Why I’m Competing With You. And You. And You. And You.

Social media changes the very fabric of corporate competition.

It used to be that your competitors were the people that sold similar goods and services, or operated in the same geographical area. No more.

Now, you’re competing with Coke. With McDonald’s. With Chevy. And Zappos. And Jet Blue. And every other company on the planet.

This is because consumer interactions with companies are jumbled together like a real-time gumbo. Your status update is located in-between updates from other company’s “liked” by that consumer – not to mention updates from friends and family. The same is true on Twitter, where your tweets are sandwiched between Bieber musings, Breaking News, and God knows what else.

The email inbox is also a battleground, with your special offer competing through the attention aperture (as Brian Solis calls it) with Nigerian Prince scams, Amazon recommendations, and Linkedin “don’t forget to connect with this guy” nudges.
The Social Break-Up
The reality is that the social and email behaviors, restraint, and adherence (or lack thereof) to best practices on the part of EVERY OTHER COMPANY IN THE WORLD impacts YOUR success.

This concept was brought into sharp focus for me recently by the new “Social Break-Up” research from ExactTarget and CoTweet (clients) that examined why consumer stop engaging with brands in email, Facebook, and Twitter.

Your Success Breeds My Success. And Vice-Versa

Here are the findings that really prove this point:

  • 47% of people have unsubscribed from emails because they were receiving too many emails, and needed to get off some lists. (3rd most common reason)
  • 43% of people have unliked a brand on Facebook because their wall was becoming too crowded with marketing messages and they needed to get rid of some (2nd most common reason)
  • 41% of people have unfollowed a brand on Twitter because their stream was becoming too crowded with marketing posts and they needed toget rid of some (2nd most common reason)

Wow. Regardless of platform, receiving too many messages from too many marketers is a very likely cause of subsequent break-ups, throwing dead weight over the side of the social and email ship until it floats again.

Consequently, if all the other companies that the consumer follows are seduced by the siren song of oversending and overcasting, it has a material impact on my success.

Consumers only have so much attention to spare. After all, they have jobs to do and families to raise and dinner to cook and T-ball to coach and watercolors to paint – just like us marketers.

So let’s think about whether that next email, tweet, or status update is really growing your relationship with your customer, or is just pointless and banal, clogging up the stream and chucking the rest of us under the bus.

For all of our sakes, will you give it a try?

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