I wrote here about the secret to a great client relationship (hint: it’s about how you communicate). Now I want to talk about a related issue: understanding how your audience is listening.

For example:

1. Have you ever had someone say, “Well, I tweeted about that”?
Okay, but I didn’t see your random tweet at a random-to-me time in a sea of tweets from the 500+ people I’m following.

2. Have you ever had someone tell you they posted the event to their LinkedIn Group?
Great, except I get a weekly digest and your event was three days ago.

3. Have you ever had multiple people send you Facebook notifications for the same event, even though you’re on the organization’s distribution list and so have obviously received at least one event invitation (and possibly signed up already)?
Gee, now you’re spamming me.

Here’s the problem: When you do this, you’re making assumptions about my behavior and how I use various social media channels. Get it right, and we’re cool. Get it wrong, and your message is lost. You become irrelevant. Or worse, I unfollow, unlink, or unfriend you.

Whether you’re asking directly, monitoring online behavior, or accessing analytics, it’s important to understand how people consume information.

What strategies do you use to understand how your audience is listening?

Note: This post originally appeared on IABC’s Communication World blog.

Photo by cogdogblog (Flickr).