Collaboration is the New Organic Reach

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This past week, I digitally attended (aka streamed) The Digital Innovation Summit. The event brought together experts from business and the media who each spoke to how they’re driving innovation, both from a technology and social perspective.

The streaming, in and of itself, was kinda interesting and something I personally had never done. We took that approach for several reasons: it allowed other Hodgers to pop in and participate, was very cost effective and it placed minimal burden on my family (which includes 2 kids under 3). During the talk, there was a lot of conversation and questions surrounding measuring the impact of social media, and I’ll get into that in a future post. What I’d like to focus on now is the talk given by Jennifer Burnham, Dir. Social Marketing at Salesforce. Hodges had come into contact with Salesforce during its acquisition of Buddy Media, which was a social dashboard that would allow clients to manage its social presence (outbound and inbound content) from one destination.

Salesforce is taking an approach to organic reach that not only validates Hodges approach, but also some of our clients’ philosophies. As we all know, the juggernauts of social media — namely Facebook and Twitter — have been commoditized. And with the weight of stockholders on their shoulders, these titans of community have killed organic reach and virality. As a result, brands can no longer expect that their content will be seen be all fans. And more importantly, for businesses who are trying to build a community, it’s very unlikely that content will be seen by new eyes, unless there are advertising dollars behind your effort.

During her talk, Jennifer talked about how Salesforce is reaching new audiences through collaboration, and the principals were applicable to any business that is willing to devote time to blogging (I know…it’s not for everyone). At Hodges, we practice what we preach by sharing the responsibility of writing a blog among an employee base, which broadens the expertise of the blog (making the content better) and takes the burden off just one or two people. At Salesforce, Jennifer has extended her editorial team beyond Salesforces’ large employee base to include customers, industry influencers and even sales prospects for the company.

Here’s why that’s a winning equation. Salesforce has established large followings on the major platforms. Customers, industry influencers and prospects all represent a unique perspective, which they’d like to share with Salesforce’s likeminded community. Salesforce wants relevant content that doesn’t cut into their bottom line … and free content from friends does just that.

Obviously guest blogging is not a new concept, but building a blog with the intent to regularly source original content from outside sources reminds me of the traditional media landscape, before “The Facebook.” Plus, it solves two barriers businesses typically face when starting a blog — the concern over having enough content and the challenge of organically reaching new audiences — through collaboration. This is certainly not a cure-all for businesses who have no desire to create any content, but Salesforce’s approach reshaped my thinking on good content and where that could come from. 

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