Centricity Blog

What I Learned From This Pickle

Posted March 30, 2010 by in Marketing

A while ago I received a Facebook invitation to join the group ” Can this pickle get more friends than Nickelback.”  Boy,  it make me laugh. Great idea. But as my inquisitive mind spun I was wondering what would happen. As I watched the numbers increase and increase I was wondering where it would stop. Now at over 1.5 million fans it has gone beyond a joke to an interesting case study.

So this pickle now has more friends than Nickelback. So! What does that tell us? I have thought about this for a while and come up with a few points…

1)    People will join against someone as much as for someone -

People are not “for the pickle” as much against Nickelback. This is politics one-o-one. People are as passionate against as they are for. Statistics show that people vote as much against someone as for someone. What does that mean to artists? It tells me that you should make sure you super serve your fan base. Make sure you connect and communicate. If there is an issue deal with it.

There is a new application that is launching called Sticky Bits. The whole premise is someone can scan the bar code on a product, lets say a CD, and read what has been said about that product on Twitter, Facebook, etc. That is the power of the consumer right there. What are they going to say about you?

I worked with an artist where we did a promotion that promised the winner a personalized prize along with tickets to a show etc. Well, we never could get that prize from the artist. Soon the winner said she didn’t even want the tickets to the show. Not only did this band miss the opportunity to develop a super fan but they lost a fan. Now the winner has the opportunity to start the fan page “This gherkin is nicer than_____”. And there is a good story to prove it.

Moral of the story – do everything you can to NOT give people a reason to vote against you.

2)    Friends are valuable but not that the end all –

The pickle has over 1.5 million fans. So what. Will all those fans run out to buy his next hit single on iTunes? Will people run out to the next movie staring said pickle? Are there people out there excited about being fans of the pickle? No. The pickle’s friends have little value because they cannot be motivated.

John Mayer has 3,171,846 followers on Twitter (oh, how we all wish we could have that many followers) but his record has only scanned 871,118 units. That means only 27% of his followers are fans. And he tweets a LOT. It is not just about activity it is about connectivity.

A recent article in the NY Times states “A group of researchers have proven something we already expected to be the case: your Twitter follower count is somewhat of a meaningless metric when it comes to determining influence.”

Couldn’t have said it better myself.

Which brings me to my final observation

3)    It all comes down to influence

No one cares about what the pickle has to say. The pickle’s friends are not looking at the inbox to see if they received the latest communication from the pickle. But fans are waiting to hear from their favorite artist. You have the opportunity to build a bridge to your fans, to have connectivity. You can have influence.

When you have influence you can motivate, you can move fans.

So, how do you build influence? Where do you go to start? There is a blog about that on Going Social Now that gives five points to building influence. The first is “participate where your customers want to participate and be active in the customer communities you create. Remember that your customers are your equals.” Good starting place.

There is a great blog from Dave Kusek (the guy who wrote “The Future of Music”) where he says “One of the greatest advances in music marketing and promotion is your ability to go directly to your fans and engage with them in information exchange and commerce.”

Question. Are you going directly to your fans and engaging them directly? Or are you being a pickle amassing friends who won’t respond to you?

So don’t be a pickle. Go ahead and start connecting with your fans. Super serve them, love them and they will love you back. And tell others about you.

About The Author: Steve Ford

Steve Ford started as an engineer at LA's famed Mama Jo's studio before crossing over to the dark side: marketing. After a stint in artist development and A&R at Sparrow working with Steven Curtis Chapman, BeBe & CeCe Winans, and Out of the Gray, Ford moved onto Star Song and later Myrrh, marketing records by Newsboys, Fernando Ortega, and Amy Grant. He served as general manager at inpop records, signing Superchic(k) and Shane & Shane; he started INO's rock imprint SRE, where he worked with Skillet, Flyleaf, Disciple, and Decypher Down. At Centricity, Ford oversees all aspects of sales and marketing, including radio, packaging, and hair product endorsements. Ford lists racquetball and "books" as his hobbies, which occupy what free time isn't spent discovering obscuro new music.

  1. Jonathan Davis said

    Good word Steve. I’ve been thinking a lot about all the things you said lately. When I first signed up for Twitter I tried to get as many followers as possible, only to realize that VERY few of them cared what I said. Many of them were only friends with me in order to promote themselves or their product. Technology is a useful tool at times, but the longer I do music the more I realize how overrated it is compared to the importance of relationships. The learning curve for the music industry seems steep at times. I’ve definitely failed more than I’ve succeeded.

    Thanks for the helpful tips!
    Jonathan

  2. Steve Ford said

    Thanks for the encouragement Jonathan . Know that everyone in music has failed more than they succeeded. It is what you learn from those failures that brings wisdom.

    Seth Godin had a great post regarding online friends:

    Real world friends are hard to find and hard to change.

    But virtual friends?

    If your online friends aren’t egging you on…

    If your online friends don’t spread the word about the work you’re doing…

    If your online friends aren’t respectfully challenging your deeply held beliefs…

    If your online friends don’t demand the best from you…

    Then perhaps you need new online friends.

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