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Network, reach and audience are NOT the same

With the continued rise of LinkedIn and other social platforms there is an increasing focus on audience, reach and network but quite often these terms are misused and muddled.

To explain the difference an analogy is called for – A room full of people for a business event where perhaps you are talking on a stage or to them directly…

Audience – The people in the room are the audience, they are there and might hear what you say. These people might be in the same room as you but then so are the people you walk past in the street, shopping mall or car park.

Reach – These are the people that will actively listen to you when you are stood at the front of the room sharing your message, whereas the audience are continuing their conversations paying no attention to you at all.

Network – These are the people that you really know. To keep on theme of the analogy above, these are the people that cheer the loudest or come up to you afterwards to check you are ok or to congratulate you – these people care about you.

When you are connecting with people on LinkedIn you might be thinking you are building an audience, increasing your reach, or enhancing your network but without a relationship it is just the underlying data – an audience.

If you are thinking about LinkedIn as a way to engage your audience I would simply tell you the average user on LinkedIn is just spending 10 minutes and 16 seconds a day on LinkedIn so your chances of engaging an audience is small, even more so when you stop and think that you mostly interact with people you already know within LinkedIn and not random strangers in the “audience”.

When you interact with people you already know that spreads what you are saying to their connections, hence spreading your message with a little added credibility.

Now if you have a network versus an audience (or collection of connections) then you can ask your network for a referral to their network – nothing you wouldn’t do in real life but again if you have reach or audience you cannot.

So, think carefully about your audience, reach or network within LinkedIn when you are thinking about your connections, how well you know them and enabling your success within LinkedIn.

21 November 2019