08 Embrace Your Ghost Audience

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Welcome to the Market Inside Out Podcast with Suzanne Longstreet, Emma O’Brien, and Michelle Tresemer. It’s time to defuse the marketing minefield for entrepreneurs.

Cue the Ghost Busters theme, because today our marketing mavens bust open ghost audiences. If you’re an entrepreneur or solopreneur who despairs because your last three content posts received only a few likes or shares, it’s time to relax and trust the spirits. Suzanne, Emma, and Michelle are here to reassure you that there’s a ghost audience out there that you can’t see in metrics, and it haunts your website and social posts. But fear not! It’s a friendly crowd—think Casper not Zuul the Gatekeeper of Gozer. And this amorphous, passive crowd is reading your content, secretly shopping your website, and may just manifest as your next conversion.

You can’t see ‘em, but they’re here!

A ghost audience doesn’t show up on your radar because they’re passive. They fly under your metrics. Even so, they’re there.

Emma explains (00:32): “…when you put a post online and maybe you don’t get any engagement or you’re like, ‘Oh, darn. I only got five likes, like only five people liked my posts.’ We sort of assume the number of likes is how many people actually liked your [post]. But actually, there is this ghost audience, invisible people out there in social media land who are still seeing your content, possibly reading it, possibly loving it, but just don’t feel like clicking the like button. And so, I like to call this the ghost audience.

Conversions that Make You Believe in Ghosts (And Yourself)

It’s good for your mindset to realize you have a ghost audience, especially when you’re having a lull in social media engagement. Suzanne (01:30): “…it’s all too easy to throw up your hands when you’re not getting engagement and say, ‘I haven’t got enough likes…what the fuck am I doing? Why am I even in business? Because nobody’s liking it, nobody’s commenting, nobody’s sharing it.’ And then a year and a half later, somebody calls me and says, ‘I want to work with you.’ And it’s like, ‘What do you mean you want to work with me?’ ‘Well, I’ve been following you for the last year and a half, and I like what you have to say.’ And I’m like, ‘But you’ve never commented, you’ve never liked it, you’ve never engaged with it. Have we spoken?’”

Emma (02:13): “That happened to me just the other week. I got an inquiry from someone who has been following me for over a year. And I’m like, I don’t know who you are. Like, I’ve literally never seen your name before. I didn’t even really know we were friends. And yet he’s been a ghost member, a ghost audience who has been quietly, passively getting to know me through my marketing, but not like stroking my ego and hitting the like button every time I do something and making me feel good about what I’m doing.”

Your Ghost Audience Shops on the Q.T.

Michelle Tresemer (02:55): “I want to break this down a little bit to e-commerce…ghost audiences didn’t use to be a thing in pre-internet days. Think about it. If you wanted to buy something, you had to call [the company] to get the information. Now, you don’t have to. [Potential customers] go to your website, they look at your social media. They are secretly shopping around for what they’re looking for. They don’t have to give you their information.”

Keep in Mind the Following:

A high percentage of e-commerce shoppers research and shop on social media before you ever know they’re there.

In short, there are a lot of people looking on social media before they buy, even if they aren’t hitting like or sharing your posts.

Think About How You Shop

Ghost audiences aren’t all that mysterious. Think about how you investigate, research, and shop. You likely don’t truly interact with a brand until you’re well down that proverbial funnel.

Emma (03:46): “…just think about how you shop yourself, right? You’re like, hey, I want to buy a microphone, and let me just look at all the microphones and go to all the websites. And it’s like, don’t call me, I’ll call you. Right? Don’t bug me, I know what I’m doing. It’s the age of the savvy shopper. And yeah, we just want to do it ourselves.

“Same goes for B2B. Again, I don’t know what the specific number is, but it’s like, basically people are already like 70% down the funnel by the time they reach out; they’ve read everything, they’re totally educated. So yeah, people like to creep under the radar.”

People want to buy, they don’t want to be sold.”

Suzanne Longstreet

Embrace the Lurkers

Suzanne (04:57) defines lurkers as: “…somebody who’s constantly watching to see what’s going on. And then when they make the decision, and they have enough data that they want to make the decision, then they will engage with the person or buy the product that they want to buy.”

How Does Your Ghost Audience Affect Your Marketing Efforts?

Suzanne poses the 10,000 question (5:11): How is this going to affect your marketing when you now know that there are tens, or hundreds, or thousands of people consistently watching what you’re doing without engaging? Does that change how we need to be marketing?

Write for Your Ideal Customer, and Many Are Likely Part of Your Ghost Audience.

Emma (05:46): “…it’s just so easy to get hung up on the numbers, the vanity metrics, if you will: the likes, the views, the reach. And I think the advice is, you need to write for your ghost audience, not for the approval of likes, right? You just have to have faith that there are people out there seeing your stuff. At any given moment an ideal customer or client is reading your posts. So, write for them, just know there are eyeballs on it. Don’t get caught up on, oh, I only got this many likes. Just be consistent and just have faith that there’s tons of people out there. And just because they didn’t hit like doesn’t mean they might not ring you up in a couple months and say, ‘Hey, I want to work with you.’”

“If I wrote for who liked my posts, I’d be writing for my mom. Let’s be honest here.”

Michelle Tresemer

Suzanne (07:27): “…that’s why I have that graphic, that picture of all of my ideal clients, they are magazine cutouts of women entrepreneurs that I want to work with….And, those are the people that I write to. And so now, having heard about this ghost mindset, this ghost audience mindset, I’m now going to write to those women entrepreneurs and business owners who are in that and just remember that I’m reaching them.”

Like Billboards or Magazine Ads

Why We Should Consider this Ghost Audience, Even if it Can’t be Measured

Michelle (08:23): “…think traditional media. Think of a billboard or a magazine ad. We did not know a lot of the metrics, right? Digital makes us really spoiled, because we want to track absolutely everything, but for a billboard, you’re tracking how many cars drove on the freeway that might have seen the billboard. That’s how they’re priced, right? You’re getting charged by CPM (cost per thousand impressions). Magazine ads. Yes, we can have call tracking, we can use vanity URLs and special tracking. It’s a small percentage that we’re actually tracking.”

Emma (09:03): “But that’s also what I love about the ghost audience….I love the heart and soul of a message and articulating that. And a lot of what I do with brand, it doesn’t have that clear ROI, right?

It’s not like performance marketing. It’s not like, ‘Oh…I can connect the dot from this to that. This is something that you can’t quite quantify. And that’s what I like, because I think if you get too far into the head space of ‘Look at the numbers. They’re going up. Oh, they’re going down–do this,’ it takes some of the creativity and the spirit out of what you’re putting out there. And that’s why I like the ghost audience.”

Michelle Tresemer (09:59): “One, you’re absolutely right. The data can make us really bad marketers. And think of every Instagram influencer. If they only did it by the numbers, it would be nothing but hot chicks in bikinis, because that would get you the likes.

Sex sells. We would all become really shady people if we focused on nothing but the numbers. I can get you numbers, but it’s going to be gross.”

Final Advice: Keep Going, Keep Posting, Be Consistent and Patient

Suzanne (10:35): “…on those days when you had one or two likes, or you feel like nobody saw it, just remember that that one person might represent 10 or 15 or 2, it doesn’t matter. It’s just that you are reaching out and you’re connecting with somebody who needs your help.”

Emma says, “keep going,” and Suzanne says, “it’s a long game.”

Michelle (11:50): “It is. And I know Emma just went through this where she’s pushing on LinkedIn, and it took a little while to get the momentum. I took maybe three months off of really doing anything on social media. And then I started posting once a week on LinkedIn. I got three calls last week. None of those people liked a single post. I went back and checked. No likes, no comments. All three said, ‘I love what you’ve been putting on LinkedIn lately.’ It took a couple of weeks for that to happen, so be patient.”

Emma (12:43): “…for me, it’s whatever you can commit to consistently is the first place to start, right? So, if that’s one day a week, two, three, go for it. And then as you get comfortable, add a day. Add a day, and then feel good that you’ve actually been able to commit to it for a few weeks. And then keep adding, because that’s what I’ve done.”

Suzanne (13:21): “…even though you don’t have the engagement that you like, just know that there are people watching you, there are people who are considering, looking for what you have, the product or the service that you have. So, have faith, and keep posting, and keep showing up, and keep sharing your genius, because someday somebody’s going to knock on your door and tell you that they’ve been following you for months, days, years. So, keep talking to your ghost audience.”

Key Takeaways From Today’s Episode

  • A ghost audience is an amorphous category of people who remain invisible on social media. They see and maybe read your content, but they aren’t big on clicking the ‘like’ button or interacting with a comment.
  • A ghost audience is passive; it’s a category of people who get to know you through your marketing and only appear to you out of the blue when they’re ready to buy.
  • The ghost audience shops secretly and doesn’t like giving out information. A high percentage of e-commerce shoppers research and shop on social media before you ever know they’re there.
  • Keep writing for your ideal customer, for many are part of your ghost audience. Don’t get into the habit of writing only for those who hit “like.”
  • Like billboards or magazine ads, a lot of people will see your posts without interacting.
  • Know your ghost audience is there, even if you can’t directly measure them.
  • Worry less about vanity metrics and more about your authentic message to your ideal customer. Remember, there are plenty of shady-ass ways to get your social media numbers up, and you don’t want to be that person!
  • Finally, KEEP GOING, KEEP POSTING, BE CONSISTENT, AND BE PATIENT! Your ghost audience is out there, and they’ll show up when you really need a boost!

Thank you for listening to the Market Inside Out podcast with Suzanne Longstreet, Emma O’Brien, and Michelle Tresemer.

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