What I realised, though, is that in this presentation I didn’t go through some of the failures and the trial and error not only of what we’ve faced with Like Minds, but also with spreadability as a concept across other examples.
It’s common knowledge that whether we are talking reach or spreadability, customer service or marketing, company or charity, there is always an element of hit and miss, or of wastage. Even when using targeted platforms like AdWords or Facebook Ads, which are very specific towards who you are marketing too, there will aways be a percentage of spill.
For Reach, this type of spill is a problem. It means that those who I am not targeting are getting my message at the expense of those I am targeting, which is especially a problem when we consider that reach through a broadcast channel is paid for according to how many you are purportedly reaching. This is akin to rice farmers, who have to very carefully plan where each each seed is planted, and carefully nurture it.
For Spreadability, this spill is actually the secret of it’s success. Spreadability is like scattering seed. For the British farmers around Exeter, they don’t plant each seed as much as they scatter it. By preparing the soil, there is more chance that each seed will take and bear fruit, but some seed just won’t. What this brings up for me are:
5 Fundamentals About Spreadability
1. There will be failure. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve tweeted something with the #likeminds hashtag, expecting it to get taken up, only for it to fail. I’ve wrote blog posts I thought would capture the hearts of readers that get no comments. I have gone from having a massive event to running the followup which has been poorly attended. You have to factor in and expect a percentage of failure.
2. You need to prepare the soil. You have greater chance with your seed with good soil. You soil is your community, your network, your brand, your reputation, your customers, etc – and the more connected you are with them, the greater chance your spreadability seeds have. (But of course, still expect some to fail.)
3. There are always unknown variables. Like inclement weather and unforeseen circumstances, there are always variables that you don’t know. This isn’t necessarily bad – because an unknown variable can be what rockets you to success. If anyone has read Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point (affiliate link), you’ll understand that this is the law of context – which is made up of so many variables that can you never be 100% sure.
4. You don’t know what will succeed. The above three points should help us understand that we actually don’t know what will succeed, for sure. Now I know that, yes, we can be certain about somethings, but let me illustrate with the #likeminds hashtag example again. When I put something out on that hashtag, I never know if it’ll take. Sometimes the things I think are best, get no mentions, and sometimes the worst things do. Even worse is when other people seem to always have their stuff on the hashtag retweeted when mine arent’! Knowing this, I then follow this final fundamental:
5. You have to keep scattering. Spreadability is accumulative. As you build upon your network, your failures at the least add to the soil – teaching you lessons and at least keeping your network nurtured.
How Spreadability isn’t like Seeds
The big difference is that when I talk about Spreadability vs Reach and Social vs Broadcast, it is multi-way communication versus one-way communication – something that is made far clearer in the Social / Broadcast Matrix.
I guess you could find an extended metaphor to make this fit… but… I am…
In the spirit of spreadability, it’s likely that this won’t even spread as I’ve mentioned above! But that’s fine – I’ll keep on going
If however, perchance that you do read this, then let me ask you, do you agree? Really – do you agree? Are we finding things are working like I’ve mentioned above, or am I stretching a metaphor? What’s your experience with Spreadability?