Gather what you Scatter

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Note: this is a bit of conceptual peice today, based on things we’ve been discussing on this blog for a while. If you don’t quite get it, read the posts that I’ve linked to and you’ll get the full picture.

I’ve written a bit over the last months about spreadability being the way that people are marketing today. Spreadability vs Reach is in fact something I speak a lot about at events (you can see the slides here.)

One of the things we said in particular was that spreadability is like scattering seeds, in so much as every bit of your message that you put out, no matter how big or small, has a only a certain degree of predictability to it as far as a return on your investment goes.

Scattering is a volume game, and we play the volume game because we don’t know who is of value out there. We don’t know which relationships will end up returning the greatest to us, which tweets return the deals, which bits of marketing make the biggest difference – and trying to carefully plant our seeds rather than scatter them neglects all the potential relationships that we could have, that we’d never normally pick.

You can watch a video of me sharing a great recent example of that from Like Minds Conversation Helsinki.

What we can’t do is live in the volume game. This creates burnout, and means we have width but no depth, and it is in a deep, valuable relationship that we really begin building.

The conundrum is this: how do we go from a volume approach to a value approach? How do we filter all that we scatter, and know what relationships or opportunities to begin investing in with greater value?

The way that we go from the volume game to the value game is to go from scattering to gathering.

What do I mean? I mean that if I scatter my message by sending out a tweet, then those who are valuable to me are the ones that respond – they participate. I then begin the process of gathering those people to me at the level at which they are participating.

The best way that I can explain this is this: if a farmer scatters his seed, and some of that seed begins to yield fruit, then he doesn’t just leave the fruit out there – he gathers it.

If you want to read excellent insights into this, I advise you read this post on the subject last week, and in particular, the comments from Robin Dickinson on how he only follows those who he had a value-based relationship with. It is inspiring stuff.

Your Leading Thoughts

I’ve got a lot formed in my mind about this, but I want to get your feedback on it to balance it out.

  • Do you agree with scattering and then gathering? Can you see truth to this?
  • How do you go from volume to value?

Archived Comments

  • http://www.sytaylor.net sytaylor

    The follow through is more important than the initial action. As I saw in a Zappos presentation, make people happy, even when you have no implicit reason to & they will value you 100x more for it.

  • http://platform.idiomag.com Andrew Davies

    I love the scatter then gather approach. I also haven’t missed the fact that it can be shortened to your initials (SG)… Only joking… (But seriously!).

    As well as all the benefits you have described, it perhaps also takes the pressure off being the one setting strategy. So, to find a point of further conversation and to take that point forward, do you really think that this works for all companies, or even all people?

    If we didn’t have people and companies willing to bet their futures on deterministic strategy and secretive research (eg Apple, James Dyson etc) there would be massive gaps in the reality we see today.

    I know I am making a leap from a simple framework to company strategy, but I think its important to note that long-term vision is vital for breakout success. Is my future based solely on “scatter-gather”, or is there also an element of strategic planning? To use your phrasing, if I only gathered those that responded to my scattering, wouldn’t I miss out on certain opportunities, conversations, deals, that come available when I go out of my way to meet someone who I can see will be influential for me, that I can learn from, or that I can generate business from?

  • http://twitter.com/Malcolm12boxes Malcolm Sleath

    I’ve been thinking about resonance and relevance in relation to the issue of spreadability.

    For me, relevance is a head trip. To take an example from my own work, I know that many professionals are under pressure to adjust their fees as clients try to drive down costs. (You almost stopped reading there didn’t you!) Resonance, on the other hand, has more to do with gut feel. So, when clients attempt to drive down costs: “I feel unappreciated!”.

    Question: Are relevance and resonance keys to spreadability? RATM had rebellious resonance, but it also addressed an issue that people saw as relevant – ‘Who is really in charge here?’

    Sense? Rambling?

  • http://twitter.com/Sam_Ford Sam Ford

    Completely agreed, Scott. There is no magic formula to know who you should deepen relationships with out of all those you touch from a professional networking capacity or from the perspective of outreach for a brand. To your point, developing relationships with those you gain resonance with makes sense, and those who have common interests/views/goals. That doesn’t mean you ignore any audiences but those…You still want to spread your message wide and be responsive to anyone who comes to you…But you want to spend the most time with the people who are responsive, who show interest on their side, who are passionate, etc. These are all things we know in terms of personal networking, but it seems that we often lose our heads when it comes to professional networking or outreach for a brand because “marketing-think” has beaten common communication sense out of us.

  • / Scott Gould

    Hey Drew

    Urm, of course you’d need a bigger strategy than this!

    What I’m proposing is a simple model that those doing business through the social web can follow. In actual fact, as we discussed the other day, these lays on top of other models that I have which makes them link together. As far as I’m concerned, i’ve got a create model that most businesses could follow when it comes to SOCIAL.

  • / Scott Gould

    Malcolm, good words.

    I was talking with some people on Twitter the other day, trying to sum up what ‘Social’ is, as far as its key values.

    We came up with three: Participation, Resonance and Authenticity.

    Resonance is a huge thing. I don’t spread what doesn’t resonant with me.

  • / Scott Gould

    Loved your post this morning – really enjoying that presentation

    :-)

  • / Scott Gould

    Hey Sam

    Glad you agree. I’m reading some of your stuff at the moment, so expect your name to bantered around here more over the next months!

    Scott

  • http://twitter.com/howardcshen Howard Shen

    Good blog post!
    I love it, it is very informative.

    Thank you,
    Howard

  • / Scott Gould

    Glad the post was useful Howard!

    How do you currently ‘scatter’ and ‘gather’?

  • http://twitter.com/Sam_Ford Sam Ford

    And don’t be surprised to see some of your thoughts in the book draft as we complete it, either…Some of your recent thinking re: spreadability is quite germane to some of our main points but explore thoughts/areas/angles we weren’t looking at. BTW, NYU Press has officially accepted the book for publication, so we are aiming to finish the manuscript draft by the end of the summer and then spend the fall editing/revising. If you’re game, I might send you some chapters to get your thoughts.

  • / Scott Gould

    Sign me up!!!

13th July, 2010

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