Developing Your Audience: Going Beyond the #Hashtag

#Facebook, #Twitter, #Instagram, #Youtube, #LinkedIn, #Hashtag… Mastering the art of the hashtag is certainly a must to develop an audience and gain its loyalty… In fact, it would be more appropriate to claim that it’s a good start given developing an audience now indisputably depends on much more complex strategies, such as a discoverability strategy. It has even become a requirement among funders.

Discoverability has become the bread and butter of strategic consultant Marie-Ève Berlinger. “For some time now, the Bell Fund requires that we file a discoverability plan with each project, whether it’s a webseries or a documentary. The goal is to help producers document their content so that they can retrieve it at any time in the future,” she explains.

Crédit photo: Émélie Rivard-Boudreau, Fonds des médias du Canada
At the Forum Avantage numérique, which unfolded in Rouyn-Noranda from March 26 to 30, Marie-Ève Berlinger provided participants with discoverability and audience development tools. The same thing you say? Mmmmm… It would seem, but not so. Some of the participants, who had attended both of the consultant’s presentations, made no difference between the two. Nevertheless, there are certain unmistakable subtleties between them. “Discoverability has taken a highly promotional tangent,” acknowledged the speaker. However, literally speaking, it’s not necessarily a marketing practice. It contributes to […].”

For example…

As Marie-Ève Berlinger suggested during her presentation, you simply need to enter the word ‘fourchette’ in your favourite search engine to generate a good example. At the top of the list of search results will appear the official page of the romantic webseries bearing the same name as well as a series of hyperlinks leading to content having to do with the series. In the right-hand margin, a Wikipedia universal encyclopaedia sidebar also describes what the Fourchette series is, thereby relegating to the second level the good old utensil that we use on a daily basis at the kitchen table.

All that results from a well-orchestrated discoverability plan, as the digital consultant tried to illustrate. “It’s not just a referencing strategy. You need to structure your data, i.e., establish links between its digital components to be able to have traces, develop more extensive knowledge cards, which are in fact the results displayed on the right side [of the screen] in a search engine.” To get there, Marie-Ève Berlinger strongly recommends the use of collaborative platforms such as Wikipedia, IMDB and AlloCiné. “It’s not necessarily easy, but the fact remains that it’s a good way to make content eternal. However, there are things that must not be done. You must especially avoid promoting yourself when writing up the text. And, theoretically, you are not supposed to create your own Wikipedia page in the first place,” she warns.

Serge Bordeleau, a filmmaker from Val-d’Or, in the Abitibi region, recently obtained money from the Bell Fund to finance the second season of his virtual reality documentary project titled Abitibi360. He is thereby entering the world of the discoverability plan for the first time. “In the past, I did not give as much thought to distribution. I saw production and promotion as two different activities,” he explained. Now, the creator must create in advance content that complements his initial project, the virtual reality series in the case at hand. Among other things, a podcast and a Wikipedia page will be part of these complements that will end up forming a whole in the eyes of the public and search engines. “As a producer, it enables me to further explore my project. I find it very stimulating,” he comments on an optimistic tone.

Adopting a strategy

Where do you want to lead people first? To your YouTube channel? The distributor’s platform? The ticket counter? Once this crucial question has been answered, the strategy can be implemented, explains Marie-Ève Berlinger. Sharing one’s content, conversing with one’s community, showing transparency and wishing to improve oneself are four key principles to keep in mind. “It cannot be the business of a single person,” she told her audience. “Those people, you need to entertain them, talk to them, listen to them and answer their questions… Not only will they be part of the project, but they will also eventually become its ambassadors.” Even the setbacks are worth sharing, according to the digital consultant. “It’s also a question of transparency, of wanting to improve and of saying ‘We’re not perfect. We live in an era of authenticity and ‘fails’ therefore work!’”

However, even before wanting to distribute content, it’s important to draw up the list of what you want to share as well as to establish a calendar. The synopsis, the production team, the locations, characters and episodes are exemples of what will be gradually shared. The same logic will apply to audience development. Before finding a new one, it is fundamental to identify each of the team’s members and partners. Who is active on which platform? Who is whose audience? Who shares what when and who DOES NOT SHARE what? The answers to all of these questions will guide the implementation of the strategy. “You need to have objectives, consult people and move ahead in the same direction,” suggests Marie-Ève Berlinger. “You have to avoid giving the impression that two different campaigns are under way.”

And what about those famous hashtags? What is their importance in this strategy? “If you don’t use any, you’ll have less of a chance of being discovered. However, you may justly decide that you don’t feel like being discovered and therefore not use any!” states Marie-Ève Berlinger on a humoristic tone. But if you do decide to use some, you must take the time to analyze the impact in order to determine if the reach is good or not. #test #audience #someoneattheotherendoftheline…

Émélie Rivard-Boudreau
Like some kind of tree, Émélie Rivard-Boudreau has been rooted since her childhood in Val-d'Or, Abitibi. From there, she has been doing her work as an independent journalist since 2013. As a freelancer, she writes regularly for the newspaper La Terre de chez nous, Rando Quebec magazine and the and Ricochet websites. She also works as a radio and web journalist for Radio-Canada. Her texts have been published in many Quebec media including La Presse, Quebec Science, Journal de Montréal, as well as the magazines KMAG and Oxygène.
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