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New Media: Same As The Old Media

Odd things happen when revolutionary ideas come out. The advent of “new media” or “social media” has led some people to conclude that the rules of “old media” don’t apply. This is true in some cases — for instance, the company no longer has control of the message. But when attracting audiences and getting value to customers, many of the old media rules still apply.

Mack Collier, host and emcee of the excellent blog “The Viral Garden,” has a post about “The ‘Authority Matters’ Argument” on Twitter. He says it better than I do, but the gist of it is that it’s not how many Twitter followers one gets a post out to, it’s how compelling the post is.

Mack’s post (and specifically, the “Authority” argument that he’s critiquing) reminds me of one of my first tradeshow experiences. I was working for a computer security company, and we had a tradeshow booth that was, in my opinion, awesome: we had a James Bond-type theme, and we hired a sexy actor/actress combo to do a skit with a computer security twist. We had some sort of spy gadget type giveaway — and we got hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of leads.

But when our salespeople followed up with those leads, no one wanted to talk about our products or get a demo. They had all simply wanted to look at the sexy people — which is why they stayed for the skit and got their badges scanned — or get a free spy gadget. The tens of thousands of dollars we had spent on the actors and the spy gadgets had attracted an audience — but not an audience that would buy our stuff.

We had forgotten one of the rules of marketing: target specific audiences and make it clear that you provide value.

Mack’s point is that the size of one’s Twitter network does not necessarily equal influence, just like the number of leads at a tradeshow does not necessarily equal revenue. It seems to me that some people have ignored the value proposition in the Twitter world. But it’s still true. Targeting audiences with specific value that you can deliver: it works better at tradeshows, and it works better on Twitter.

Categories: Marketing
  1. December 30, 2008 at 7:49 am

    It’s definitely true that the quality of the audience matters more than its size.

    Even in the online world I’ve found this to be true. In my own blog, when I have an article become popular on one of the generic sites (e.g. Reddit, Digg) I get many thousands of hits but few subscribers (I believe in the 0.2-0.5% range).

    However when an article does well on a specific sharing site (e.g. Sphinn for a marketing piece or HackerNews for an inspiring piece about starting your own company), I get less traffic but far more subscribers (I think around 1-3%).

    Also I share your experience with tradeshows. Almost without exception our best showings were at small (fewer than 500 attendees) but specific conferences. Getting in front of 10x the people but have only 1/10th of them interested is a huge waste of time — and tiring — even though mathematically it’s the same thing.

  2. December 30, 2008 at 1:20 pm

    A powerful lesson, Paul. Thanks for sharing.

    It’s no longer a matter of how many eyeballs you can reach … it’s about getting in front of the *right* eyeballs.

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