What Obama Can Teach Us About Finding Our Audience

Posted on April 12, 2014

American president Barack Obama caused quite a stir yesterday by starring on the unconventional online parody show “Between Two Ferns” hosted by comedian Zach Galifianakis.

It appears Obama’s reason for appearing on the show was to target an often ignored demographic of young Americans – what the New York Times refers to as “the connected-but-distracted generation.”

The move was to encourage fans of the popular comedy show – which has over 30 million viewers – to enroll for public healthcare offered by the country’s new Affordable Care Act.

While everyone seems to be blathering about “the dignity of presidency” and worrying about how unconventional the PR move was for Obama, I can’t help but think it serves as a lesson to us all about branching out and finding our potential audience – wherever they may be.

With more and more people neglecting traditional media sources like television and newspapers, it’s only fair that leaders, influencers and pundits start taking their message to where their listeners are really hanging out.

I’m not saying that all politicians should start using comedy as their new medium of choice, but there is something quite endearing about seeing a prominent figure in a more disarming setting. Just check out New Zealand prime minister John Key’s appearance on the Late Show with David Letterman.

Sure, Obama’s appearance was unorthodox, but he remains composed and conducts himself matter-of-factly. He is simply delivering an important message to a specific demographic on a strange new platform.

And the result? According to Tara McGuinness, the president’s Affordable Care Act spokesperson, Funny or Die became the No. 1 referral site for HealthCare.gov in the hours after Obama appeared on the show.

Whether you’re running a blog, company or social network, you need to get creative about finding your audience. This may involve you pulling an Obama and embracing a completely new communication platform.

Don’t get caught up in thinking that you have to do something the tried-and-true way. After all, as long as the people who want to hear your message hear it, it doesn’t matter where you find them.

So follow Obama’s example and do your research. Construct a profile of your potential reader or customer and figure out where they are getting their news, what they are watching.

Then draw up a list of unexplored places that you could take your blog or business. It may be a niche forum, a trending YouTube channel, a popular Podcast – anywhere that your people might be hanging out.

Your audience, like any large group, is extremely diverse. Just as the President of the United States can’t assume that he will connect with the entire American public using his regular platforms of engagement, you too cannot afford to limit yourself by refusing to branch out to attract your audience.

You may not need to go as far as staging an interview with a chubby comedian, but take a page out of Obama’s book and get creative!

You can watch the full video featured on Funny or Die here:

photo credit: Barack Obama via photopin cc

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