- Tue, June 19 2012
- Filed under: Social Media
If there’s one thing that’s changed in marketing lately, it’s the relative importance of the messenger. Not so long ago, the world was dominated by broadcast marketing - also known as “spray and pray.” You were the messenger, and you’d promulgate your official message to as many people as possible, praying that someone would listen - and buy, give or act. And a lot of the time it worked. Old-school advertisers will remember Sarnoff’s Law, which said the value of a radio or TV station was proportional to the number of listeners or viewers. When a viewer was added, the value of ad space went up by one.
But in an era when most of the world’s population has a phone and half connect to the Internet, the most important messengers aren’t the official ones - they are our peers, whose opinions are just a click away. When Edelman’s 2012 Trust Barometer came out earlier this year, the biggest finding was the increasing stock people put in the recommendations of people like them. We’ve all experienced it. When is the last time you trusted an ad for a hotel over a review on Trip Advisor? In speaking about this finding, David Armano of Edelman noted, it is important that we “share the stage with ‘regular’ people who have a voice via a variety of social channels,” as well as to be “in tune with the topics and issues they care about and discuss.”
So what model applies to this new peer-dominated world?
One has been Metcalfe’s Law, which says the value of a telecommunications network is proportional to the square of the number of connected users. In other words, value is created when networks of people are connected to each other. People can talk in both directions, with more than one conversation occurring simultaneously. This idea of course doesn’t take into account the concept of a saturation point, though. Then along came Reed’s Law, which says that the power of the network grows with the formation of groups or communities within it. This harkens back to yesterday’s post - you can’t grow a huge, engaged network on and on without allowing pockets of special interests to evolve within it.
The other week, I was at a conference with Tim Love, CEO of Omnicom’s Asia Pacific/India/Middle East/Africa region. He recently wrote an article walking through these various models, and he points out that it’s too simplistic to measure the value of contacts and networks mathematically. After all, human beings’ connections are not all created equal. He says emotion matters, too.
So he’s proposed Love’s Law. It’s the idea that the nature of the network and its members is the most important way to think about its strength and influence. A network is stronger if people have collective purpose, beyond self-interest. That’s why the community around beloved brands is vibrant - and why the one around your cause should be, too.
Love told me, “In a post-digital world where people are the first media, non-profits engaged in social causes have the opportunity to harness networks of people directly. This will require a clear, consistent and transparent purpose as well as an always on awareness of competing appeals for a person’s interests and heart.” In other words, the value of the networks you tap isn’t about Metcalfe or Reed as much as your ability to knit a strong bond around the vision you are trying to accomplish.
So back to the idea of messenger. It’s not enough for you to be talking to your community. By any of these modern laws - Metcalfe, Reed or Love - you want people speaking for you.You need respected authority figures, experts and definitely, everyday champions - who are more powerful than ever.