Keith Errington

marketing strategy
07860 267155

Zero cost Social Marketing beats unrestrained marketing campaign

The real significance of the battle for the UK’s Christmas No 1 Single.

In the red corner we have a massive marketing campaign based around the TV series X Factor, that pulls in millions of viewers and airs dozens of episodes – backed up by websites, advertising, TV spots, point of sale, dozens of articles in newspapers and magazines – all run by a multi-million dollar media mogul responsible for Pop Idol and American Idol, who has years of experience. This mammoth marketing machine hasn’t failed to deliver a number one single at Christmas in the UK for the past four years.

In the blue corner we have two music fans and a free Facebook campaign.

Guess who wins?

In the UK we may have witnessed the single* biggest demonstration yet of the power of social media over conventional marketing. It is difficult to see how you can argue with the value of social marketing when a free campaign beats a professionally run and massively funded media blitz.

There has been much written about Jon and Tracy Morter and their campaign to get ‘real music’ back in the charts at Christmas – but few of the journalists seemed to understand the way social networking or Facebook works, let alone get the enormity of what’s happened. They’ve missed the implications for marketing and the huge disparity in the economics of the campaigns.

Not only did the Facebook campaign not cost any money – it actually raised a significant sum for the UK’s homeless charity Shelter.

The other major battle here was between CD sales and downloads. The single that Jon picked for his campaign – Rage Against the Machine’s ‘Killing in the Name’ [WARNING: Explicit lyrics] was only available by download. Whereas the X Factor’s winner Joe McElderry’s single was also sold as a CD.

The campaign not only stopped X Factor from getting its usual, guaranteed Christmas number 1, but set a record for the fastest selling download single in the UK charts - as well as being the first single to reach No 1 at Christmas on downloads alone.

As the deadline for sales neared, Joe McElderry’s single was slashed to a mere 29p (about 18 cents) just to try and compete. So you could also value the Facebook campaign in terms of the amount of revenue lost in that price cut.

The campaign that started with a Facebook group, then a page, then was tweeted by the comedian Peter Serafinowicz (268,000 plus followers), picked up by the press (and given mostly fairly negative, or at least cynical comments), supported by celebs, the comedian and musician Bill Bailey (120,000 followers), and the good old NME - eventually reached over 980,000 fans on Facebook, has raised over £80,000 (so far) for charity, and sold over 50,000 more singles than its X Factor rival.

Oh and it also cost the bookies an estimated £1 million – they guessed wrong.

(*pun intended)

I should point out, declaring my interests, that I don’t watch X Factor and I did buy ‘Killing in the Name’. Damn fine single in my opinion.

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Why Facebook, Twitter, MySpace and LinkedIn make good company

We are moving towards an era where organisations will simply have to behave themselves.

A lot has been written about the increasing influence of social networking on marketing and the way an organisation interacts with its customers and staff.

It is clear that a major change is taking place, with marketing in particular no longer being driven by pushing messages onto all and sundry. Now we have a customer driven paradigm where users dictate what information they would like to see.

Social networking has enabled organisations to listen to customers and respond in a way that has not been really possible before. But what if we take all these developments to their logical conclusion?

I believe that we are about to see an age where organisations will have to become moral, ethical and well, basically well-behaved. Corporate cultures will have to change and corporate governance, fair trading, best practice and ethical operations will gain a new importance.

As organisations are discussed, recommended and criticised online, in an infrastructure which anyone can access and search – any potential customer, investor or job candidate will be able to see an organisation’s track record, get an idea of their culture and judge them good or bad.

This will force organisations in two directions – some – financial institutions perhaps – will become more and more secretive – hoping that a complete lack of communication will stem the tide of opinion and comment. 

This approach is clearly unsustainable in the long term, leading to a whole range of problems – distance from the market – a sense of distrust from customers in the absence of any information – and even groupthink on the part of the organisation’s leaders as they lack the feedback they would otherwise be getting from their customers.

The more enlightened organisations will move in the opposite direction – encouraging openness – developing watchdogs and engaging with the online population to help improve their practices, products and ultimately, their standing in the world.

So maybe social networking and web 2.0 will actually achieve what no amount of legislation, protest and preaching have yet managed – a world in which organisations act for the best interests of the planet and its people.

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