I call it “the Burger King Syndrome,” the idea that in today’s increasingly fragmented, tech-driven media universe, the only rule that matters is as simple and powerful as their long-ago ad slogan, “Have it your way” (or no way at all).
Over the past few years, what was once a world of quaintly interactive Flash- and HTML-based “new media” Web experiences has morphed into a digital universe that’s highly personalizable, sharable, and social. The Web has changed from a place for content retrieval to one of real-time content creation, participation, collaboration, and exhibition.
Here are some digital numbers every marketer should know:
- Over 1 billion people participate in social networking worldwide, with a growth rate of about 25% per year, according to research firm comScore. The growth rate in Europe is 35%; in the Middle East, it’s 66%.
- At least 60% of wealthy consumers in the United States belong to social networking sites. According to a recent Wealth Survey from the Luxury Institute, American consumers with an average income of $287,000 and an average net worth of 2.1 million typically have memberships in 2.8 social networks and an average of 110 connections.
- Over 100 million Americans send and receive text messages on any given day—including 65% of all mobile subscribers under the age of thirty. Over 83% of teens use text messaging, based on a 2009 Nielsen study.
- Nearly 8 million people regularly use Twitter and similar applications.
- Nearly 62% of all Internet users in the United States—some 184 million people—consume the kind of free or ad-supported online video to be found at Blip.tv, YouTube, Hulu, or subscription-based served like Time-Warner Cable’s TV Everywhere service. According to Pew, nearly 57% of these viewers routinely send links to videos they’ve watched to others, creating a network multiplier effect that frequently produces viral hits.
- Nearly 15% of online consumers actually post their own “user-generated” videos on sites like YouTube, according to Pew, where they can be instantly shared with the 79 million people who have so far viewed the some 3 billion videos there.
- Nearly 4 million online Americans regularly log onto virtual worlds like PlayStation Home, Second Life, There, and Vivaty.
- By 2012, based on projections by Forrester Research, marketers are expected to spend $61 billion a year on digital platforms to create emotional connections with customers—and to generate breathtaking competitive advantage through the power of now.
So, how do you create the kind of experiences needed to engage these consumers? How do you identify and capitalize on the right mix of digital outlets and interactions that will build awareness and demand for your offerings—before your audience clicks onto something more interesting?
Five rules for digital marketing success in an anytime, everywhere world:
Rule #1: Insight comes before inspiration. The most successful digital initiatives typically don’t start with the idea for a cool new digital experience. Instead, they start with consumer insights culled from painstaking research into who your customers are, what they’re all about, how they interact with consumer technologies, and what they want from the brands they know and trust.
Case in point: Dove’s “Campaign for Real Beauty.”
Rule #2: Don’t repurpose, reimagine. Creating multiplatform strategies that connect with audiences where they live doesn’t just mean posting television spots on YouTube in the hope they’ll go viral. In a medium where the possibilities are endless, television is the jumping off point to much more interactive and engaging experiences. You’ve got to invent new ways to help your customers make your brand their own.
Case in point: HBO’s Voyeur Project.
Rule #3: Don’t just join the conversation—spark it. Out of the over 600,000 branded pages that Facebook Page Tracker monitors, a mere 57,000 have more than 1,000 “fans.” Apparently, most people don’t want to be friends with a brand. If you want to be part of the conversation on social networking sites, be the party that initiates it—through compelling experiences that keep customers talking.
Case in point: Johnson & Johnson’s BabyCenter.
Rule #4: There’s no business without show business. Your brand is a story; tell it. Don’t just sell product; sell the problem it solves, the feeling it gives, the status it conveys, or the value it embodies. But beware of pushing to transform your brand’s Website into an “entertainment portal” simply for entertainment’s sake. In the on-demand era, the best branded entertainment experiences are P-O-S-itive—that is: personalizable, ownable, and sharable.
Case in point: Degree antiperspirant’s webisode series “The Rookie.”
Rule #5: Want control? Give it away. “User-generated content” (UGC) might not be cutting edge (it’s been featured on ABC-TV’s America’s Funniest Home Videos for nearly 20 years), but it’s a big-time buzz builder. Young consumers, especially adolescent males, seem more than happy to create their own video ads to upload on YouTube and e-mail to friends. How do you give away control while simultaneously getting what you want? Ensure rewards for making UGC promote your brand, rather than mock or bash it.
Case in point: Doritos’ $1 million contest for creating a Super Bowl commercial, which, according to the company, generated $36 million in free publicity for the brand before and after the big game.
© 2010 Rick Matieson. Adapted from The On-demand Brand: 10 Rules for Digital Marketing Success in an Anytime, Everywhere World by Rick Mathieson. Published by AMACOM, a division of American Management Association.