Can a Virtual Vuvuzela Help Make Your Voice Heard in the Social Media Universe?

It’s a really noisy world we’re living in, and the social media universe is no exception. Even with the tightest security settings and minimal online presence/popularity, you are still subject to advertising, invites, recommendations, requests, etc., most of which are not very useful to you.

And things will only get worse: Twitter will start selling followers, Facebook launched Facebook Marketing Solutions to help brands and companies promote their products and services… this will create even more noise in the social media world.

It seems that one of the strategies companies use to make their voices heard in all this noise is to be even noisier. Which reminds me of the famous vuvuzelas, a trumpet-like instrument used during the World Cup of soccer in South Africa, and which proved to be rather more annoying than useful.

Can a Virtual Vuvuzela Help in Social Media?

The answer is no, and here are two reasons why:

- Annoying people may get some attention, but will likely generate more frustration, which may prompt them to ignore you. Remember the story of the boy who cried wolf? When you’re making a lot of noise about “best of breed” or “revolutionary” products, your credibility is walking a very high high-wire indeed. As an example, I recently unsubscribed from a Web site sending me white paper suggestions because they were sending at least 10 e-mails a day and some were exactly the same content two or three times.

- There is a law in economics about the diminishing marginal utility of a product, which states that the more units you consume of the same product, the lower its utility will be. The same rule applies to Hollywood-like sequels of a big hit, which most of the time are not very successful, particularly when they are simply repackaging the same idea in a different form. Here’s an example of some social media hits and the lack of success (measured in hits) enjoyed by their sequels:

United Breaks Guitar 

Suite Mates 

What Does, Work Then?

Being creative means not only having great ideas, but also finding great ways to deliver them to your audience. You need to surprise your audience and make them feel they’re a part of the show. The first set of Old Spice videos brought millions of views, with success being primarily due to the fact that they released more videos in response to the feedback they received from celebrities and non-celebrities alike.

But great ideas may not translate into universal acclaim, so you should be ready to risk a lot, especially when using unorthodox ways to promote your products. As an example, KitKat launched a campaign in The Netherlands that started as an e-mail showing the face of Jesus in a KitKat chocolate bar. People were puzzled and amused, and it spread like wildfire all over the Internet. However, not every company is prepared to risk the potential backlash provoked by such a campaign.

Probably the most difficult strategy for making your voice heard in the social media universe is through constant delivery of valuable and relevant content to your audience. Websites like Read Write Web and FasTake are very successful because of just that. This is challenging, because it really is hard to know how much is too much for social media users.

In conclusion, the beauty but also the main challenge of social media is that it provides the environment and tools to continuously re-invent ourselves, promote new ideas, and approach old ideas from so many different angles… which is not only a prerequisite of any social media strategy but also a must for business success.
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