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[Review] The Impact Equation


How do you create waves in a world filled with zillions of blogs, Facebook updates, and tweets? Why do some campaigns fly while others die?

If you’re clueless about the answer, consider reading “The Impact Equation: Are You Making Things Happen or Just Making Noise?“. Authored by social media savants Chris Brogan and Julien Smith, the book on content marketing reveals how you can generate attention, affection and action amongst the people you care about. Namely, your customers and other stakeholders.

Laced liberally with new economy examples such as Skylanders (from Activision), Instagram, DollarShaveClub.com, Dolbeau, and Rachel Hawkins (a chick flick author), “The Impact Equation” leverages on the authors’ experiences as purveyors of podcasts, blogs, and all things social. At its core, the book focuses on a quasi-mathematical formula/acronym which goes like this:

Impact = C x (R + E + A + T + E)

The first component Contrast (C) can be understood as the differentiation, positioning and unique value proposition of the idea. In an attention-deficit economy, the only brands which stand out are those that offer something remarkable – a Purple Cow in a sea of “me-too” products and services. Concepts embodied in “Blue Ocean Strategy” and “The Lean Startup” could be used to develop pioneering ideas that can rock markets eg McCafe by McDonald’s which is giving Starbucks a run for its caffeine-laced bucks.

Next, we have Reach (R) – the most number of people you can connect with. This is what most social media marketers focus on, and can be calculated by the number of followers, RSS readers, “likes” on Facebook, and so on. Naturally, the higher the better. However, numbers alone isn’t enough, and this brings us to our next attribute.

Exposure (E) talks about how often you truly connect to your network. The trick is to hit people again and again until they take positive action – not delete your email/invitations/you from their lives! To prevent over-saturation, seek to understand what your audiences truly want and customise your content for each channel. Done correctly, the right form of exposure leads to stronger engagement.

Articulation (A) is all about crafting content that sizzles – not fizzle. Brevity is an advantage. So is simplicity in writing. Tools such as mind maps can be useful in building a visual representation of your ideas. One should also identify kindred spirits (people more likely to identify with a message), combine emotion with information, and use the “being the X of Y” method (eg Paris of the East) to effectively convey ideas.

Trust (T) is probably the most important dimension (after Contrast). In fact, it has its own equation adapted from “The Trusted Advisor“:

C * R * I / S = TRUST where
C = Credibility
R = Reliability
I = Intimacy
S = Self-interest

Credibility means what you say is backed by your CV and experience, while reliability is seen in how you deliver what you promise. Intimacy is reflected in the closeness of your relationships and how likeable you are while self-interest acts as a force divider. In other words, the more self-oriented/ selfish you are, the less trust you’re likely to get (ie seek to give rather than receive).

Finally, Echo (E) is about generating resonance amongst your followers. Here, we should use the language of our network, find common ground and share our feelings. Being friendly and responsive to fans also helps. Messages should be whittled down to their core essences and enriched with emotional language and relevant examples.

Last but certainly not least, one should also learn how to manage criticisms. Rather than delete all negative comments (a big “no-no” in social media), one could respond to negative feedback and find a way to address genuine concerns. Having said that, trolls who are adamant on damaging one’s reputation should be decisively dealt with.

Admittedly, “The Impact Equation” is more anecdotal than analytical. Several of its ideas are borrowed from the world of pop marketing culture, while others are rather commonsensical. Having said that, the beauty of having an easily remembered equation is that it tends to stick more easily to one’s cranium in an “over-saturated” marketplace of ideas.

In summary, The Impact Equation provides a useful guide to how content can be created – and curated – to generate the greatest impact. Laced with examples from the world of content marketing, it teaches us how to raise our ante in the relentless battle for attention. The book is a gem if you’re clueless about how you can make a difference with your content.


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