I watched Moneyball the other day. It is a great movie about a baseball coach, Billy Beane, who develops a new way of creating a team and has massive success despite the financial limitations of the team. According to the film, baseball teams were all created with the same set of rules for the last 100 years. The scouts and managers looked for what they thought was the archetypal player for certain positions. Once they had found that player, they tried to bid for them in the draft system and how much money you had determined the quality of that player.
Beane and his assistant discovered that there was opportunities with players that had been undervalued and that by studying the statistics and applying a new formula and criteria, they could put together a team that out performed it’s perceived value. In essence they changed the paradigm of “spend big and get the best” which was prevelant not just in baseball but in sports across the world.
Pre-social marketing had a similar paradigm. The more you spent the more you got.It was a system that was built on the idea that, if people hear and see your message lots of times, they will act on it. Your money dictated your reach, influence and ultimately your success. Occasionally good creative would break through a little bit, but these instances were rare because again, in order to get good creative more often than not you would have to hire a good creative company and this again, cost money.
The ability for a brand to have owned and earned media has changed the game. Brands with a relatively small budget can now compete with the big players on an even field because in social media, spend does not necessarily gaurantee a win. Why? Because a win is now longer defined as numbers of likes and views. The key performance indicators of social media are engagement and brand advocacy. We now have the ability to have a relationship between consumer and brand and to quote the Beatles, “Money can’t buy me love”.
Knowing your consumer and having the ability to engage with them is the key here. As a brand you are better to have a smaller number of highly engaged brand mavens as your owned media than to have a large number of passive Likes on a page. The big brands cannot pay their way out of this, they have to engage. The trouble is that for them, this is a difficult thing to do, it is the antithesis of how they have operated and succeeded for the last fifty years.
New brands and small brands though have the opportunity now to take the high ground. Be bold, be daring and put the consumer first. Engage with them, listen to them and create an army of people who love your brand. Old Spice showed that this approach can yield serious commercial results. They weren’t a big player when they launched their campaign, now they are the coolest deodorant brand around.
Marketing is maturing. It is no longer enough for people to just hear or see your message. It is about them actually relating to the message now.
Numbers of ears and eyes is a simple sum – Money x Frequency x Creative = Reach.
Engagement is a less simple equation –
Consumer Knowledge x Potential Advocacy x Creative x Relevance x Sharability x Honesty = Engagement
But it is an equation without one vital component, Money. It can help, it can continue to make a difference but it is not necessary and that is the key.
Take money out of your strategy for social at the beginning and look at your approach as if your brand has no money at all. Create the core of your strategy around engagement and allow media and creative spend to enhance your strategy rather than dictate it.