Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Marketing: Why it's a Waltz vs. a Tango

Spoiler Alert: I'm not going to tell you anything that you don't already know in this post. I'm just reinforcing something that I was reminded of last night as I was helping my wife ramp up for her new job which is to do a little social media marketing for an online publication/content hub.

To be honest, it's always easier to market a company that has great content and fortunately the company she is working for has great content in spades. It's also makes it easy when a company hands you the reigns (with some guidance of course) but doesn't give you eight billion rules and regulations that you need to follow (I know, I know... I worked in financial services for nine years... some companies need to be strict about how they market... but still).

Here comes the roll up the sleeves part. Yup, the part where I tell you why it's the waltz versus the tango. As my wife was going through her company's Twitter account we started talking about ways to engage their audience. By the way, as of yesterday, there had been seven status updates and seven followers and that's not a knock against GC -- hell, they at least had the self-awareness to know that they needed help -- just a little background on the task at hand.

The easy thing to do might be to rush out and follow a list of 500 mommy bloggers. Or find a bunch of companies/people that auto-follow everyone back. That would certainly help with the optics around the follow/follower ratio. But would it do anything for the engagement level? Hardly. The first order of business was to reach out to a few of the seven followers and engage them in conversation (seeing some "@'s" in a company's Twitter stream is the second thing I look for after a decent follow/follower ratio).

Twelve hours later, the number of followers on her company's Twitter account had gone from seven to forty one. That may not seem like much in the grand scheme of things but now all of a sudden, her company has some content (a dozen new tweets) and a little groundswell (the new followers) at its back. Yes, they have a long way to go because realistically, they need to be closer to 4,000 or even 40,000 followers before they start to see some meaningful ROI. But as they say, Rome wasn't built in a day.

Image Credit: Wikipedia


  1. So you might not know this about me, but I'm a dance snob. So while I may generally agree with the bigger point in your post, I would argue that tango is a better analogy for social media marketing than the waltz. The biggest reason why lies in the nature of the dances themselves. They are both social dances but the waltz is prescribed and regimented, even though individuals are dancing we are all moving the same way around the dance floor thinking "1, 2, 3" in our heads. Tango on the other hand, is the epitome individual 1 to 1 interaction. We may all be out there dancing, but it is tailored to the individual and the song... there is no doubt that there is a conversation going on between the partners.

    I could go on and on, but you get the drift. In the end the true ROI driving goal of a well-managed facebook or twitter is getting influencers to go out and advocate on your behalf. Creating those singular moments where people believe the are truly interacting with your brand (or a person representing your brand)in non-regimented dialog is where social media shines.

  2. These days, it seems like everyone is in a rush to get things done. The problem with this approach in socmed is (as you rightly put it) "Rome wasn't built in a day." Socmed participation is a process, not a project. It takes time to develop.

    When I'm talking socmed with people and they seem to be getting frustrated with how long it takes for a good, interactive following to come about, I remind them (borrowing from Dave Ramsey) that we're using a crock pot and not a microwave.

    Your wife's company will benefit more in the long run for her efforts than if she had taken the shortcuts you describe. This is a good lesson for all of us.

  3. I agree with both comments and only add this to the metaphor: If SM engagement is a one to many version of the Tango, where each follower feels like they are the only partner being wooed- when you're doing it right, it looks good and attracts others to at least watch. When you do it REALLY well, those on the sidelines will WANT to step in and dance.

  4. @Sam - I didn't know that about you. Very cool. And this is why I love blogging because you just made me smarter. I knew my analogy wasn't perfect but I'm tired of the "sprint vs. marathon" saying. The good news (which you pointed out) is that we agree. While creating engagement and loyalty is methodical, it requires a tremendous amount of improvisation. Thanks for sharing your wisdom.

    @Elmer - love the "crock pot and not a microwave" comparison. I may have to steal that phrase for a future blog post title. ;)

    @Darin - yet another excellent point by you. You get the gold star of the week for best collective commenting on this blog. Thank you!

  5. I just became the community manager for oneforty, the Twitter app store and our Twitter account has roughly 8,000 followers. I'm actually not worried about the number. I think we were kind of lucky because have a well-known CEO's name to leverage so we get a lot of her fans that follow us. I'm more worried that I don't think we are engaging people enough (and my company family of overachievers agrees lol) Engagement is definitely priority #1 for me. Simply @replying people, thanking them when they add great content to our site, and trying to answer people's questions when they are asking for a Blackberry Twitter app that does this or a Twitter app that does that are the things I'm trying to do. I think the Twitter numbers will fall where they may.

    I'm proud of your wife's company for doing the right thing and not taking the easy way out. High follower numbers can definitely give a false sense of influence. Good for her.

    And if they are looking for any apps that might help build Rome...just ask. :P #shamelesspromo

  6. Janet - first of all, congrats. Laura Fitton is one of my favorite people in the whole world (ask her about her 12 hour Island Pond Road Rally adventures with me). I'm also a huge fan of oneforty.

    Now I won't comment on whether or not oneforty is engaging people enough or not because I haven't paid close enough attention to your twitter stream. However, I do believe that ANY company could afford to spend more time truly engaging their customers vs. just RT-ing, thanking or responding. Sounds like you're on your way to making that happen!

    As for my wife's company needing an apps to "help build Rome," you know that I'll be happy to send them your way. #ImOkayWithCoolPeopleDoingShamelessPromos