Reach vs Teach
5 min read

Reach vs Teach

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Yo! Welcome to the next episode of The Content Strategy Reeder where 5,937 creators get better at content strategy and creation in 5 minutes or less. We have over 300 new Reeders joining us this week — let's goooo.

As content creators and marketers, we have a dilemma:

We want to both grow our audience and reach, but we also want to deliver immense value.

That's a natural conflict because rapid audience growth requires picking broad topics that appeal to many, and delivering value requires sharing niche knowledge that appeals to a smaller group.

And because impressions and follower count is widely considered “success,” creators tend to lean heavier on broad topics to juice up their stats instead focusing on how many people they're actually helping and the business outcomes their content produces.

But the biggest mistake you can make is chasing virality because it won’t position you as an expert.

While you might become popular, you won’t become credible. And credibility is what drives your content engagement and fuels your reputation & business.

So how do you grow your audience and build credibility with your content?

Use the Reach vs Teach method

The beautiful part is, you don’t have to pick one or the other. You can structure your content topics so you get the best of both worlds. The key is striking a healthy balance that helps you reach your goals.

To set the table, generally speaking:

Broad topics: wide audience appeal, higher entertainment value & lower educational value

Niche topics: narrow audience appeal, higher educational value & lower entertainment value

You want to use Reach topics to pull people into your awareness "sphere," then use Teach topics to provide niche value that builds credibility with your audience.

Here's the difference:

Reach topics are all about relatability

Broad topics → grab attention → grow your audience.

These typically fall under three buckets: trends, broad evergreen topics, and perspectives & stories. These are topics specifically designed for high engagement.

Examples of current trends:

  • WFH vs in-office culture
  • Quiet quitting
  • Tech layoffs

Examples of broad evergreen topics:

  • Life as a working parent
  • Work-life balance
  • Productivity tips

Examples of perspectives & stories:

  • Personal milestones
  • Mistakes and what you learned
  • Jokes & social commentary

All of these have the potential to get a ton of clicks, likes, comments, shares, followers, subscribers, etc. Key for growing your audience.

But beware of exclusively relying on these topics to build your content strategy

There are some downsides to overusing these topics:

1) You risk being known for the wrong thing. There’s nothing wrong with discussing broad topics in moderation. But if you constantly talk about being a working parent or making satirical jokes, and you run a talent agency for a living — your reputation won't build you credibility with folks who can actually buy from you. And credibility is what builds trust and motivates people to reach out and work with you.

2) You’re left with nothing when the trend ends. The other problem with exclusively riding trends is that when the wave crashes and the trend fizzles out— you’re left with nothing. Then you need to wait for a new trend and try to build all over again.

Imagine if your content strategy was all about the 2020 election. Good luck selling that idea today.

Teach topics are about educating your audience

Narrow topics → educate your audience → position yourself as an expert.

Your expertise is what builds credibility and trust.

This could be sharing how to solve an existing or new problem, or a new take on an existing solution.

I educate my audience by sharing my Niche Knowledge in three main ways:

  • content strategy frameworks
  • content creation tips
  • sales tactics

I understand that a smaller group will be interested in these topics, but it will provide immense value for the folks that do care (you, I hope!).

I also consistently share advice on these topics because I want to unlock growth for my business and personal life. Consistently talking about WFH isn’t going to help me land new opportunities (that I want) nor make more money.

How I use this method to pick topics

For LinkedIn, I typically split Reach/Teach 40/60. This keeps my content creation fun and my brand relatable while growing my position as a leader in B2B content strategy (one of my strategic goals). Same applies when building LinkedIn for B2B companies.

For campaigns and channel growth as a B2B marketing leader — webinars, blogs, podcasts — I lean 50/50. That’s because I specialize in audience, category, and brand building, which requires (in my humble opinion) more broad topics that are aligned to the company’s mission and values vs tons of product education content.

Here’s how I think about it when mapping out a content calendar and choosing what to produce:

In my experience, you’ll be more effective in building trust at scale if you prioritize solving your audience’s problems instead of educating them on your product.

Note: Accepting that bottom of funnel content is allowed to be "less entertaining" doesn't sit well with me. Seems ripe for a shake up. But that's a story for another time.

Examples to inspire your next big idea

High reach, lower teach content

High teach, lower reach content

Let's wrap

If you use the Reach vs Teach method when creating your content strategy, you’ll grow your audience AND position yourself/your company as an expert.

Perfect if you want to reach strategic goals like increase revenue.

Whenever I feel compelled to play the popularity game on social, I think of  J. Cole's lyric, "Some [people] make millions, other [people] make memes."

No hate for a meme here and there, but it isn't going to make your career.

Holler at you next week,

If this episode of CSR inspired you or made you think, you can help me spread the word by sharing this link with your friends or on social media.

Want more digital resources for creating prolific content?

  1. Catch up on previous newsletters here (scroll down to ‘Here’s what you missed’)
  2. Follow me on Linkedin for edu-taining content on sales and marketing tactics (and the occasional spicy takeout)
  3. Check out my video course Content Strategy for LinkedIn if you want to build a credible and authentic LinkedIn presence. Use discount code “CSR” for 22% off.