Be Your Own Media Machine
With just one push of a button LeBron James (@KingJames) reaches 3.7 people who want to hear from him on Twitter; @LanceArmstrong reaches 3.3 million; @WholeFoods 2.2 million and @RedCross 652,679. On Facebook Nike reaches 8 million fans and the HBO show Twilight has 2.5 million. That’s power and influence.
Conversely America’s largest daily circulation newspaper, The Wall Street Journal, reaches 2.1 million subscribers – (@WSJ on Twitter reaches 1.5 followers).
In today’s digital world every individual, company and organization can be its own media machine. 2008 marked the social media tipping point when Facebook reached 100 million users and Twitter recorded 400 million tweets. Up until that time the “traditional” media had a virtual lock on all news and information. Yet, so many entities are reluctant to aggressively convert to a media strategy deeply grounded in digital.
For over a hundred years companies have had two basic media routes to reach their customers. The first was “earned media” in which a company prepares a press release provides it to reporters and hopes and prays for a positive story. A well-placed earned media story is extremely effective and lends great credibility to the product, however the company sacrifices control of the story. The outcome of stories is in the hands of the reporter and editors. Even a “good” story often includes criticism of some of the product’s flaws and comparison to competing brands.
The second route to customers has traditionally been advertising. Madison Avenue is virtually paved with gold shelled out by corporations using paid advertising to reach and influence its customers. Traditional advertising, which is expensive, is not as effective as an earned media story but the company gets to have complete control of the message and the audience.
Today, however, the message can be controlled, highly targeted and relatively inexpensive. The ability to engage audiences and for them to quickly spread the word is what makes social media so powerful. Nothing drives awareness, emotion and loyalty for a brand or idea like your friends and family talking about it.Continued on the next page