Monday, February 15, 2021

Growing Your Reach with Borrowed Platforms and Piggyback Marketing

by Karen Whiting @KarenHWhiting

What’s in a term?
  • Platforms borrowed or owned
  • Piggyback Marketing
Do we understand what the above terms mean and how to harness the power of any of them, or the downfalls of some of them? The way we engage become strategies or methods that help us grow our reach, become more visible, and hopefully grown our owned platforms, so let’s examine each term.

Borrowed Platforms

Michael Hyatt defined a borrowed platform as follows

A borrowed platform, like a large number of Twitter followers, isn’t really a platform – it can be taken away from you. A really effective platform is one that you own, like a mailing list or a blog. This is the difference between borrowed or owned followers. Alas, the borrowed platform can change the rules and kick you off, block you, or make you invisible as we see FB doing all the time.

Hyatt and others talk of FB, twitter, etc. as borrowed platforms if you do not own or control them. He spent four years to get 1000 readers monthly and then it quickly grew to 20k. Once he knew how to keep 1000 followers, he could please many more and his followers would invite them. Thus, he built a large platform that he owns.

Bookbub and Goodreads are platforms we borrow to announce new releases and get reviews and people promoting our books. The commonality there is that readers join to discover new books or find out more about favorite authors. They are a defined borrowed platforms of book lovers.

Piggyback marketing

Piggyback marketing, according to, is where you use the popularity of one business trend or brand to give your own brand a boost. It uses a corporate or individual’s success to get noticed and promoted. It is defined as using the popularity or another brand or trend to garner attention. The slogan, it’s the real thing started with Coca-Cola, but many others borrowed it and added a twist to bring attention to their brand. It was even used to talk about Jesus-He’s the REAL thing.

A group can piggyback with one another in joining forces when they share the same audience. So, creating a team blog of successful people helps the whole group while piggybacking off each other’s success. 

We also piggyback when we do a guest post, interview, or even with an endorsement. We gain from their reputation and platform they built. They showcase you to their followers and you can gain more of your own followers if they like your content. So, with the blog post people can look up your website and subscribe to your newsletter to become part of your owned list.

We try to use the borrowed platform like FB to get people to subscribe to our newsletter/list also.

And, when we get off a borrowed platform, we weaken that borrowed platform (as big as FB is that takes a lot to make a dent, but Christians have been leaving them in significant quantities only they are so huge it has probably had little impact on them. Losing thousands when you have more than a billion is not that big a deal).

Piggyback examples

Charmin used the red carpet popularity of the Oscars with a congratulations to winners and words to look to the bottom, with a woman dressed for the Oscars walked out with a trail of toilet paper flowing out from under her gown. That’s called newsjacking. 

Harnessing trends and hashtags with a twist is another way to piggyback. That’s when an image from a trend is incorporated in an ad of another company or brand. That’s where Lego created an ad during the Oscars with a Lego figure in a tux holding up a tiny golden Lego like a trophy.

Memes that morph into something humorous and applied to other content with a new twist of humor also piggyback on the original meme success.

Adding to Our Reach and Power of Our Words

We may be using a combination of the borrowed platform and piggyback marketing. If we write regularly for a magazine we benefit from the reach of their audience. We may even get paid for the writing as they are using our expertise. It a contract that is mutually beneficial. Their numbers, such as when I wrote for Focus on the Family’ parenting magazine, can be very high and extend our reach greatly. Contracts define the ownership (rights) and often allow us to keep the writing as our own property where we can reuse it and they can post it and keep it up.

We can showcase that reach by sharing the readership of magazines and blogs that use our words regularly, such as being a regular Crosswalk contributor that has more than two million followers. It helps if we to show impact such as a screen image when our article is number one on Crosswalk or an email stating the article had 20k hits in the first few hours. 

Make the most of opportunities by understanding what they are and how you can best use them. Be kind to those who let you piggyback by mentioning them, linking to their sites, when they feature your writing, promoting their new releases, praying for them, and sending a letter of thanks. 

Karen Whiting ( is an international speaker, former television host of Puppets on Parade, certified writing and marketing coach, and award-winning author of twenty-seven books for women, children, and families. Her newest book, The Gift of Bread: Recipes for the Heart and the Table reflects her passion for bread and growing up helping at her grandparent’s restaurant. Check out her newest book Growing a Mother’s Heart: Devotions of Faith, Hope, and Love from Mothers Past, Present, and Future. It's full of heartwarming and teary eyed stories of moms.

Karen has a heart to grow tomorrow’s wholesome families today. She has written more than eight hundred articles for more than sixty publications and loves to let creativity splash over the pages of what she writes. She writes for Crosswalk. Connect with Karen on Twitter @KarenHWhiting Pinterest KarenWhiting FB KarenHWhiting


  1. Thank you, Karen, for adding power to how we build our platforms.

  2. Karen, I so appreciate all you've shared here. As someone who's trying to build her platform, your suggestions and insights are very helpful!

  3. You are both welcome. There are so many terms and ideas passed around that we need to know what they mean and how each impacts us.