don't even know what Google+ is at the moment - I would predict that's the majority right now.

Google+ is all about "Circles". We all have different types of "Circles" of friends. Each of these "Circles" is a different audience and each of them probably talks about different types of things. I have an entire circle of hundreds of LDS friends (I work for the LDS Church) on Google+, and their conversations are much different than the Circle I have of Tech bloggers and influencers. At the same time I have circles that aren't even on Google+. My family, for instance, minus one or two, are all over on Facebook - that's where I go to talk about family related stuff, and you'll probably find a much more personal "me" over there. In fact, if that's your audience, come see me over there.

At the same time, I have certain "circles" over on Twitter that don't exist on Facebook or Google+ - for instance, I'll hear a lot more about what my Twitter employee friends are up to over there. Or, on LinkedIn, I have "circles" of professional friends - if I ever want to hire, or have a professional-related question, you better bet I'll go to LinkedIn for such. The way I met people like Robert Scoble and Chris Pirillo was on Friendfeed of all places.

Did you know that Myspace is still one of the most popular networks for kids age 13-18? Now, that's quickly diminishing as kids move over to Facebook, but as a marketer, I'd consider going to Myspace if my audience is 13-18 year olds. That would be a major part of my business strategy.

The future of "Social Networks" aren't social networks at all. The fact is, and Charlene Li at Altimeter Group has said this numerous times, social networks will "be like air" in the future. They will be integrated into everyday "circles" that you participate in.

For instance, at work many of use use Yammer to associate with other coworkers. It makes much more sense to participate on Yammer than Google+ if I'm to communicate with coworkers - there are many networks like this. The future will be full of these types of branded "circle" networks.

Imagine branded social networks for your company, or the ability to collaborate in a social way via your High School or College's website with your classmates. You'll never have to go to a site like Facebook or Google+ or Twitter to communicate with those closest to you, and they'll all talk with each other. Or what if a site like FamilySearch.org or Ancestry.com enabled families to communicate better with each other in a branded way, just for families? There would be no need to go to Facebook to communicate with family members any more.

As social networks are able to communicate better and better with each other, and more and more standards are built to federate the different circles you participate in, you won't go to Facebook.com or Google+ or Twitter. You'll go to the brands and the areas you're most familiar with and your friends and family will "just be there". Those are where your real "circles" are.

The fact is no social network is going to be a "Facebook killer" or "Twitter killer" or even "Myspace killer" (remember the stat I shared above?). If anything kills any of these it will be branded experiences that make it easier for you to communicate in the environments you're most comfortable with. In the end, it's about where your audience is, who you want to communicate with, and the best places to do that.

This will be different for every person out there - every individual, every professional, every family member, and every marketer. We all have different audiences and it's up to you to decide which environments are the best places to reach those audiences.

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