Be there for your audience

friendshipFrom time to time I’m called in to the Finnish Broadcasting Company to sit in as an ”expert” on their social media panel – basically discussing the latest going ons in the world of social media, what new solutions or services are out there, what the most talked about topics are, and why we should care. It’s an interesting assignment that correlates pretty well with what I’m doing otherwise, and I get to step back into my old role of radio professional, which I still find pretty neat.

In the course of researching for my next appearance I stumbled upon a slightly disconcerting research paper, stating that, on average, we can only count on four of our Facebook friends in a crisis. The research – which was conducted in the UK – shows that the average Facebook user has approximately 150 friends, and that on average we can only count on 15 people to express sympathy, much less help out if times get rough.

This got me thinking about our responsibility as content creators. No, we’re not creating something that is necessarily real. No, we’re not childhood friends of people. No, we won’t set up coffee dates or lunches with our audience. But what we create – inspirational, engaging, moving, unsettling, vulnerable, loveable, disgusting, scary, heart-warming characters and stories – can be as important to people as the majority of their fleeting contacts on social media.

This, in turn, makes us responsible. Just as we can’t ignore a friend’s plea for help or advice or guidance, if we, in our hearts, want to consider us real friends, we can’t ignore our audience’s needs either. There’s simple things, like if we have committed to a release schedule, we must adhere to it. If we have committed to a tone, to a feel of our content, we must maintain it (or have a very good reason to tamper with it). But also more complex things – we need to continuously listen to our audience and research them, so that we know them and can anticipate their mood swings, their changing behaviour and what way they’ll be moving in the near future.

If the average person can only count on four of their ”friends” on social media, what we create should be the fifth.

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