All Commentary
Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Reaching Further Out

Have you heard about our upcoming youth messaging project, in partnership with the John Templeton Foundation? I hope you’ll keep reading to learn how this project will drive toward our goal of expanding the free-market educational landscape.

FEE’s purpose is to introduce freedom as a life philosophy to young people, advancing toward a world in which the principles of liberty are familiar and credible to the next generation. This will require us to bring our freedom philosophy to much larger audiences than ever before.

To this end, we aspire to be a leader in knowing the youth audience, and in particular, those who do not already share our philosophical perspective.

Our audience has grown dramatically – traffic on is about triple the rate of two years ago. This growth is largely through social media and web searches, meaning that we are primarily reaching (a) friends of friends and (b) people who are actively looking for our type of content.

To cast a wider net, we need to reach people who are not tightly connected to our traditional followers and who are not actively seeking us out.

We can’t expect to spark interest among a wider audience without knowing the interests of that audience. We can’t expect to generate engagement without knowing what kind of messaging the wider audience responds to. We can’t expect to reach a wide audience cost-effectively without knowing their media habits.

Our recently announced youth messaging project, with major funding generously provided by the John Templeton Foundation, is designed to give us these kinds of insights. We will develop short-form video products in a variety of genres, each designed to reach a particular segment of the youth audience. Digital distribution will target those segments.

The videos will seek to appeal more to young people’s values, aspirations, and moral sense than to their analytical side. They will focus more on narrative and humor than on didactic approaches.

Messaging, framing and distribution will be tested to determine what delivers the most engagement from the target segments. Engagement will be measured by views, click-throughs, shares, second clicks, email capture, repeat visits, and so on.

Our intention is not only to find ways to distribute the ideas of liberty more broadly, but also to produce actionable insights that we can share with the entire freedom movement on how to present our ideas to audiences who are new to them.

Are you ready to begin talking with people unlike ourselves? FEE is.

  • Wayne Olson is the Chairman of FEE's Board of Trustees and a former executive director of the Foundation for Economic Education.