The progression of the online content creator has been a fascinating journey. Every blogger wanted to develop a bigger audience on social media. Every social media star wanted to become a YouTube celebrity. And every YouTuber is starting a podcast. All along the way, none of these formats was rendered obsolete. Blogs are very much alive and well, as are Instagram influencers, YouTube vloggers, and promising new podcasters alike.
It might go without saying, but it might also bear mentioning again. While some formats and business strategies might stick around, the biggest strength you can have is the ability to adapt quickly and effectively. You have to be willing to change with the times, swinging over to the next thing on a moment’s notice. There aren’t too many serious bloggers who would be caught dead on Blogger these days, right? And John Chow dot Com has gone through several iterations and design changes over the years too.
While it might be true that you’ve got to keep up with the times if you want to be successful, your exact approach to the type of content you create may not necessarily be so dynamic. Put another way, there are at least two different mindsets or principles you can follow as you keep blogging, vlogging, tweeting and podcasting.
Who Is Your Audience?
Content is king. Great content will always be king. The thing is that what one person might see as great content, another person might see as completely irrelevant or utter garbage. If you’re a huge Star Wars fan, an in-depth analysis of all the Easter eggs and subtle hints of what’s to come would be fascinating. If you have no interest in Star Wars, no matter how great that analysis is, you’re not going to read that article or watch that video.
In this way, you’ve got to find your audience… but do you need to keep your audience? Speaking of YouTubers who are becoming podcasters, the Fung Bros. recently started the A3N Podcast (and posted it on YouTube, of course). In that first episode with Philip Wang of Wong Fu Productions, Andrew Fung brings up a very important point. In deciding who your audience is, in determining who your target demographic is, are you taking the Rolling Stones approach or the Nickelodeon approach?
The Rolling Stones
The Rolling Stones have been hugely successful for decades. If you can believe it, the English rock band first formed way back in 1962. That’s nearly 60 years in business, pumping out music that their fans adore. Both Keith Richards and Mick Jagger are in the their mid-70s, and the latter of whom has an estimated net worth of around $360 million. Not bad, right?
But, let me ask you this: have the Rolling Stones really tried to tap into emerging trends to keep relevant with younger audiences? We certainly didn’t see the Rolling Stones roll into the grunge era of the 1990s, and we definitely don’t hear them on modern top 40 radio stations today. That has never been their strategy. They are who they are, and they know who their fans are and what they want.
As the Rolling Stones have gotten older, they’ve brought their fans along with them. The same people who loved going to their concerts in the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s are largely the same people who enjoy listening to their music today. They grew a huge following and they kept most of them, year after year, decade after decade.
Now, contrast this with how Nickelodeon works. The children’s programming giant is exactly that: a giant in children’s programming. The shows that they produce are targeted toward a specific age set. Once kids get beyond a certain age, they’re not interested in watching Nickelodeon shows anymore (aside from the nostalgia they might feel now and then).
The 19-year-old college student who adored watching shows on the network 10 to 15 years ago probably isn’t watching it anymore. And that’s fine by Nickelodeon, because they’ve got a steady batch of new viewers coming through every year. Every new batch of young kids are tuning in to the latest shows. Nickelodeon understands that they have these viewers for a certain age range, and then those viewers move on.
And it’s not just Nickelodeon and children’s programming either. There is all sorts of entertainment or content that is geared toward teenagers, or recent college grads, or people going through a midlife crisis. All these companies understand that they are looking for people within a certain age range, and once those people pass through that range, that’s probably it.
Where Do You Go from Here?
One approach is not necessarily any better than the other. Both the Rolling Stones and Nickelodeon have enjoyed tremendous success. What we can learn, though, is that you can’t be all things to all people, so you have to decide who your people are.
If you’re a family blogger, are you targeting only new parents? Or are you bringing your audience along on your journey as your own kids get older? If you have a podcast about marketing, do you start with beginner topics and evolve to more sophisticated discussions? Or does your subject matter get progressively more complex and advanced in later episodes?
In other words, are you Mick Jagger or SpongeBob Squarepants?