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If you haven’t heard of the British band The xx (no, that’s not a typo), you’re probably not an Instagram-loving, Twitter-addicted millennial. But pay attention if you want to learn a thing or two about digital marketing, says Jason Rosenblum, a professor at St. Edward’s University who has taught in the MBA program: The xx are masters of social media, developing just the right formula for connecting with current and potential fans in the age of content marketing.

The big mistake most marketers make in the digital sphere is narcissism, says Rosenblum. They post press releases, talk about product launches, and tweet news about The Company. It’s like going to a cocktail party and having someone talk your ear off about his new widget business without stopping for a second to ask about you and your interests. It’s 100-percent sales driven — and it’s not effective.

Early on, The xx followed a principle in social media called the 70-20-10 rule, Rosenblum says:

  • 70 percent of the content posted by the band was related to the band or to its music but wasn’t sales-oriented. A snapshot in a sound studio or a shout-out to fans helped promote the brand, but wasn’t explicitly geared toward boosting ticket or album sales.
  • 20 percent of the content was shared by or with other artists. The xx posted links to warm-up bands and events at venues they’d previously played. The spotlight was trained on collaborators and colleagues.
  • 10 percent of the content was aimed at promoting album releases, concert-ticket sales and more. Here, finally, is that famed call to action: See the show. Buy the album.

What surprises most business leaders about that formula, Rosenblum says, is that only a sliver of the content is focused on actual sales. But following the 70-20-10 rule has meant big success for The xx. Fans are engaged and primed to buy — rather than driven away with a promotional drumbeat. When The xx is ready to release a new album, its loyal fan base is just a click away.

The MBA program at St. Edward’s University builds highly sought-after skills in entrepreneurial thinking, social enterprise, innovation, global collaboration and business analytics — the areas business leaders need in today’s business world.

Joel Hoekstra is a freelance writer.

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