When developing any new brand or company, marketing efforts are almost always centralized around the question of how to appeal to an audience. Despite the importance of this concept, though, thinking in this manner bears the danger of solely considering the audience in the context of an “opposite” party. While it’s true that the audience is a separate entity from the marketer, new businesses should keep in mind that they can be a valuable resource to tap into as well.

The First RT (from http://intrepidmg.wordpress.com/2014/03/25/twitter-celebrates-8th-birthday/)

The First RT (from http://intrepidmg.wordpress.com/2014/03/25/twitter-celebrates-8th-birthday/)

In his article “Startups, Partner With Your Audience” in the Wall Street Journal, marketing consultant Brian Honigman explores how the company/audience partnership was crucial to the success of one of the most ubiquitous tech startups of our age, Twitter. The Twitter that first launched in 2006 was a stripped-bare version of the Twitter we’re familiar with now. All it contained was the 140-character microblogging function. Its current defining features, though, came from outside the Twitter offices and from the minds of its users.

The origin of the Retweet can be pinpointed to a suggestion from the user Eric Rice (@ericrice). It was then propagated across Twitter until it reached the company’s headquarters. The “hashtag” is an even more iconic example of this notion. Twitter user Chris Messina (@chrismessina) detailed the functionalities of the “hashtag,” which was brought to the consideration of Twitter developers. Both of these were later formally adopted by Twitter after their informal introductions online and were integral steps toward creating the explosion of users that followed.

By following Twitter’s example, startups can then expand their companies in a way that’s both effective and easy. If you’re having trouble thinking of how to appeal to your audience, an easy solution is to take to social media and ask straight-up “What do you want to see?” By partnering with your audience, you can get a clear idea of what does or doesn’t work. Your company’s responsiveness will also help in creating a sense of efficiency, reestablishing your validity, besides developing a personal touch that will expand your audience further.

Though some might see this tactic as a cop-out, fearing that it might give the impression of being incapable of producing your own content, the resulting benefits of doing so will produce far better results than maintaining static marketing efforts.

Constance Kaita, MSD Intern