In the two previous posts we’ve discussed topic and target groups, and how to view these two in the light of your need to reach people with your project in one way or another, engage with them and – preferably – arrive at some form of interaction and perhaps even a sense of loyalty towards your story and content.
In this chapter we’ll take a look at one thing that I’ve found to be a bit daunting for many producers and creators. Not all, of course, as there are many who are experimenting with how to reach people and many who’ve succeeded quite admirably in doing so. Still, many of those have also gotten accustomed to one way of doing things and might benefit from exploring other possibilities as well.
It’s time to have a look at how we decide which platforms to use to reach the people we want to reach.
There are obviously quite a few platforms to choose from, both more traditional and newer, socially geared or more one-way, each with its own benefits and drawbacks. I will not strive to explain all of these and the intricacies of posting and following up and analyzing and engaging on each of these – Reddit is another universe than TikTok, Instagram another universe than YouTube etc and there are numerous resources to take part of to find out more about these from a creator’s POV – but some questions that I’d advise any person with a project to answer in order to find some more clarity regarding choices would be:
- What platform(s) make sense in light of your topic and your target group? If you’ve done your research regarding your target group(s) and their habits and interests you should have a notion of what platforms you’d be most likely to reach them on. If it’s teens or 20-somethings you want to reach, Facebook is most likely not the right answer (and perhaps not for many other groups either in the future). Put this to the test and seed some content on platforms you believe should be the right ones for you and evaluate the outcome. This again, leads to question two:
- What do the project’s resources allow for? It’s all well and good to draw up plans for releasing content and engaging with people on different platforms, but each and every venture is costly, both in time and funds. As long-term planning is a necessity for anyone wanting to build a community or at least an interested group of followers it is crucial to – from the very beginning – weed out unnecessary platforms and engagements. See how far you can stretch yourself and go no further. On the contrary, leave some resources untapped, in the event that your activities are successful – if so, you’ll be scrambling to keep up with the interest from your audience.
- What is your desired impact? You should have a fair notion of what you actually want to achieve with your project, be it to raise awareness about a topic or to affect more direct change, or perhaps simply to entertain (no small feat that, either!). Knowing what the desired impact is can also help you decide on platforms to utilise, as some platforms are more geared towards dialogue and debate (if that’s what you’re after) while other platforms are better at offering content that is more easily digested and shared onwards, if that serves your purpose better. Of course there is also the possibility to combine these, by letting short-form content be shared widely, but acting as the entry way for audiences to engage on other platforms in discussion and debate.
- Finally, look at the limitations of each platform and analyse whether these are for the good or for the bad in the context of your project. A successful Reddit-thread in an appropriate subreddit can be enormously advantageous for your project, but if you do not want to invite debate at an early stage, that platform should be saved for later. A short-form Instagram post is easily shared, but if you’d rather see more deep engagement from the start it might be best to save some of your greatest content for other platforms, etc.
Finally, four pieces of advice –
First, be prepared to change tack and direction quickly, if things are not going the way you’d want them to. You might have made the wrong decision regarding a platform or how to approach a certain platform, so don’t throw unnecessary resources at something that doesn’t work.
Second, be prepared for success – if you do manage to get the masses onboard, have a plan in place for how to deal with an enormous influx of engagement, so the narrative doesn’t run away from you.
Third, be prepared for the narrative reversal – you will have people not agreeing with you, being suspicious of you, even trolling you. Be prepared and have a plan in action for how to respectfully approach such engagement, and strive to turn doubters into believers.
Fourth, don’t be afraid to ask for help. You don’t know everything, and you shouldn’t have to – so find people who have the knowledge you might be missing and see how you can work with them to arrive at the goals you’ve set for yourself.
In our next chapter we’ll talk Intensity and Polarisation!