“All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages.”
Have you ever been to a cast talkback at the end of a play?
A talkback, in theater terms, is simply when the cast takes time after the final bows to have a conversation with the audience about the show they performed, the cast of characters and their motivations. In simplest terms, the audience asks questions and the cast answers them.
Audiences are Different Now
Marketers love the word audience. Mike and I both spend time reviewing a client’s audience (or audiences, in some cases) in each of our strategic processes.
In marketing, an audience is what we call the receivers of the messages we are trying to communicate. It’s critical to for marketers to understand how each audience works and what they care about.
Yet, in today’s world – the one rampant with users of social media like you and I – audiences have the ability to talk back, much like in the setting of a theater. Today, being part of the audience is simply being on the other end of a public conversation.
Wikipedia’s definition of audience seems to illustrates this:
“An audience is a group of people who participate in a show or encounter a work of art, literature (in which they are called the “reader”), theater, music or academics in any medium. Audience members participate in different ways in different kinds of art; some events invite overt audience participation and others allowing only modest clapping and criticism and reception.”
Audience Talkback Strategy
What’s yours? Do you have one?
My friend, Jessica Manna, always has a contingency plan when she develops a strategy. Jess is good at looking at all the angles and being prepared for when things don’t go as planned, especially in times of crises. You and I both know that things very rarely go as planned.
A key element to remember when you are developing a strategy for organizational social media is that, oftentimes, your customers or community members might not have nice things to say about your brand. That can be uncomfortable.
What do you do then?
When you’re planning for your social media program, take the time to develop an audience talkback strategy early on. Start with listening and observation. You can use tools as simple as Google Reader or as advanced as Radian 6 or Webb Marketing’s Spiderfly.
Where to Start
A good place to start is with the phrase “[my company brand name] sucks” or “I hate [brand name].” See what comes up. If nothing, good for you. But if something does come up, pay close attention to the who, what, where, why, when and how they are telling all their friends about a poor experience.
Next, develop an action plan. Notice that I didn’t say a crises communication plan here. Taking action to embrace an angry customer or community member is what will make the difference. Talking back to them without a plan of action ready will only make the problem worse – and potentially more visible.
Your employees will need to be empowered with the ability to take the planned action, no matter what it is. If they have to cut through multiple levels of approval before they can respond and address the issues, it may be too late.
Sounds easy, right? Guess what? It’s not. But with the right leadership, the right plan and the right support and guidance from the top, it’s very doable.
What’s been your experience with a customer who’s gotten a bad taste? What did you do about it? What was the outcome?