In Social Media, Being First Is Often Key to Success
We recently did the first-ever sponsored Tweet-a-thon for one of our clients, NCM Fathom Events, and their event A Powerful Noise. It was the first time just sending a tweet generated a donation from a third party, and it went extremely well, with more than 2,800 Tweets rolling out in 4 days.
Since then, there have been several cases where we’d like to do the same thing again. But we haven’t, because in all likelihood it would not be as successful as the first. Why? At this point in social media marketing’s life, roughly half the blog chatter is about what you’re doing, while half is about the fact that you’re doing something new.
Case in Point: Twittering Live Surgeries
Here’s an example that illustrates the point. In February, Henry Ford Health System in Detroit decided to live tweet one of their surgeries. It was a first, and it generated a lot of excitement in the blogosphere, on Twitter and in the news. @henryfordnews on Twitter so an explosion in followers. Overnight, they went from 491 followers to 999 followers overnight and to 1,133 followers in 3 days. Today, less than 2 months later, they have 2,032 followers.
A little more than a month later, the folks at Sherman Health in Chicago copied the idea. Their Twitter stream makes it clear that they promoted it heavily to local media (a smart idea, since in-town media love to localize stories about national trends like Twitter), and they saw an increase of 286 new followers within 3 days. They started at 799 followers and grew to 1,085 followers 3 days later. So, despite a bigger base, they got less traction. Why? The idea had been done before–the Twitterati didn’t get excited about it.
- Henry Ford, going first, saw 130.75% lift in Twitter followers in 3 days.
- Sherman Health, going second, saw only 35.8% lift in Twitter followers in 3 days.
- In other words, the first mover did 3.65x better than the second.
First mover advantage is well-established in all kinds of marketing. But with advertising and public relations, it’s what’s IN your ad or press release that gets you noticed. In social media marketing it’s also HOW you do things that get you noticed.
Those who are clever and get it right, like Henry Ford, benefit the most. Those who copy, like Sherman Health, may benefit, but they won’t see the same level of ROI as the leader. Our clients periodically ask, “Can you show me the results of someone who has done this before?” It’s not a bad question in marketing generally, and it’s still not a bad question. Just understanding that, at least at times, it’s much better to be first is the key.
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