By Jim McCarthy Apr 27, 2012 0 comments

Four Ways to Win the Mindshare Battle against Social Media

In the entire decade and a half I’ve been working in the Internet/WWW/Interactive biz, some people have speculated that all this crazy new technology is making everyone into hermits and shut-ins.  You’ve heard the stories, and certainly some of them are true, though this article that I stumbled across today refutes and counters the line of thinking.

Sure, that’s fine.  You can take whatever side you want in that debate.  It’s complicated enough to believe what you like.

Here’s what I believe firmly: we’ve never before had the option to do as little to provide ourselves with at least a modicum of entertainment or diversion.

For example, “checking Facebook” isn’t really all that much fun, at least not typically when you don’t get into a spontaneous chat with Sean Connery, who happens to be Facebook friends with your dad’s business partner.  Sure, that kind of thing could happen, but typically, you look down a list of rather prosaic postings by your (however much you love them) rather prosaic friends.  It’s mildly informative, perhaps passingly entertaining.  It’s fine.  It’s better, perhaps, than staring at a blank wall.

In fact, let’s say it’s worth 5 Entertainment Points, where an evening of a great live show or game is worth a thousand.  You could sit on Facebook all night and never get past 50 points, because the next “Facebook check” is even less entertaining.

So why do people do it?

Because it costs even fewer Effort Points.  Maybe it costs 1 Effort Point to check Facebook each time.  That’s practically nothing.  Shifting in your chair and breathing doesn’t require much less effort than looking at Facebook.  Farmville really isn’t that much fun.  It’s just that it’s practically effortless to do.

On the other hand, doing something more rewarding takes a lot more effort.  Sure, that concert, game or play might be worth 1000 Entertainment Points, but it’s also requires Effort Points (and money and time) that make the trade off less favorable.  Inertia rules, and that’s human nature.

So what can we do about this?  If people naturally would prefer to spend a little and get a little than to spend a lot and get a lot, isn’t this a problem for anyone who isn’t selling instant, ubiquitous, short-lived, fairly mundane forms of diversion?

Well, only if you let it be.  Here’s what you’ve got to remember:

1.  Counterprogram.  Sure, people are drawn to the superficial stuff, but they also (most of them anyway) crave the deeper stuff.  If you’re selling live entertainment, make sure they know that when they’re ready to do something more interesting, you’re there.  For that matter, make them feel smart and superior compared to the people who are stuck in the superficial (without being negative).

2. Respect the cost. It’s not enough to say ‘seeing our thing live is an amazing experience.’ You have to respect that while that’s true, it comes at a cost in Effort Points and other things, like time and money.  Can you ameliorate that cost?  Or at least dispel myths about it?  Probably.  At very least, you can develop an understanding of the “costs” of doing your better thing and respect your patrons accordingly.

3. Emphasize the upside. If you’re asking for a lot of Effort Points, go all out to show them how it’s going to be worth it.  Don’t be complacent and assume that the ‘amazing experience’ you offer is understood or fully understood by your buyers.  Show them, show them, show them what’s so great about it, and then when it seems like you’ve said it all the ways you can and made it as interesting as you can, figure out a few new ways to do it.

4.  Occupy their superficial stuff. Here’s another way to think about the imperative of using social media well: if social media is really a competing form of “entertainment,” you  want to get as much mental shelf space in your desired patrons social media as you possibly can.  Own them in the superficial, and you increase the probability of owning them in the good stuff.  Heck, just go ahead and own them in both.

So inertia is as old as time itself, and social media has made it easier to do even less than before while still avoiding total boredom.  That’s ok, though, because live entertainment still has the ultimate trump card: it’s the most fun.

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