It’s budget planning time at my office. We all know the drill, guesstimate/forecast what we’ll need for next year’s campaigns and marketing initiatives, and hope we are right, that we didn’t miss anything too much. Accounting for the new and the not “tried-and-true” are the challenges.
Budgeting is an accounting activity; an increase in one bucket is offset with a decrease in another (or two or three) buckets. Justification and metrics are the holy grail, and new endeavors are kept to the same strict success/failure measures as the formerly done. Those are the rules. But as a product marketer, we live with our feet in two worlds, the present and the possible. Budgeting is so hard to do in the “possible.”
One of these challenging “possibilities” to budget for is social marketing – viral marketing – community building. Truth be told, we too have our big toe in that water, but it’s fairly new territory for us, and hard to predict what we’ll need and the corresponding costs, never mind how to determine if the outcomes justify the re-allocation of resources.
Lesson on my way to the market.
Early this week I learned a lesson about social marketing and how it happens virally, which I’d like to share. It might help shed light on where your biggest return will come if you apply social marketing to certain products or market segments. To do that, one needs to understand the dynamics.
My lesson began Monday when I witnessed a perfect rainbow. Simply perfect. Common enough, we all know rainbows – but this one stood out. Not just for me, but also for the others, those around me in the parking lot and later in the grocery store. There was something special about that particular rainbow and it touched us all.
I am a thinker, so I can be odd, not at all like the Jane or Joe you meet in every store or cafe. Yet, that rainbow had us all talking, me the odd/they the norm, “did you see that rainbow”? Makes me wonder what characteristic that rainbow had which gained all our attention; we stopped, looked, remembered and commented.
I noticed we were all together uplifted, taken away for a moment from our day-to-day tasks into the sublime. Nature made us a cathedral and it was perfect. For the moment, we were a community formed around a rainbow.
Here is what a busy lady packing away her groceries said to me (a complete stranger) – “They are supposed to be lucky, don’t you agree”? Another said “Magnificent!” while continuing to look skyward. Others said, “I heard about it, wish I saw that.”
I believe we were participating in social marketing communication in the real world. Those that participated in the event felt moved to speak of it. They were so moved and spoke eloquently enough that those who didn’t see the event spoke of it. Why? because the sight of that perfectly formed rainbow made an emotional connection within each, and that caused a need to talk about it and what it meant personally – to strangers and even to those who didn’t see the event. It mattered and the community talked about it.
This is relevant information for those embarking on using social marketing and test-casing social media tools within their product campaigns for the first time. The “event/product/message” must be real, it must matter and it must almost compel your followers, fans, community to talk it up.
Always continue the [relevant] conversation.
Simply put, when you plan your next social media campaign, think of the rainbow and how it created its own BuZZ. That rainbow was easy to see, perfect, had high emotion/value (perfect is rare), and it could be described/talked about in many ways, allowing more of the community to express themselves, keeping the conversation fresh and ongoing -most importantly, inviting others to participate.
Who’d have thought that rainbows had it all figured out?