Month of Learning

Please enter email and password to continue

Relying On The Shortest Routes For The Quickest Return

Copy of Why You Can't Be Everything To Everyone (3)

Why lean on a place that isn’t yours to grow an audience, when the place you recline upon is starting to make you unsteady?

What makes businesses reticent to make that step to do something different (in terms of an owned media approach)?

Lets point the finger at behaviour driven by the pursuit of the shortest routes possible for the quickest return.


What Facebook Did Last Week

Last week’s Facebook algorithm change (Wednesday 29th June) highlights the risk businesses take when we become over reliant on a space that isn’t your own.

Screen Shot 2016-07-06 at 10.16.59

In case you didn’t see, Facebook have turned up the volume for you to see posts from friends, photos of other peoples children and seeing the perfect lives of others lived out in front of you, over content from third party publishers.

Basically, if a media strategy is to regularly pay Facebook to continually promote your business or product, the chances are someone else’s personal life is higher up the ladder than what you want to broadcast.

Facebook is controlling what you see. Whether that is to encourage companies to move over to Instant Articles (that was introduced in April this year) rather than paying to be seen in your newsfeed, the whole emphasis is to retain everybody within the walled garden that is Facebook.

The creepy thing is, they are becoming the guardian of journalistic content. Imagine Ramsay Bolton asking you to come round to his place after work for lasagne and then locking the door.

Facebook claim in their headline they are building a ‘better newsfeed for you.’ However that improved newsfeed is decided by someone’s priority being Facebook’s bottom line, not yours. So far this year, Facebook nearly tripled their quarterly profit from $3.3 billion to $5.2 billion. They are playing it well.


Taking Control Back

Further proof that taking an approach to build an audience that you have 100% control of is becoming a route that is making more sense.

Whilst more media outlets are taking control themselves, why aren’t you?

What is stopping people and businesses are the paths that they have always kept on. Changing attitude and behaviour is key to a mindset shift. It’s easier to keep to the habits we have always kept.

In all walks of life it is difficult to sustain change. According to UK Nicotine & Tobacco Research, 37% of smokers who quit smoking would relapse within 10 years (a significantly higher proportion relapsed after one year of abstinence). We all have the ability to fall back into previous habits; it is part of human DNA.


The Way The Media Landscape Has Worked

Businesses have always relied on an approach centred on finding ways to broadcast and distribute a message in the shortest possible time with minimal effort to a targeted audience.

The traditional role for ad/design/brand agencies has been to negotiate/agree a fee with media outlets to distribute someone else’s content ie. the clients, to an audience that is borrowed from someone else. A message is distributed to as many people as possible. This is to a targeted audience in the hope that they will acknowledge and buy. Many times this audience are strangers. This is a model that has been with us for generations. This is why advertising exists.


The Role Businesses Play In Their Marketplace

What is becoming ever more apparent is for businesses to understand the role that they play within a marketplace, have the courage to stand for something more compelling than the competition and deliver an imaginative message to inform on a consistent basis in order for people to subscribe, get closer and to buy.

With the ability to control and grow, the biggest step for businesses is to change behaviour.

These are the excuses that I have seen and become the barriers to progress. These are not plucked from thin air, these are genuine reasons that I have noted down and heard from others.


  • we don’t want to open up and provide information as our competitors will find out and copy
  • we haven’t got the time to produce content
  • our focus is to sell products not take a role to be useful to others
  • how long until we are number one on Google?
  • we don’t have the resources to be committed to this
  • we’re not a very interesting company and don’t have a lot to say
  • we tried blogging for a couple of months and then lost interest
  • it’s not worth it
  • we have a bloke who does our SEO, we use him


What I am trying to highlight here is the reluctance to change from a human level, not a technological shift.

A 2008 study from IBM highlighted that over 60% of change efforts never meet the objectives set out. This was based on 1,500 respondents from 15 countries. When change doesn’t work, people become cynical.

Change within individuals does not take priority, more the efforts of an outside-in approach suggesting that change will happen.

It is the human factor that limits the success of any change.

When looking to build a discussion with any potential new customer, I can make a judgement within five minutes whether change and a new approach is going to be bought in from board level.

The reticence to look at things differently and always refer back to a broadcast led approach, with its foundations on what a product does rather than the acceptance to serve an audience is now becoming easier to spot.

I first became vocal about board level buy in a couple of years ago with an article that was centred on a conversation with a company who asked whether investing in Twitter would see a return of £250,000. You can read it here. Basically the company was thinking about using new spaces they hadn’t considered, but apply a 20th century approach of self promotion and use as an advertising channel, whilst starting from zero.

However, there are examples of behavioural change representing longevity. The paint and wallpaper company, Farrow & Ball are a popular case study of mine. In 2014 they introduced a separate site from the business that was centred on championing colour, not a section on the site called ‘Farrow & Ball blog’. The Chromologist has been in existence for two years now and an approach that was embraced from board level and autonomy given to a chap called Rob Murray, who provided the initial idea. People from within the business were engaged in the change process and not driven by an outside source.

What I am trying to highlight here is the ability to be committed and build a new rhythm that is centred on ownership and building an audience that is centred on relevant and compelling content. The reason efforts fail is because of a short termist approach, centred on a reluctance to progress.


Behaviour Change

In order to make change, you’ve got to want it, otherwise you revert back to the status quo.

You cannot rely on spaces you have no control of that suddenly make a decision to do things differently. What Facebook want to do with the algorithm change is completely up to them. It’s not wrong, it’s their ball and they can do what they want with it.

Whilst we are all here to build an audience who will buy and come back for more, the answer does not lie at the table of someone else.

Paying to be at someone else’s place is only going to get more expensive. Businesses have to start accepting responsibility by owning the assets that are theirs and not handing over control to someone else.


Lets Round Up

Everything starts with accepting that there has to be a behavioural shift from within the company. You cannot look at the world as it has always has been.

To change the approach for your businesses to not be wholly reliant on others, you have to change the perception that the shortest routes to success are via already established means.

It does take time but when the foundations of trust, interaction and relationships are built, they become hard to break.


Copy of fringes (1)

This whole route to behavioural change and embracing an owned media approach, starts with accepting that things are different than what they were.

Come and join me for the Referendum Content Marketing Milkshake on 27th July. A half day workshop centred on understanding the role you play within your marketplace and what you actually stand for. Read more and to register your interest here.

Get the
Thursday newsletter

The YATM Weekly helps you build a loyal audience so you become the leading voice in your marketplace. All yours every Thursday.

Find out more

    ‘You Are The Media is powered by We Are The Media. We turn your expertise into clear, compelling messages, then build those messages into the kind of content people value —and come back for.

    Visit We Are The Media