Get Online, Get Radical, Get Noticed

A company that wants to become noticed online must compete with a terrific amount of noise emanating from the digital marketing exploits of its competition. They’re trying desperately to leave their own footprint, only to see it get whisked away by a stampede.

Perhaps the best way to get found in this type of environment is to do…nothing. Simply disappear and create a blank space where something else used to be.

Earlier this month, the band Radiohead disappeared, at least as far as the group’s online presence was concerned. The group’s website faded to white and all of the content on its social media accounts (including the personal accounts of each band member) mysteriously vanished.

At the same time, the band sent out physical leaflets to a few select fans, purportedly to promote an upcoming album. Many of these fans took to the same Internet from whence Radiohead had since gone silent to report their surprise.

Not long after, Radiohead returned to the web in a big way. They released a new video for a song, stormed back onto social media, and dropped a new album.

But for a few days, the deafening silence had people on notice. They had no real clue what was going on, but they were talking about it. Radiohead had succeeded in building significant buzz for their upcoming record by going offline and saying nothing about it.

By saying nothing, the band said a lot.

It said a lot about what it takes to gain attention in today’s overcrowded digital world, where consumers are bombarded with thousands of tweets, posts, and news stories, not per day, mind you – in some cases, we’re talking hours. How does anybody – a band or company – get noticed in such a world?

It takes creativity, that’s for sure. Organizations with the desire to connect to online consumers (i.e., everyone) can ill afford to simply throw up a tweet or Facebook post and call it a success. Increasingly, they need to think outside the box and do things that are out of the ordinary. Radiohead took that to the extreme by effectively deleting its entire online presence – a radical step that paid dividends for the band, as it garnered a lot of media coveragesocial media attention, and massive sales.

I’m not suggesting that any of our clients do this, of course. What I am suggesting is that companies need to do more than just come up with a great website or social media plan. Yes, it’s wonderful to blog and tweet on a consistent basis, but those things are now table stakes. They’re like brushing your teeth or getting a good night’s sleep. They’re things you should be doing anyway.

Taking steps that go beyond those basics will help your organization rise above the online fray. Host a Twitter contest to gain followers and recognize your valued customers. Begin using platforms that some of your competitors may not have taken advantage of yet, such as Instagram. Try experimenting with virtual reality. Become a LinkedIn blogger. Go boldly where your competition has never gone before in order to stand out from the pack.

These don’t have to be radical changes (and, by all means, make sure you’re doing the basics first). You don’t have to get all white space on everyone, like Radiohead did.

But you should also avoid getting complacent. Your online efforts should feed on the same boldness and energy that goes into the other phases of your marketing program. It’ll take work – and guts – but it could pay off nicely in a world where it’s so very hard to get noticed.