Here’s something I’ve been hearing for a few years now… “The playing field has leveled due to social media marketing; I have more access to my customers.” Let’s break that down and find out if it’s true.
With social media, there is more access to customers, but I don’t believe it necessarily levels the playing field. Can it? Yes! Has it? Depends (on the company, its competitors, and how all of them are approaching it).
For example, a category’s big brand leader has more money to spend on social media than its smaller competitors. Why? Because the big brand has more resources. In fact, it can afford to hire a big social media agency and have its own internal social media team. So how does social media help level the playing field for the little guy? It only does so if the big brand doesn’t use social media too (but they do).
Don’t get me wrong, I believe strongly in social media. We take full advantage of it for our clients…but not because it levels the playing field. More so because it’s an efficient, affordable way to get customers to share my underdog brand’s sharp opinion and the special moments they’ve experienced with my brand. That’s what will grow my brand.
For brands I’m targeting, there are two strategic opportunities I’ve identified that can help underdog brands get bigger.
1 – The brand leader can’t change or revise its brand easily. It’s too shackled by its legacy. But the underdog can.
2 – The big brand leader also can’t create special customer moments. It’s too big and impersonal due to its need for economies of scale. Again, the underdog can; especially with the use of clever, less expensive technologies that have democratized the process for doing so. And that’s why “giving your (underdog) brand a sharp opinion” and “creating special customer moments” is part of our core message.
After we have created a sharp opinion for a brand and created enough special customer moments, then (and only then) are my customers most inspired to transition into fanatically devoted customers. Fanatically devoted customers don’t just occasionally “like” me on facebook. They proactively (and more often) share my brand’s sharp opinion and our special moments together.
Saying social media will level the playing field is putting the cart before the horse. For social media to be truly effective, we first have to create the appropriate brand/product messaging and special customer moments. Otherwise, there’s no real fuel for the fire.