Trent Reznor who fronts the band Nine Inch Nails, showed how powerful social media can be. Using Twitter and an iPhone app, Reznor showed the power of an authentic social media engagement. What happened at a recent concert transcends the run of the mill Facebook or Twitter response.
What we saw is how a very simple act has value that can’t be calculated. Too often, those of us in the business of social media are confronted by the question of ROI. The main reason we have a problem defining ROI in social media is because we try to compare it to traditional advertising.
What you’re about to read is something that’s so easy to do on social, yet no commercial ever filmed can possibly do.
At a recent concert, from the stage, in front of an arena full of fans, Reznor used Facetime to call a long time fan of the band who is dying of cancer. It was amazing for a number of reasons.
One reason is that Reznor stopped his show and gave us a snapshot of the transformative nature of social media and how we can touch people anywhere in the world with a simple random act of kindness and thought.
The bigger impact of his gesture is the memory that he gave Andrew Youssef. A man who is living knowing that his death is just a few weeks away.
Photojournalist Andrew Youssef has been chronicling his end of days and writes a column called the “Last Shot“. It was in reading Youssef’s column that Reznor found out about the terminally ill writer and his love for Nine Inch Nails.
Reznor happened to see the story and reached out to Youssef on Twitter, inviting him to a show in Los Angeles, as well as the band’s rehearsals; they even grabbed lunch together a few times. Back at the end of September, Youssef was given “weeks to months to live,” he wrote in a column reflecting on listening to songs including “In This Twilight.” ”
Throughout my diagnosis, the meaning of a lot of the songs I like has changed drastically. This particular song resonates with me during the lyrics ‘As the time is running out / Let me take away your doubt / We can find a better place / In this twilight.'”
So during a performance of “In The Twilight”, Reznor took to Facetime…
This is what many brands don’t get. Social media can change people’s lives. You can’t calculate that ROI. Ask Andrew what it meant to him to be called from the stage in front of thousands of people and hear his name chanted out loud. Do you think he smiled? Do you think he cried? Do you think it made him feel a little bit better despite the fact that he’s dying? Do you think 20,000 people are even more endeared to Reznor and Nine Inch Nails?
The answer is quite obvious.
Could your commercial do that?
That’s why I’m looking to focus more and more on sports and entertainment. I believe that until more brands understand the true power of authentic, human engagement on social media and the importance of the value exchange between the brand and their audience, we’ll continue to get the obnoxiously ignorant ROI question.