Extend your reach to spread your ideas
So, do you have content you want to share? A book? A podcast? A blog?
Or maybe you want to help your favorite cause gain market visibility?
Or you just want a user-friendly guide to things like building a personal brand (both online and offline), using social media smartly, or how to increase the “shareability” of the ideas you are you sure other people will like it?
Becky Robinson is ready to help. She is the founder of Weaving Influence, a boutique marketing firm that guides established and emerging thought leaders to break through the current wall of information density.
Robinson’s new book is Reach: Create the largest possible audience for your message, book, or cause.
No matter where you are on the continuum of experience getting your ideas to market, you’ll find a ton of value in this book. Using a four-part framework of value, consistency, longevity, and generosity, Robinson shows how to expand your impact in today’s crowded marketplace.
Rodger Dean Duncan: Throughout your book, you emphasize that your goal is to help people add value, not necessarily gain fame or fortune. What metrics do you use to assess value?
Becky Robinson: I believe value can be measured by your ability to help, educate and inspire readers. However, perceived value is not universal, nor static throughout a person’s life. What I found value at 20 is not the same content I find value in at 50. What I have found valuable as a parent of young toddlers is not the same content that I find value in as a parent of young adults.
For anyone who wants to create value, it helps to have a target audience in mind and understand their interests, needs, and goals. If a creator produces content with the needs of their audience in mind, and does so skillfully and creatively, their audience will generally recognize and appreciate this value.
If I’m looking to assess the value of the content I create, I can ask myself: Does this content meet the needs of my target audience? Is this content accessible to my audience? Will it help, educate and/or inspire them? Will it cause them to take actions that had not been considered or pursued before?
Duke: Having impact (reach), you say, requires a commitment to four things: value, consistency, longevity, and generosity. Why are you focusing on these four?
Robinson: As I have interviewed and worked with successful thought leaders over the years and studied their approaches, these four factors have emerged as universal themes. It’s not possible to build traction for a post if you’re not adding value to audiences. You can’t become memorable if you don’t show up regularly. You can’t have a big impact if you don’t stay in time. While generosity may seem like an unexpected element, people who give of themselves and their content seem to be magnetic in attracting audiences.
Duke: Which of the four commitments seems to be particularly difficult for people working to promote a message or a cause? Why?
Robinson: By far the most difficult of the four commitments is consistency. What I hear from thought leaders is that they have high demands on their time. They juggle multiple competing priorities. The commitment to consistently add value to online spaces can seem overwhelming. And because it takes time to gain traction with online content sharing, some thought leaders get discouraged because they don’t see results fast enough.
Duke: You talk about the “influence gap” as the difference between how a person presents themselves online and how they present themselves offline. How does understanding this gap help a person know where to focus to expand their reach?
Robinson: Generally, people easily understand the influence gap. If we focus all or most of our attention on adding value to offline audiences, we limit our influence to only those people we can reach in person. We are missing the opportunity to exponentially expand the potential of our reach. Showing up online removes geographic and time barriers and allows us to expand our influence.
The first way to bridge the influencer gap is to create a web presence that you own and control (usually a thought leadership or corporate website) and make sure it’s comprehensive and up-to-date. Your website is where to share and catalog the value you offer the world. It should clearly communicate what you offer to the audience and your content should be easily accessible. By creating this web presence, you ensure that you present yourself online in the same powerful way you present yourself in real life.
Duke: Your scope framework emphasizes online presence. What are the most critical first steps for this, and what are the keys to maintaining a strong online presence?
Robinson: As I mentioned earlier, building a powerful web presence starts with your own website. Once you’ve created and are managing a website, it helps to get permission to keep in touch with people who are interested in your work. If your website visitors accept your communications, email provides you with a reliable communication channel to consistently reach your audience.
Developing and sharing content on social media is the next step. Social networks allow us to find and establish relationships with people, to interact and to dialogue with them. Ideally, when we meet people through social media, we pique their interest enough to visit our website and give permission to keep in touch via email.
Durability is essential. For those who are just starting to use digital marketing tools to reach their audience, there is a tendency to over-commit and set ambitious goals regarding the frequency of content creation. Others spread themselves too thin trying to create content on too many platforms. The key is to be realistic with your commitments to creating and sharing content. Start small. Grow as you can. Drop some ideas. Take your time.
Duke: You say, “We not only have to take our offline life online, we also have to take our online life offline. ” Please specify.
Robinson: Showing up in online spaces is a useful way to expand our ability to reach a wider audience, as we are not limited by time and space. Connecting personally – through phone conversations, zoom calls or in-person interactions – allows us to deepen our relationships and have a bigger, more memorable and lasting impact.
Duke: Many people are put off by what they see as unfair and highly partisan practices by some social media giants. If they don’t want to ignore this ongoing debate, what are their alternatives to online channels? Or should they just take a deep breath and keep “the big ones” in their media toolbox?
Robinson: There are many reasons to opt out of social media platforms, and I’ve struggled with it myself at times. Do the negative impacts of social media platforms outweigh the benefits? This is an individual choice that opinion leaders must take into account. As things stand, the decision to avoid social media channels is likely a decision to limit the reach of your content. Social media channels are THE place where people discover, follow and relate to content creators. If you are not present on the channels where your audience is, it is more difficult to reach them.
Duke: A permission-based mailing list is clearly an important tool for anyone looking to build a following and promote a message or cause. What are the most important keys to using such a list?
Robinson: One of the most important keys to your permissions-based list is to grow the largest list possible. Thought leaders who speak and travel often miss the opportunity to establish an ongoing connection with the people they meet at events. I encourage speakers to make sure they have a call to action when on stage to offer valuable content to their audience in exchange for an email address. This ensures that they can stay in touch and be memorable beyond this experience.
The other key is to create a regular and sustainable schedule to keep in touch with your list, to keep the list current, and to continue adding value to your audience. This can be quarterly, monthly or weekly.
Duke: In today’s crowded world of communication, what seem to be the most effective ways to deliver content? Why?
Robinson: The most effective ways to deliver content depend on the intended audience. If your audience is between 15 and 30 years old, short video content (reels), shared on TikTok and Instagram, is probably the most effective. If your audience is older, other forms of content, such as articles on your blog or in professional publications, may be more effective.
There is no one-size-fits-all solution to creating content. The key is to create content and reuse it in different formats to share on different platforms to reach different segments of your audience.
Duke: What do you think are the most effective ways to reuse content items?
Robinson: I like to brainstorm themes and topics that might support my audience, then create what I call “content groups” to elucidate my ideas.
I can start with an abbreviated blog post on a topic, then expand it into a longer eBook, then break it up into smaller quotes and graphics to share on social media platforms. I then wonder if it would work well as a podcast episode and look for a guest with expertise on the subject.
I also wonder if it could be an interactive training. If it works, I also deliver the content in a webinar. This way, I used one topic or theme, but gave my audience a variety of ways to interact with the content.
Duke: Why is generosity in sharing important?
Robinson: Not everyone wants to be famous, but each of us has the opportunity to make a difference. If we have valuable ideas or content to share, why wouldn’t we choose to share with as many people as possible?
What I have seen is that it is not possible to give too much. The more value I share with others, the more opportunities I have to build relationships with them and see the impact of my work.
There is so much joy in finding the best you have with others. Choosing to create and generously share value with others is a choice that has the greatest impact on your life and work.