At the moment of writing in 2018, Rumag has 816,000 followers on Instagram, almost 700,000 on Facebook and 16,000 on YouTube. Kakhiel amassed more than 344,000 fans on Facebook, 151,000 on Twitter and 405,000 on Instagram. Both are still growing every day. Quick estimations show that the digital assets of each ecosystem rapidly amount to 4 or 5 million euros. What can directors of other organisations learn from Kakhiel and Rumag?
Content ensures relationships
Kakhiel and Rumag have both enjoyed massive online success. One with playful cartoons, the other with recognisable and funny texts. But Kakhiel and Rumag represent something much larger. They illustrate the relationship economy, where the relationship with potential fans or customers has become the most important indication of operating capital. Kakhiel and Rumag also disrupt the traditional business model: they first developed a fanbase and subsequently devised a revenue model. The revenue being as traditional as fanwear can get: consider shirts, books and bags, featuring Kakhiel or Rumag texts.
Companies are able to make (even) better contact with (potential) customers thanks to technology. These customers enter relationships with companies (for example, by following them on Facebook) or communicating with them via one of their channels (for example, e-mail or bots). Organisations must meet the needs of customers by sharing content with them and expanding the relationship. The relationship with the customer has therefore become the most important economic capital of companies. Kakhiel and Rumag understand the needs of their followers like no one else, establishing that valuable connection with their followers.
At the moment of writing, Rumag has a gigantic reach: more than 816,000 followers on Instagram and another 700,000 followers on Facebook. Rumag amassed this reach with texts which are funny, recognisable, sexually oriented, crude or a combination of all these things. The platform started as a blog, but the texts were shortened to quotes and placed on Facebook. This turned out to be a great success. The recognisable style (black and white lay-out, with full stops between every word) became their recognisable branding in a rather short period of time; Rumag has become a permanent fixture in our timelines. The thousands of likes on posts on Facebook and Instagram show that there is a well-maintained relationship with the fans — and they simply make excellent content which genuinely resonates with people.
“The only problem: 35,000 likes are great, but does not bring any money in”, newspaper Het Parool summarises Rumag’s problem. Despite this, Rumag was able to monetise their online fanbase over time. “As a company, Rumag has had a rather unique approach; they first mobilised a following and then focused their attention on the product. That is sometimes rather difficult. But now the founders can pay their bills from the revenue generated from caps, T-shirts and trousers; Rumag is a profitable company. Currently, the company is busy with international plans for expansion. Because they earn nothing from the quotes and at some point, those will become irritating.” (Gabeler, 2015).
In other words: in the relationship economy it is possible to develop a business on the basis of a large network of potential customers and fans. By becoming relevant in their lives, with interesting content. Rumag proved that you do not need to come up with a product before you are able to start a company. For instance, first consider how you can create a large, online, following.
Rumag’s path also applies to Kakhiel. Kakhiel’s style is recognisable for the standard (stock) photos that are provided with funny speech bubbles — where the entire image is given a completely different context. A serious discussion at the kitchen table between family members derails entirely through a comment about the Tinder behaviour of one of the toddlers. Where Kakhiel adopts a similar, mysterious disguise as Daft Punk did. However, the attempt for anonymity did not succeed, just as the identity of graffiti artist Banksy was ultimately revealed.
Kakhiel actively developed its digital following and therefore launched an app. Not from a commercial point of view, actually. “The app is free and contains images that I post on Facebook. This app gets increased functions: a video section and a function where you can create your own Kakhiel image where you can stick my speech bubbles on your own photos. And a push notification will be delivered when I post an image, where you will hear the sound of a goat.”, says Kakhiel.
This allows Kakhiel to focus even more on contact with their followers. The person who devised Kakhiel was able to quit his job (at an advertising agency) because he was able to create a revenue model around his many followers. He also understands that maintaining relationships with (potential) customers or fans is ultimately the most important ingredient for a healthy operating capital.
Inspiration for companies
Kakhiel and Rumag prove that you can enter a market or launch a product, without actually having to make distinctive products. For example, Rumag shirts are no more attractive than other brands. What is distinctive about both initiatives, is that they can count on a large online following. That relationship can be monetised, which leads to the growth of the operating capital or digital assets.
Does this mean that Rumag and Kakhiel can also offer insurances, for example? Time will tell. You can expect that there are certain limits to this law — for example, we only purchase certain products from companies that we trust with our privacy.
In any case, the success of both companies proves a principle: the relationship with fans and followers is of paramount importance for companies in the relationship economy. Therefore, ask yourself today if you already have a content strategy. Whether you have a digital heartbeat. Whether your digital assets are secured. Whether you focus on the connection with potential fans or customers. If that is not the case, there’s much work ahead!
- This post is a pre-read of Part 3 — Chapter 7 of my new book ‘Digital Assets’ the translation of the Dutch publication ‘Digitaal Vermogen’.
- Also read the publication ‘EDM and the Digital Domain’