If you are in Tech, there is no way to escape running into Robert Scoble who is constantly evangelizing cutting edge startups on social media. Scoble and his activities are sponsored by Rackspace – an internet giant.
I could not help but wonder if Rackspace is doing the right thing sponsoring Scoble.
On one hand
Robert is doing a heck of a job on social media and is gaining enormous visibility for Rackspace within the startup world.
on the other hand
how exactly is all this helping promote Rackspace?
Don’t get me wrong… I am a big fan of robert and admire his skills but I have no idea what makes Rackspace better than amazon AWS (cheap), Google cloud (Expensive) or Microsoft services (seriously?). I mean, after all the engagement I have had interacting with robert online I still have no real clue about what exactly is it that Rackspace does better!
I could not make up my mind about this question but then I realized the ultimate proof of Robert’s success….
I am writing about Rackspace right now!
Touche. Robert, you win!
My sources at Rackspace say they get questions about Scoble all the time. Scoble costs them a lot of money and his performance is not quite measurable. The decision to hire him was also an innovative and risky move that counters the intuition of many online marketers.
Rob La Gesse, The man who hired Scoble went so far as publicly defending his decision:
The basic truth though is that I don’t have any metrics to show how/why this was a good deal for Rackspace – just as I had no business plan to show what value he would add. But it just “feels right” – and sometimes you have to trust your gut. And after 5+ years I am still very glad I trusted my gut, and that my leadership trusted me.
Hillel Fuld, CMO of Zula is clearly following the Scoble model himself. While most of us have already declared that “Social is dead”, Hillel says that social has never been so strong. But he also uses social in ways that many don’t.
Marketing is a long term investment. You can’t calculate ROI by checking how many leads you generated this month. It’s far more than just that.
So what is going on here?
Can one market a brand by simply creating awareness to one’s social activity? The answer seems to be a definite yes – at least on a certain level. Every company needs a to tell a story and companies like Rackspace do not have an organically appealing story to tell, so they need to hire people like Scoble to spice things up a bit for them.
People respond to stories. A good story makes a brand personable and it gives people material to share with others. If you are lucky, you can create a great story that is directly linked to your product. But even when it’s not directly related, a good story sticks, and if there is one thing that Robert can do is be a great story to follow on social media.