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The Difference Between a Crowd and an Audience

July 31, 2011
difference between crowds and audiences

In a former life, I was the lead singer of a band. Believe it or not, I used to get on stage, play guitar and sing, and not everyone booed.

We had a demo CD, T-shirts, and a handful of people who would show up to our gigs who weren’t blood-related.

As aspiring rock stars, we’d play at just about any venue that would let us get on stage. We played at birthday parties, frat parties, dive bars and bar mitzvahs, hookah lounges, and on occasion, we’d get the opportunity to open for bands that were way out of our league (read: people PAID to see them play).

On one said occasion, we were asked to open up for a local heavy metal band that had a cult-like following and popularity that rivaled college-town drinking specials. In other words, these guys were hardcore and they looked it. So did their fans. (Disclosure: these guys were probably the nicest guys around, but their fans weren’t…as welcoming).

So when our fresh faces took the stage, tuned our guitars, and broke into some Tom Petty, we didn’t exactly bring the house down. In fact, we weren’t even sure if the house knew we were there. No one paid attention to us. We got ignored. Our budding egos were nipped and we questioned ourselves as musicians.

That’s when I learned the difference between a crowd and an audience.

But in the media world, it’s not always this obvious. And oftentimes, marketers blur the line between the two.

Maybe it’s due to pressure to make numbers (i.e. “We need more followers on Twitter! Go get some!”) or the erroneous notion that in advertising bigger is better (i.e. “Once we get a million uniques, THEN we can sell some ads”). Maybe it’s just the way we’re used to measuring success.

Whatever it is, it’s dead wrong.

A crowd just happens to be there. An audience actually wants to be there.

A crowd is indifferent. An audience is engaged.

When you take your message to the street, don’t be real-life spam.

Learn about people. Get to know them. And if they seem like they might like what you have to offer, ask them if they would mind if you shared it with them.

Getting their buy-in is the most important thing you can do as a marketer. And it’s the difference between shouting at a crowd, and singing to an audience.

[image: US Army Africa on Flickr]

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If you liked this, try:

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  3. 4 Lessons from Matt Drudge on Serving Your Audience
  4. Fighting Words: Marketing Lessons From the UFC
  5. Is That Your Blog Talking to Itself in the Corner?

Tagged as: advertising, Audience, Branded Content, Building Community, Buzz, Content Marketing, Content Strategy, Customer Service, relationships

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