Head of Marketing Services Warren Davidson explains the truth behind getting reach and engagement on your social platforms.
Across the pond, a Social Fresh Conference was recently held and there was a presentation given by Jay Baer that has caused quite a stir – Shotguns Trump Rifles: Why Social Success is now a Volume Play. If you didn’t catch it, you can see the slides, read the takeaways or watch his original presentation here. We all know that when it comes to engaging with an audience on social media, reliable reach is more important than reach.
Jay outlined two approaches to reaching your audience – via sheer volume over every social channel (the ‘shotgun’ approach) or via ‘outstanding content’ over a limited number of social channels in order ‘to build a great community’ (the ‘rifle’ approach). The truth is not as simple as that.
A shotgun approach simply will not work
Let’s deconstruct this messy premise.
If you were to attempt to engage with your audience on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram, Tumblr, Myspace (you get the idea) – it would have to be sure there was a relevant audience on that platform. As an example, let’s pretend you are looking for a financial executive. Its social media strategy thought process might be something like this:
Are there financial executives on LinkedIn? Yes.
Are there financial executives on Instagram. Maybe…
Are they on Myspace? What’s Myspace?
The shotgun approach – championed by Jay – involves bombarding multiple channels with content to overcome the poor reliable reach. Inevitably, the channels and audience will suffer from a lack of quality curation as the marketing team’s workload is spread too thinly. If the recruitment company were to focus solely on four platforms (let’s say Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn), it would be able to locate its target audience and engage with them much more closely. This is the rifle approach. It would also boost its reputation by providing appropriate, well-curated content that actually resonates with the target audience, rather than rushing to find vaguely relevant content or blogs, interviews or infographics that have been quickly put together just to have something to share.
What about the lack of reliable reach?
Jay was right about social media having a poor level of reach. This is partly due to the ‘stream’ layout of channels, making it is easy for your content go unnoticed. The number of algorithmic factors that feed into the equation that works out who should see your content ranks into the thousands and beyond – it’s immensely complicated. However, understanding how user influence, number and method of engagement and interactions and other factors such as geography and assumed relevancy only make up a small fraction of acquiring success.
The solution: the other option
As user numbers on social media continue to swell, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to reach the target audience. The shotgun approach may result in more of your posts being noticed, but it is a time-inefficient, poor-quality method of doing so. The rifle approach is at the whim of ever-dwindling organic reach. There is a third approach. Social media giants are now placing so much emphasis on paid marketing services to guarantee reliable reach. The tools available to measure performance and identify success are comprehensive and highly effective. The misconception that social media is a free ticket into reaching your target audience is damaging hundreds of businesses every day in missed opportunities. Such heavy weighting is placed on paid reach – you can even view it for yourself by using a sliding scale for each post (below is an example from Facebook):
Just £120 increases reach from approximately 300 to anywhere between 46,000 - 120,000 – an increase of approximately 15,000% - 40,000%
Those who aren’t taking advantage of this enormous return are missing a trick. You can specify who receives your advertisement beyond the gender, age and ‘other’ visible. Those people who will see the advertisement all have an interest in the sector stated. Customisable targeting is a fantastic way to ensure your time spent on social media isn’t wasted. Spending a little more to guarantee reach rather than wondering why all your efforts are being ignored is more likely to provide a real return on investment and, judging by the lack of recruitment-focused campaigns using paid advertisement on social media, a way to position yourself ahead of the competition. Log onto one of your social channels and experiment with the predicted reach yourself. Then, compare it to your current reach. Combining the rifle approach with paid advertisement is the only way to build up quality, reliable engagement with your audience.
If you would like to talk to me about this to see how 4MAT can help you achieve success with social media, please don’t hesitate to email or phone me.