Reliable Reach

Reliable Reach

Reliable ReachLast week in Orlando, Social Fresh held the Social Fresh EAST conference, a single-track social media event with no panels, and all speakers given 25 minutes to bring their best social mojo to the stage.

And they did.

I won’t attempt to do justice by recapping the awesome content presented over a two day period.

But I will try and relate how one concept, Reliable Reach (expounded upon by social marketer extraordinare Jay Baer) is not just a problem in Social Media, but is a more general problem in even extremely localized marketing and communications.

Imagine you are a person of influence, like Jay, who has 122,000 followers on Twitter. Just because one sends out a tweet to those followers, doesn’t mean 122,000 people will actually be reached by that message. They’re doing something else. They’re away from their desks. They’re working. Maybe only a small fraction, say a couple of thousand, actually see the message.

That small fraction of audience that saw the message represents the reliable reach of that message.

Instagram and email have high reliable reach. Facebook and Twitter do not (though, arguably, Twitter has more reliable reach than Facebook).

The idea that Jay was hammering home was, that as social media channels become more popular and monetizable, reliable reach is restricted by pay-to-play, and that “rifling” high value content to a single media channel is less effective than “shotgunning” lesser value content to many media channels, in order to improve reliable reach.

Now, think about messaging within your organization; in my case, a small liberal arts college. What are the communications channels with reliable reach?

There are emails. There are listservs. There’s the website. There’s the daily news blast announcing what’s for lunch. There are trustee and alumni newsletters. There’s the school magazine. There’s earned media. There are a myriad number of social media subgroups on a plethora of social media sites. There is the student press. And there are the crowded bulletin boards across campus, crammed with band flyers, events, and speaker announcements.

So many channels. So little reliable reach.

Now, to apply Jay’s reasoning, one would need to hit as many of these hyper-local channels as possible, in order to attain maximum reliable reach. Even if you were to craft a beautiful, high value piece of content in one channel, there would be swaths of people who “live” only in the other channels who will be outside the influence of your messaging.

This is a very tall order – and also very discouraging.

Jay Baer’s advice was to add more people, to fill these channels with content.

But you probably don’t have that option. If you’re in higher education (at least, these days) I guarantee you’re not going to go out and hire people simply to improve reliable reach.

It’s not unwillingness – it’s economics.

So – what to do?

I believe the only approach one can reasonably expect to be able to do, in at least trying to fill as many channels of content as one can to improve maximum reach, is to atomize your content, with the explicitly designed intent of repurposing all content.

Design your video content to be remixed into multiple channels. Lay out stories in digestible chunks. Shop blog posts out  to earned media channels. Create cross-functional teams (IT working with Communications working with Admissions working with Development) that are intent upon creating and sharing all content.

I claim that not only is this approach vital to maximizing reliable reach, it’s the only way that small companies and organizations stand a chance of getting attention in an evermore balkanized attention economy.

The road ahead doesn’t look to be getting any easier. Our communication channels will continue to have diminished reliable reach, even as we are more ubiquitously connected.

We have to become smarter, and more reliant on our colleagues, in order to make sure our stories are told, they way we want to tell them, to the people we wish to tell them to.



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