Social media and the big scale question
Scale is a very important concept in social media and I think there are three reasons for this.
- We are all inclined to define the value of scale in terms of reach and frequency, because this is how we defined value in traditional media. However, social media doesn’t deliver reach or frequency very effectively.
- There is the question of scale as a unit of measurement of this thing we call engagement. The problem is that almost any form of traditional, marketing activity can never register at the social end of the engagement scale.
- The social media revolution leaches scale from the business models of every industry it touches and completely changes the scale dynamics (in essence, big stops being beautiful – certainly in a marketing or product design context) – and this is the main long-term challenge all businesses need to address.
Scale is not achieved through reach and frequency
Measurement and metrics in traditional marketing were all about reach and frequency. This was because marketing was defined as a channel and message challenge and the channels were expensive – thus requiring that they ‘reach’ a large number of people to make them cost-effective to use. Thus media came with an audience already built into it, and that is effectively what we were buying when we bought, or gained access to, media – we were acquiring scale. A great deal of time and effort was spent devising creative messages (content) and campaigns and we gave these scale by putting them into media channels.
Social media doesn’t have scale built into it: it doesn’t come with an audience attached. Continue reading