Poor Brian Sheehan. He’s taking a real beating for his column in Ad Age last week on how big brands are beating the little guys in the realm of social media.
To date, he’s attracted 21 comments, the majority of which read like this gem from pedels01:
“Do many small brands have the budgets to locate and enlist 100 major influencers and hand them all cars? Do they have the resources to create one of the most popular ads of the year and THEN create a series of viral videos that people go wild over? Do ANY of the small brands have the kind of brand name, awareness and connection that gains instant attention, awareness, and engagement?
This isn’t a crisis of imagination–it’s a crisis of resources. Sure, you have some small brand outliers who do clever things, but reality is, more resources, more people thinking at your behest, and more agency support yields more buzz, and that’s final.”
There’s no doubt that both Ford, Procter & Gamble and others have done a masterful job of leveraging social media to drive awareness and sales, but consider that the Fiesta launched involved giving away 100 cars to socially connected millennials and Old Spice invested millions in mass media advertising to drive its social media campaign and his argument falls short.
The best-ever example of the little guy using social media to get ahead is BlendTec, with its “Will it Blend?” video series, which remains the all-time most-watched viral video series, and in my opinion, does what any good marketing campaign should do—it showcases the superior features and benefits of the BlendTec blender.
If their blender is good enough to pulverize an iPad, it can probably handle a frozen margarita.
As I see it, social media works and can work well, provided you abide by the tried-and-true principles of marketing communications. If you can answer four basic questions, you dramatically improve your chances for success:
- Who are you?
- What do you do/what are you selling?
- How is your product/service better than your competitions’?
- Why should I care?
Sheehan’s not wrong; he’s just comparing apples and oranges.