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The Power of the Red Dot

Posted by Randy Hlavac on January 30, 2014

Recently, I was talking with Jeff Davidoff, CMO of ONE.org, about social marketing. Jeff is a marketing guru of mine and has created some of the best social marketing programs ever invented (check out Agit8 to see his work). Jeff is a frequent guest of my graduate social marketing classes at Northwestern University and I talk with him to keep current on the newest trends in social marketing.

In a recent conversation, he asked me, “What is it that has made LinkedIn such a powerhouse social networking site?” Jeff had just talked to Reid Hoffman, the founder of LinkedIn, who told him that much of LinkedIn’s success is the “Power of the Red Dot.” His story is something every CEO, CMO and marketing manager needs to consider in developing their social strategy.

If you are a member of LinkedIn, you are on the best social networking site. However, on most days, you are probably not actively on it. In fact, it is easy to forget you are a LinkedIn member. So how does LinkedIn keep you active? The Power of the Red Dot. Nearly every day, LinkedIn sends you notifications. It notifies you if someone wants you to join their network. It notifies you if someone has given you expert recommendations. It notifies you if a group is posting new topics. Each time something happens, it lets you know.


So what happens when there is a notification? It generates red dots on your mobile phone and tablets. The red dots tell you that you have emails and messages that you need to address. In other words, the red dot PULLS you into the actions LinkedIn needs to keep you active. Then when you log into your LinkedIn account, what happens? For most, it tells you to update your profile. Why? Because LinkedIn gets you to perform the key behaviors—clicking, reviewing, recommending, participating—that it needs for the success of its system. The red dot moves you to actions that are beneficial to you AND to LinkedIn. Red Dots mean action. Red dots tell you there is something you need to see and do.

What does this mean for your company?
While LinkedIn has taken red dots to a high level of engagement, the same thing happens when you post something on a social networking site like Facebook. Your new post generates a red dot for each one of the individuals who are following your site. When they see it on their Facebook icon, they often click on it—and if it is relevant, timely content for them—they appreciate it. If it is really great, they will tell others and it will go viral.

The key is to understand that social is really a 2-way conversation. Even though you don’t know your social visitors by name and it is an anonymous relationship, your activities do generate red dots and activity. The key is to make that content really relevant to your followers. Not to do so will make them resistant to your “future dots.”

Taking it to the next level

Now take a look at the social marketing strategy used by Jacobs & Clevenger. It is one of three social marketing strategies I teach at Northwestern and use in my consulting company. This strategy uses relevant, compelling content to attract prospects from different social sites. However, to get the content, you must complete a registration form. The data you provide is then used to determine your persona and identify the types of content each individual might want in the future. In addition, a cookie is placed on the computer to monitor the individual’s activities on your website and social sites.

In the nurture process, what happens? Emails and other communications are sent to the prospect to encourage them to take the next step toward eventual purchase. In other words, it generates one or more Red Dots on their networked phones. It not only provides them relevant information but it encourages them to click to find out what they are missing.

So, how can this benefit your organization?
When you consider your social marketing programs, here are 3 action items to consider:

1. Social is really a 2-way conversation—Your social program should be considered a 2-way conversation. When you add content, it prompts your followers (and their friends) to re-engage with your social site through the red dot. The more relevant the content you develop, the better.
2. Keep active once you start—Your social followers want to engage with you. Give them new articles, videos, insights and information they can really use. Remember, each time you post it, your new content will create new red dots to re-engage them with your organization. Success comes to those who maintain the relationship with new, timely and relevant content.
3. Keep it timely and relevant—Develop a content strategy that really communicates with the people you want to develop a relationship with in the future. They are actively looking for experts, so give them the insights and information that will improve their professional lives. Do that and your “dots” will be relevant to your high-value followers.

What Jeff Davidoff and Reid Hoffman taught me is to think of social interaction as a two-way dialogue between your company and your prospects. After these interactions, it is easy for the prospect to quickly forget about you. It is vital for you to PUSH content to them by either publishing on your social sites or sending them an email. It produces a red dot that moves them to action. Remember the Power of the Red Dot and use it to the benefit of your organization and your social visitors. It’s a win-win situation.

And now for a special free offer
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The MOOC is a 6-session course you can take at your own speed and time. Each session is separated into short, highly informational modules you can view. Most modules contain free tools and information you can immediately use to develop your company’s content strategy. 



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Topics: CMO

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