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Leverage is good physics. Social leverage is good business.

By Chuck Sink When we wanted to get the word out fast without spending a fortune and get lots of people to respond, we first needed to connect with the influencers of an audience larger than we could reach ourselves. And of course, there had to be something in it for everybody. That something could be as simple as a common emotional connection or a favorite discussion topic. An often overlooked factor in marketing and public relations is finding the way to viral ignition. What’s in it for the influencers? Answer that question. When you can reach enough influencers and persuade them to advocate or repeat a message, the time is here when social media can deliver the message to enough people in your target audience that it’s possible to save thousands, possibly even millions in broadcast, print and other traditional media dollars. Traditional paid media can always add more fuel to your campaigns and we often recommend that strategic buys be part of an integrated communications plan but finding and harnessing the right marketplace leverage is sometimes enough. Occasionally, products seem to go viral by themselves but they usually need a social media push. Email and YouTube made it possible for an obscure, very expensive US made blender to grow 700 percent in sales in two years. Blendtec reached millions of consumers in 2006 by throwing a few campy videos up on the Web. People spread them like wildfire – mostly with email! You can view them on the company website set up for the videos. What’s in it for the viewer? – Just a little entertainment and maybe a laugh. But seriously, many people went out and spent $400.00 for the home model after watching those videos – a hefty price for a consumer blender! Sales grew from around $6 million in 2005 to over $40 million in 2007 without a dime spent on advertising. That’s the power of consumer-to-consumer influence. Now with social media use even more common than blenders themselves, the opportunities to let the public, through leveraged organizational leaders and influencers, spread your message like wildfire are tremendous. wedü demonstrated this phenomenon recently by increasing awareness of the fight against breast cancer – across the Internet. Bras Across the Internet, the Facebook Page and Facebook App was launched to show organizations that it doesn’t always take huge advertising budgets to reach a global audience and simultaneously support a great cause. A secondary objective was to test and fine tune our methods of launch, publicity and outreach and to identify the ‘right formula’ to be applied to future social media campaigns. Our own staff reached out on Facebook to friends, family and associates, of course, but we needed to reach bigger numbers so we enlisted support from the fighters for the cause as well as leaders in the medical community. We realized that their influence among larger numbers of like-minded people – those profoundly affected by breast cancer – would reach and move legions to act. By posting symbolic bras or t-shirts to their Facebook walls to show their support for breast cancer awareness, they encouraged associates, friends & family to do the same. Key to the strategy was contacting the most influential social media users in the breast cancer awareness community. We pitched them on posting a bra on their Facebook walls and tweeting about it while sharing the link. Wow, did it work! Results: In the first four days after the official launch, the application garnered 150,000 users. Applying an average of 300 friends per Facebook user, up to 45 million people had our application show up in their news feed in less than a week! During October (Breast Cancer Awareness Month) over 350,000 people used the app! Multiplied by the number of their friends seeing the post in newsfeeds, the total impressions numbers are staggering! Bras Across the Internet is still live and the benefits it has provided the Breast Cancer Awareness community are sure to have lasting impact. If you want to spread your own message like wildfire, first know your audience. Secondly, make sure there’s something valuable in it for them. Finally, form good relationships with the top influencers of that audience and ignite their passion to spread the word by showing what’s in it for them too. Connect emotionally with the movers and shakers of your community in a well organized way and watch what happens! Chuck Sink is a Business Development Associate at wedü. Follow him on Twitter:@chucksink
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