This is an Eval Central archive copy, find the original at freshspectrum.com.
Today’s post outlines a modern reporting strategy that I call the splash model.
In today’s post:
- A recap, why it’s time for a strategy change.
- Avoiding the Social Media time suck.
- Your big three audiences.
- Big splash content.
- Byproducts and adaptations.
- Serve the 1st tier first.
- Then serve the 2nd tier.
- 3rd tier by extension.
- When you know your whole audience.
- When you want to grow your audience.
- For more information.
A recap, why it’s time for a strategy change.
So I wrote a whole post on why I think we need a change in the way we report. You can read the whole thing here, Stop Reporting Like it’s 1999.
But here is the TL/DR version.
A lot has changed on the web over the last 20+ years. But many organizations are still reporting the same way they did two decades ago, by simply uploading a PDF to a big resource library. It’s time for a change.
Avoiding the Social Media time suck.
I think a lot of organizations feel like they need to show up big on social media. Or at least, that’s where they think they should go first.
Yes, it’s pretty easy to create a tweet, a Facebook post, an Instagram post, or even a TikTok video.
But for most of us, Social Media is a trap.
On the surface it’s just a little bit of work. But to do social well, you have to put in that work, over and over and over again. Day in, day out. And ultimately, it becomes a lot of work. And for what?
There is an alternative though, and that’s to go big instead of going small. To do something big on occasion instead of doing something small constantly.
Your big three audiences.
We have three main audiences.
The first tier is our primary audience. Ideally it’s the people you know already (you may even have their email addresses). This is not a casual audience but people who hopefully care deeply about what you plan to share.
The second tier are people who know you. They are the people who follow your work (and likely follow your organization’s social media accounts). They are a casual audience, when the stuff you share is relevant they may click, look, read, and engage.
The third tier are the people who know the people in tier 1 and tier 2. They might not know your work directly, but they will see it when it’s shared by those in the first two tiers. These are the people outside of your direct followers who are “reached” when you share your work and those who find your stuff using Google.
Big splash content.
Big splash content (aka anchor content) is the kind of stuff people will give you their email address to get. This could be webinars that you register to attend, ebooks that you register to download, or communities that you register to join. And yes, this could even be a big PDF report.
This is content with a high perceived value. It’s not a throw-away social media post that has a half-life of just a few hours. It’s not a generic blog post that may or may not be designed specifically for the audience you are trying to reach.
For example, what if every time you released a report you had a release party webinar? In that webinar you feature the voices of the program sites, stakeholders, partners, and evaluators. The report is still the thing that you are sharing, but now it’s more than just a button click and skim.
A report can be big splash content. Take this “Flagship Report” created by UNICEF or the Gates Foundation Goalkeepers report. But you have to treat it like it’s something special. If you treat it like a blog post, sharing it along with a simple tweet, a Facebook share, and a single mention in an email newsletter, it’s not going to have that much of an impact. You can’t just share the link, you have to adapt and expand into other forms of content (like infographics or videos) in order to boost the impact and make a bigger splash.
For instance, the UNICEF flagship report was paired with an interactive data dashboard, video, resources for parents, resources for youth, a social media hashtag campaign, assorted infographics you might only find within their social media feed, and other stuff you’re likely only to see if you are part of a specific UNICEF audience.
Byproducts and adaptations.
The cool thing about big splash content is that it naturally leads to other content. A webinar for example might also lead to the creation of the following byproduct content.
- Announcement Email
- Calendar Entries
- Registration Page/Image
- Announcement Blog Post
- Announcement Social Posts
- Follow-up Emails
- Follow-up Posts
- Speaker recruitment
- Slides/Webinar Recording
- Mentioned Links & Resources
Adaptations are similar to byproducts, but more intentionally created to help reach 2nd and 3rd tier audiences. Where byproducts are just a result of doing something big, adaptations are focused on reaching specific audiences.
- Slide Inspired Infographics
- Blog Post Speaker Introductions
- Q&A Inspired by Webinar (Blog post or social)
- New Resources Inspired by Webinar (Blog Post)
- Clipped Video Content
- Social Media Questions
- Event screenshots
- Quote posts with hashtags
Serve the 1st tier first.
Your report audience is never a monolith. It’s not just an amalgamation of all the different stakeholder groups you can brainstorm on a whiteboard. Different audiences have different needs and desires.
Your job should be to serve the first tier audience first. This requires you to know who is in that first tier. If you have not had that discussion within your organization, you have it before you share your report.
Anything big you do should be of greatest value to those target audience members. If you don’t actually know these people, the big splash content should draw them in. If you do know these people, the big splash content should just be something they will greatly value.
Then serve the 2nd tier.
Your second tier is served intentionally by adapting your content to meet the needs of these different stakeholder groups. They are not your primary audience, but you can still serve their needs. Infographics, slidedocs, videos, and other assorted content should be adapted from your report or associated content. The goal is not to rewrite the report, but adapt it into a shorter format with a new audience in mind.
3rd tier by extension.
The third tier of your audience will be reached by extension. The better your big splash anchor content and adaptations, the wider the audience reach. By directly partnering with 1st and 2nd tier audience members in the creation of your content (panel discussion webinars, collaborative blog series, and collaborative social media) you will expand your reach into the 3rd tier. Reaching the 3rd tier requires temporarily borrowing audiences built by others.
When you know your whole audience.
When you known everyone in your 1st tier audience (and serving 2nd and 3rd tier audiences is not within your project scope) then a strategy like this is irrelevant. Just create things to serve that audience, and send them emails or call them on the phone. You likely don’t need social media or even bunches of report adaptations.
When you want to grow your audience.
Let’s say you know a few of your target tier 1 audience members, but there are more out there in the world that are currently unknown. Perhaps they follow you on social, but you don’t yet know them. Your goal for your big splash content will be to build your known audience (by asking for emails!). You’ll also want to build your second tier (by asking for social follows).
But when you design your content still focus on serving the people you know first. To broaden your reach, you start by solidifying your core known audience. The smaller your known audience, the more you will need to partner with 1st and 2nd tier audiences to expand your reach.
For more information.
One day I’ll write this all down, with more supporting evidence and examples, in a book. But given how busy I keep myself, I don’t think that will happen anytime soon. This is the way I conceptualize modern reporting, and it seems to work well when I initiate the strategy. But it is still certainly a work in progress.
Until it’s more fleshed out, I talk about it a bit in my workshop. But whether or not you follow the model doesn’t really matter. Because ultimately reporting this way is just about the following.
- Known who you are serving.
- Serve your main audience first with significant content.
- The more reach you want your report to have, the more report adaptations you need (infographics, etc.).
But if you have any thoughts, I would love to hear them.