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HBR选读:What Trump Understands About Using Social Media to Drive Attention  

2017-03-02 03:27:56|  分类: 领导力与管理学 |  标签: |举报 |字号 订阅

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HBR选读:What Trump Understands About Using Social Media to Drive Attention

 

 

Barbara Bickart, Susan Fournier and Martin Nisenholtz

 

Barbara Bickart is an associate professor of marketing at Boston University’s Questrom School of Business.

 

Susan Fournier is Questrom Professor of Management and Senior Associate Dean at Boston University.
 
Martin Nisenholtz is a professor of the practice of digital communications at Boston University’s College of Communications. He previously served as CEO of New York Times Digital.

 

MARCH 01, 2017

 

 

Throughout the recent U.S. presidential campaign, commentators of all political stripes urged Donald Trump to give his Twitter account a rest. He ignored them, bypassing mainstream media in favor of a technology that continued to deliver his provocative messages directly, frequently, at all hours, and without filters. While no hard proof exists that his tweets put him over the top in the election, they undeniably riveted the attention of a broad public, media included — and continue to do so. Here’s what business leaders can learn from the tweeter-in-chief about trying to win over large segments of consumers through social media.

 

“Big-seed” marketing beats viral. 

 

Duncan Watts, a principal researcher at Microsoft Research, has been studying the sociology of networks for decades. His notion of big-seed marketing suggests that a message can spread faster and more systematically if it is “seeded” among many people. That differs sharply from the viral approach, which attempts to create an “epidemic” of interest through a few targeted influencers, who spread a message among the people to whom they are connected. If those connections fail to pass on the message, it soon peters out. Big-seed marketing is more reliable than designing content that mimics the qualities of cat videos in the hope of going viral. Companies like BuzzFeed have used the big-seed model to create successful news websites and advertising businesses.

Trump exploited Watts’s theory at scale. He began with an enormous seedbed: Just before Election Day he had more than 19 million Twitter followers, 18 million Facebook fans, and nearly 5 million followers on Instagram. The broadcast and cable networks — almost unwittingly — amplified Trump’s network capabilities. Every time they reported on a tweet or posting, they effectively seeded the message among millions of viewers, many of whom, in turn, shared these messages. This offline/online complementarity helped Trump double his Twitter following during the campaign. Social and broadcast media work hand in hand, and Trump understood this better than his rivals, gaining by some estimatesalmost $2 billion in free air time through March 2016.

The takeaway for business leaders is obvious: Study the principles of big-seed marketing and apply them by seeding your messages among as many contact points as possible.

 

You can’t gain the benefits of scale unless you have attention-grabbing content. 

 

Traditional media would not have been so complicit if Trump’s tweets hadn’t been so provocative as to be irresistible. His tweets call out specific individuals and demand a response. What is remarkable is that he engages in these personal confrontations in front of a mass audience — for example, with actress Meryl Streep, with the CEO of Ford, and with a local union leader at a Carrier plant in Indianapolis. Those on the receiving end quickly learn that the bigger their brand, the more it comes into the crosshairs, and, sometimes, the harder it falls (though being on the receiving end can also be of great benefit, as the New York Times and Nordstrom can attest).

Trump’s tweets are provocative because they strike raw nerves, speaking boldly to themes that people struggle to work through: race, nationalism versus globalism, financial insecurity, status inequity, sexism, and more. Fans cheer him on by retweeting and favoring his messages, while his enemies hope to get under his skin through their posts and replies. Trump uses tweets to seek cultural resonance, today’s branding nirvana, and he finds it. He understands that while he is an author of brand meaning, branding is a joint activity — a coproduction on a cultural stage.

Twitter’s 140-character limit provokes by encouraging messages that are ripe for misquoting. Within these constraints, Trump doesn’t have to explain details or elaborate on context, and this allows multiple interpretations of the message. The format invites controversy, encouraging media pickup and growing the audience in kind.

Leaders should consider how they could make their messages provocative in order to draw attention and encourage discussion far beyond the social media platforms on which the message was originally posted. Deciding how far to go, though, means carefully weighing the risks against the rewards (discussed below).

 

The raw presentation of self creates a personal relationship. 

 

Unlike former president Barack Obama, who primarily used social media to mobilize supporters en masse, Trump uses Twitter to address his audience directly as individuals. Trump’s tweets are unfiltered, spontaneous, and reveal his personal feelings and emotions about everything from the media to L.L. Bean, creating the impression that a relationship is in play. Like or hate the approach, people believe they know the real Trump. This seemingly person-to-person disclosure of the man, warts and all, grants coveted authenticity and a stronger base of influence (and backlash) than mass communication ever could.

The lesson for business leaders? Authenticity matters. It is the secret ingredient that converts one-to-many messages to one-to-one relationships, with outsize benefits for the brand.

 

Weigh the risks against the returns. 

 

Going directly to the public with an authentic voice is cost-effective. Trump’s use of Twitter gained him enormous traction at a fraction of what his rivals spent to spread their messages. During the Republican nominating contests Trump vanquished 16 opponents while spending virtually no money on ads. On television advertising, for example, he spent about $2 per vote he won in the primaries, a fraction of Chris Christie’s $257 per vote (the highest among Republicans), Lindsey Graham’s $247 per vote, and Jeb Bush’s $241. In the general election Hillary Clinton outspent Trump almost three to one on television advertising — $211.4 million and $74 million, respectively, through October 2016. And although Trump did increase his ad spending in the closing weeks of the campaign, much of it went to social media.

But this accounting exercise fails to acknowledge that the strategy bears major risks. Messages that gain traction work through the power of provocation. They polarize, alienate, and enflame. They push the limits and make people uncomfortable. They come from communicators who are simply not afraid to be wrong. The question for business leaders who might consider borrowing some of that strategy is: How provocative are you willing to be?

No one has leveraged big-seed marketing and the virtuous circle of online and offline media to become president before. But there have been other notable success stories: Richard Branson has 9.2 million Twitter followers. Mark Cuban, who sold an unprofitable web site to Yahoo, in 1999 for $5.7 billion, bought the Dallas Mavericks, stars on Shark Tank, and now claims 6.1 million Twitter followers. The mother of all celebrity executives is probably Kim Kardashian. She has translated her 49.5 million followers, fed by an enormously popular television show, into a $300 million business empire.

All of these now household names have been provocative in their own way, but no one has dialed it up as far as Trump. Perhaps the closest analogue to Trump in the business world is John Legere, CEO of T-Mobile, who from his position as underdog has regularly inflamed the competition (and has even gone head to head with Trump himself) in order to build his brand.

Most CEOs seem to wisely prefer the relatively safe approach of developing intimacy through personal disclosure rather than provocation to build audience. CEOs who can speak in an authentic voice, one that feels honest and personal, are most likely to connect with the audience. Consider Box’s CEO, Aaron Levie, providing revelatory commentary on Trump’s tweets, Richard Branson posting poems he wrote for his first girlfriend, Tim Cook recommending the new One Republic album, or Oprah Winfrey confessing her love for the Chicago Cubs during the World Series. That is why CEOs’ individual Twitter accounts get significantly more engagement on social media than corporate or brand accounts do.

Extreme provocation may be advisable only when the CEO has nothing to lose, which was was true for both Trump as a long-shot candidate during the election and Legere as third fiddle in the cellular world. As Trump’s presidency gets under way the implications of his strategy are at best unclear and remain largely untested in the business context. But as 2016 has proven, we’re truly in a new branding world.

 

 

以上内容摘自:

https://hbr.org/2017/03/what-trump-understands-about-using-social-media-to-drive-attention 

 

 

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