Why You Won’t See “Target Audience” or “Drive Traffic” on this Blog

I am an impassioned believer in the culture of social media. I believe that social strategy works because of the culture and those that sidestep, shortcut or throw money at it to make it work will be sorely disappointed.

What is the culture of social media?

The culture is founded on shared information, transparency (before it became a buzzword), authenticity, real, personal experiences, (yes, Virginia, even in business experiences). The culture eschews the idea of TARGETING prospects and audiences. The beauty of blogging and subscribing to content via RSS feeds changed the way the world consumes information. We were given the power to choose what we take in; what we absorb. The onus was put, at last, on us, to opt in to the information we want and conversely, block that which we don’t.

The Currency of the Digital Age

Instead of TARGETING people (and that is an unfriendly, militaristic concept, isn’t it? Are they targets because we are shooting at them?) we, instead, create content that is genuine and interesting and in doing so attract those who are interested in the topic, the service, the product, etc. We pull in people who want to read, watch or listen to what we have to say. If it’s five or 500,000, it doesn’t matter, as long as the people who arrive feel rewarded, and honor us by paying for what we offer with their attention, the currency of the digital age.

Herding Cattle, Leading Lemmings

Look: I’m a small business person. I am an entrepreneur. I want eyes on my website and know that when those numbers increase, the warm leads I have grow and turn into new business opportunities. But there’s no cattle prod here. There’s no workaround that is consistent with the practice of developing authentic, solid business relationships. Any quick fix ┬áthat promises to “drive traffic to your site!” is not consistent with the values of those doing business today. It’s not a long term, big picture view of building a business that values people, their opinions and their dollars.

Decide what kind of business you want to be in, and engage accordingly.


  • KenMueller says:

    Great stuff, MJ. It all comes down to having the proper mindset and perspective that understands how inbound marketing works, and why it’s preferable to some of the old school methods. Trying to force the methods of traditional marketing into the world of Social Media will come back to burn you.

  • jshev says:

    Great article. Do you think we can kind of choose our audience to a certain extent by crafting (quality) content in a particular way? A kind of passive targeting, if you will? Kind of like the old axiom”dress for the job you want to have” — writing for the audience you want to have?

  • EmmaofCEM says:

    Ha, I like your analysis of the term “target.” It is a bit abrasive, isn’t it? How come nobody recognized the hostility there before? Are we really that deaf to aggressive vernacular? I suppose if something is used frequently enough it’s easy to develop immunity to it, so it’s refreshing to have some sort of Voltaire-ian recognition paid every once in a while.

    I’m also glad you’re one of those social media peeps who shucks the snake oil in favor of honesty and integrity when it comes to marketing. Keep it coming!

  • Marijean says:

    @EmmaofCEM Thank you Emma. I read david meerman scott ‘sbook The New Rules of Marketing and PR and Scoble and Israel’s book Naked Conversations back in 2005 or so and since have been on a path of counseling business to be personal and genuine in interactions. It’s not a path I’ve strayed from in six years and for my clients, and my own business, it has worked very well.

  • Marijean says:

    @jshev Why yes, I certainly do, but I cringe at “passive targeting.” Think of it as attracting. I write about an organic, ethical, authentic approach to communications for business and therefore attract business people who desire this approach in marketing their own products or services. It’s not likely the “get rich quick” short cut takers are going to be attracted to my content, or to stick around long to learn more. I’m not interested in attracting that kind of business, and do not write content attractive to that audience.