Social Media

How content can revive organic reach

By Patrick Gardner | co-founder

July 16, 2015 | 5 min read

Right now your agency is probably telling you that organic reach is over. The only way to reach people via Facebook and Twitter is to pay.

Patrick Gardner

To be fair they may have a point. Brands that simply post rubbish in are deservedly being squeezed for cash.

But it isn’t all doom and gloom because great relevant, interesting content still cuts through. Data from Wisemetrics shows that the top 1 per cent of Facebook pages still reach 82 per cent of their fans. That’s because what they have to say is interesting.

That’s a long way from the apocalypse of 6 per cent (and even lower for pages with small fanbases) cited by Ogilvy.

So how do the very best do it? In essence by creating great content, often in a small way but continuously around ideas and platforms that are interesting to the target consumer. They don’t simply pump their TV commercial or print ads into the social environment.

The bottom line is that effective content is interesting, small, fast and frequent. Critically, it doesn’t have to be expensive. Brands have to behave more like newsdesks.

At a time when the boundary between paid media, earned media, pure PR, native advertising and plain content is hard to distinguish, the opportunities for great, targeted content are immense.

For Converse we helped create a team that collaborated with festivals and graffiti artists to generate a sense of trial and error around the brand and celebrate the musical stars who wore its shoes. The approach was encapsulated by a digital screen built out of sneakers that flipped and turned in response to music.

When we developed this campaign, we designed it as a content engine that would produce lots of small items for four to five months.

The approach helped Converse add more than 800 000 Facebook fans, driving sales up 50% per cent in every store we took our wall of shoes to.

Converse later also formed a partnership with London’s iconic 100 Club on Oxford Street, allowing it to heighten awareness of its musical heritage and put on a succession of content-generating events.

The process should include the opportunity to listen to the audience as well, using what you learn to make new great content.

The best campaigns integrate ways that encourage interaction and reward consumers for doing so.

It all comes down to a simple rule: be worthy of your audience’s attention.

However, what you make is only half the battle. Where you use it is every bit as important. Brand-owned (or controlled) channels are obviously an important part of the mix, but the element many brands forget is third-party sites, particularly e-commerce sites.

Consumer brands need to treat retailers as media channels, negotiate access as part of their deals and also promote their quality content as an advantage for the retailer in order to secure better terms.

One brand that does this incredibly well is Lego, which has films for many of its kits on Amazon.

Similarly, young cosmetics brand SmashBox took on the major players with a smart content series called Shape Matters, and developing content for third party sites such as Sephora, helping to smash targets by 200 per cent.

My personal estimate is that just 2 per cent of brands are currently getting this right. There are loads of great examples they can learn from, Newcastle Brown Ale and Oreo in the US are both good examples, but it seems that many are reluctant to change from a campaign based approach.

All that means is that brands that are willing to transform their message will achieve even more. The reach is out there, but only if you adapt and adopt the new techniques.

Patrick Gardner is the co-founder and outgoing CEO of Perfect Fools

Social Media

More from Social Media

View all


Industry insights

View all
Add your own content +