Some people think that social media is all hype. "Show me the money", they say. OK ... how about a stock price that has been steadily rising against the market since mid-2006? [and yes, of course it has suffered in the meltdown, but not to same extent as others].
What has Nike (NKE) done different in that time? Two years ago, it launched Nike+. Essentially, this is a sensor-based technology that stores data via a 2G+ iPod on your exercise, reports back a variety of facts and figures, and can upload the data to a social network website. Millions of people have joined this network - and Nike has created an army of loyal advocates. As an example of the power of that army, more than 800,000 people joined the Human Race on 31 August in 25 places around the world.
The members of the Nike+ community are on track (at more than 1 mile/sec, or faster than any F1 racer) to record 100,000,000 collective miles. Net Advocacy Scores are skyrocketing. Sales of accessories are growing faster than many ever imagined.
While the direct correlation is hard to prove, Nike has grown US market share of running shoes from 48% in 2006 to more than 60% today. Are you prepared to say there's no connection? Not me!
Many consumer goods companies (and others like General Motors!) have tried to use social media to build brand advocacy. The results have been tragic, or so faintly positive that the ROI didn't prove out.
So what's different about Nike's approach? For a start, the community is not built around a brand or product - it's built specifically for a bunch of people with a passion for running. You can put the Nike+ sensor in another company's shoes and still share the buzz. Translation: It's not a marketing campaign. It's shared experiences that inspire people. Nike+ provides the engine for a social activity.
Thought for the Day: If you focus on the people rather than the brand, chances are you may get the chance to ride the tiger of passion!