Participation isn’t enough.
Having a more clear-sighted view on people’s real world buying behaviours and thus which consumers actually matter to the generation of revenue and profit begins to gives us a framework for thinking about participation.
Recognizing that brands aren’t simply built upon exclusive loyalty but are highly dependent on vast numbers of light, polygamous buyers – and that growth comes from acquiring more of them, not increasingly the loyalty of current buyers – puts the role of the ‘fan’ into proper perspective.
The people LEAST likely to engage deeply are the MOST important for growth.
There is a way out of this paradox. But it requires us to embrace two principles:
1) Battle for interest, not attention
2)Fans are actors, not the audience
Advertising is most successful when it seeks to increase penetration, not loyalty.
The importance of occasional buyers who don’t buy you often and aren’t devoted to you is further underlined when you look at which consumers matter most to brand growth.
To grow, you need to recruit lots more new users who buy you just occasionally.
The purpose of marketing is not merely to secure the attention, participation and purchases of the fans alone.
Brands depend on retaining and attracting legions of buyers who don’t know our brand well, and don’t buy it very often.
It’s well known that when it comes to people’s digital behaviours, not everyone wants to participate. And that not everyone wants to participate equally.
The theory of Participation Inequality states that in most online communities:
90% are lurkers who never contribute
9% contribute a little
1% account for almost all the action
People’s relationship with your brand affects their likelihood to notice communications from your brand.
Most people aren’t exclusively loyal.
Most people aren’t devoted to a single brand and are very happy to buy regularly from a range of brands.
They have their loyalties. But they are polygamously loyal.
And this is reflected in buying patterns – brands share their customers with other brands, and they do so roughly in line with their market shares.
Most people don’t know your brand very well.
Half of all brand knowledge is concentrated amongst 20% of buyers and the remainder is spread thinly across the remaining 80% of buyers.
So it emerges that a few people know a lot about your brand. And a great many more people know something about your brand.
Technology allows for participation and interaction.
It thus follows that creative ideas that wish to leverage technology must find ways of offering participation and interaction.
Cue the rise of the participative idea.
Producing crap takes just as much time and effort as producing stuff that’s good or better.