“Stop buying reach and start earning it”. Hmm. No.

Those of you who know me also know I have a special place in my heart for the interpretation of data. Had a little read of this in the morning: http://bbh-labs.com/stop-buying-reach-and-start-earning-it/ ← it doesn’t just make the argument that we should do more to earn reach — which is fine, we all love a bit of PR — but argues that we should stop buying reach on social, because it’s more effective to earn it. Evidenced by:

Earned reach is not as dead as Facebook would have you believe, in fact our last two videos for KFC (here & here) organically reached 60 million people and created headlines across the world . A single organic tweet from Tesco this week about the tampon tax performed better (in terms of resonance and press coverage) than any paid tweet we have ever published.

I’m not sure this is an appropriate interpretation of the data.

I really enjoyed both of those videos for KFC. I saw them many times. Usually inserted into my various social feeds. Because they were supported with paid media. One of the impacts of paid media support is that the platforms, either because of the relevance of the content or, as I suspect, to encourage further paid support, is a boost to organic reach.

So when you’re paying to have your content seen you get an organic boost. Great creative work certainly helps. Absent paid support would it have been watched as widely or as often? I suspect not. And those behind the ad (and let’s call it what it is: an ad) clearly suspected the same.

I could be wrong and it’s possible I imagined these videos popping up in my feeds as paid ads. In which case I look forward to the IPA Effectiveness entry.

Regarding the Tweet — yes it’s possible to say something in the right place, at the right time and if you have enough of an existing audience maybe it’ll take off. A friend of mine Tweeted about the finale of GOT the other day and got 5,000 Retweets. Super. He wasn’t making a fairly bold announcement about a hot topic issue using an official account of one of the biggest supermarkets in the UK.

That is the ‘success’ of the Tweet likely wasn’t because of the creative — I suspect the video with the Tweet could have been replaced with a black and white text image saying something like ‘No to the Tampon Tax’ and it would have resonated. The Tweet wasn’t picked up as news, the story was. Because it was newsworthy (and I suspect supported with press releases etc). The Tweet isn’t cited at all in the linked story in the blog post. In fact it looks like where it is mentioned, it’s part of a press release, cf this story on the Metro.

So for each of the examples cited we have a combination of good creative (or newsworthiness) and support. In the case of KFC, straightforward bought media; in the case of Tesco, traditional PR.

Perhaps the real lesson isn’t ‘stop buying paid reach’ but more ‘continue supporting great work with paid reach’ which is especially true when your brand can’t afford to hire one of the stars of Game of Thrones, featuring in an ad airing while the much-anticipated series is on with the support, no doubt, of very strong PR work.

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