Recently I took a photo in New York of something I thought to be particularly interesting. I uploaded it to twitpic and posted it on my twitter page. The net result was approx 100 views of the image. Here it is below:
Fast forward 2 months and the image is ‘re-tweeted’ back to me from someone else after it has made the rounds and it now has more than 38,000 views. Holy Wow. (You can click the image to see the current view count)
How did it get 38,000+ views after only 100 people cared when I first posted it? Well the answer is simple, it’s digital, which means its footprint stays forever – the digital footprint. And when someone more influential on the web than me share’s it, it spreads in a compound fashion. Sure it got shared, call it viral, call it what you please. But the thing of true power here is the digital footprint. It wasn’t an instant in market reaction. The spreading happened 2 months after the launch. Not the day it went to air, like a TV advertisement.
The lesson for startups and marketers is simple. The real power of digital media is the footprint it leaves, the permanency, and the ability for people to catch up. This is something traditional media (newspapers, radio, billboards, Tv) just don’t have.
I’ve blogged before many times about how to generate brand awareness with limited or zero budget. The list of tools available is pretty long actually. No need to list them here – you know what they are. But to use them effectively takes two important ingredients:
Ingredient No 1: Frequency
If we think are are going to start a brand blog, a youtube channel, twitter account and all our communication problems will be solved over night, then we have really not understood what has happened with social media. If I was to summarize it it succinctly. I’d say – we’ve gone from a ‘produced’ world to an ‘organic’ world. The produced world took large capital investments. The organic world is free, but not everything grows, and those that do take time. It’s a lot like nature, free but time & frequency of events is the asset.
The more often we return to our crop and nurture it, the healthier the return we’ll get. Occasionally something will just click. We only have to do something ‘once’ and it will grow astoundingly with little input other than the raw ingredients. The market will take get hold of the communication and we’ll crack it – it’ll go viral. This is the anomaly – it happens so rarely, that we know about it every time. Best advice is to assume it wont happen to us.
Ingredient No 2: Patience
We don’t have to buy the communication asset. They’re here, we have been given them, but we have to work them. We need to allow time for our compound effort to accumulate. Be patient and trust that our continual effort and focus on frequency, will work in the long run.
Patience has something on its side that the old media world didn’t – digital foot prints. Our stuff stays on line forever. So when a passionate web surfer finds one of our things they like – they can do a back catalog on our stuff. This is when things can work, even months after launch date. A TV ad on the other hand has one shot at the eyeballs. If it’s missed by the target market, it’s all too late.
No doubt, we need to build great stuff for people to care, but in the new world of zero cost communications, Startups can can get it wrong and learn as we go.
Just saw this amazing grab from the film ‘Network‘ circa 1976. Watch it, then think about the opportunity of the internet and our ‘own’ global communication channels we’ve been gifted. Then start something, anything, start something which makes the world a better place. Do this and the money will follow you.