Paying (for) attention.

by Roger Pynn

A Forbes guest post by HootSuite CEO Ryan Holmes (@invoker) offers great insight into the evolution of what people are paying attention to and why.  What he’s talking about is how business has learned that the basics taught by public relations practitioners for decades is even more applicable with the advent of social media networks like Twitter.

I think he’s right that paid social media is set to surge, both because the nature of the beast(s) eschews all the failures of traditional paid advertising and because the medium forces communicators to target not only demographics but psychographic motivations of their audience.

Demographics tell us everything we want to know about an audience.  As Holmes points out, “Tweets can be targeted by country and city, gender and even device.  If so inclined, a brand could blast out a Promoted Tweet to female Blackberry users in Tanzania whose interests include enterprise software and college basketball.“

Psychographics may tell us why that same Tanzanian female techie is interested in college basketball.  And so, I believe, the real surge will come as social media networks sharpen their most important tool … research.  They’re doing plenty of it.  The challenge will be to ask what PR people have long held is the most important question:  “why?”

It is far more important to the success of paid social media that advertisers understand motivation.  Then those posts from people you don’t know may become so intriguing that you become their follower, their friend … and hopefully their customer.

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