Andy Capaloff
June 8, 2014

The Burning Question: How Can Our Audience Find Us?

The adage that perception is 9/10th of reality is becoming ever more true in the online world.  With Facebook giving their reasons for the decline in organic reach and saying that the fraction of the potential news feed that they show us, is what is relevant to us, the question must be asked as to how much their perceptions are shaping our experiences.  

Is the Internet changing our opinions and therefore the world, by deciding what is relevant to us?   Niched News services have long done this, but we have the opportunity to move beyond that in the digital world and due to the valiant efforts of search engines to organise the ever increasing mountain of content, we are currently failing

Ongoing Feedback Loops

It is becoming more difficult to even see out of or into the Filter Bubble, as it becomes ever more fractal.

Fractal Definition

We are already at the point that what we do online shapes what we are most likely to see online.  But this works two ways, and for those looking to reach a broader audience, the other direction is considerably more significant.

digital_footprint-ukn5g3If people have not been aware of you until now, and their online footprint extends nowhere near your niche, what you do will simply not be considered as relevant to them and you will remain on the other side of an opaque, reflective, and therefore invisible bubble!

Is this really the necessary price of avoiding content overload? I feel sure that as mind-blowing as the concepts behind semantic search are, the blinkered image of the world that it presents to people based upon its idea of relevancy to you, ensures that it too, is just a stepping-stone on the way to true search intelligence.

You can opt out of Google’s bubble but apparently, Facebook’s is in the process of becoming ever more constraining.

So what can we do about it?

Question And Answers

Well this is where things get a little tricky! Search the Internet and you will come across any number of brilliant articles on how you can find your target audience. But this touches on another of my pet subjects.

In Why You Need to Question the Answers, I examine how some answers are understood to be fact, and all future work uses the authoritative works as their foundational truths.

But you know what? There is a step before this.

Is Our Overriding Question Wrong?

What if the problem wasn’t with the authoritative answer, but was with the initial question?

I was not the first and am far from alone in talking about the importance of the right questions when it comes to Big Data, but that skill needs to be applied beyond that one area.

I firmly believe that the question we’re all asking regarding broadening our audience, is flawed!

We are asking how we can find our target audience, but who does the searching? The audience does! See the world through John Brown's eyesTherefore, it is they who need to find us, and the correct questions are:

  • How might my target audience find me?    and
  • What do I have to do to help my target audience to find me?

Unfortunately, if you perform searches with the above questions, Google will presume you have asked the wrong question and reverse it back to the one currently being asked. Variations on these are likely to produce responses that are either geared towards pay-per-click or are very high-level articles about Semantic Search, including Google’s Hummingbird.

I did find this article, 10 Tips for Hacking Semantic Search, which contains some very good insights into Semantic Search and ways to get the most out of it. Definitely worth a read. But my questions remain.

In a general sense, if semantic search is based around questions, and many in my target audience do not yet know that they need what I am writing about, what are they aware of that they are searching for? Only if there are elements of that in my articles, will their search argument return my content!

Does me not finding content around “what is my target audience searching for” mean that these questions have not been considered at length and such articles do not exist? This somehow seems unlikely, but where are they? Hidden in the context reversal of search engines that presume we typed the wrong thing?

If you know of any, please post their links below. Or by all means, please, engage right here in the comments section. I think it’s a fascinating subject that has a lot of room for innovation.


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Andy Capaloff

Andy Capaloff is the COO of Curatti. Prior to moving into the world of Content Marketing, Social Media Management and the day-to-day running of a Digital Marketing company, Andy spent over 3 decades in various aspects of IT. It is here that he honed his writing and technical skills, and his ability to ask uncommon questions.