By: Steve Goldner | @SocialSteve | Senior Director, Social Media
Social by Design … not a new buzz phrase but, rather, a fresh business imperative.
For years I have been professing that social media is not a tactic but, rather, has to be a way of life for brands. It is not about putting up a Facebook page and a Twitter feed and posting away. Social media must be at the core of a marketing strategy. Yeah, I know … you’ll think someone named “SocialSteve” is likely to say that … how self-serving of me. But wait a minute and hear me out.
The most powerful call to action a marketer could hope for is to have one friend, one colleague, one family member refer to another a suggested product or service. The recommendation comes from an objective source, a trusted source. Let’s face it: an ad is a recommendation from a most subjective source.
Social by Design means putting a brand in the hands of your target audience to produce organic sharing and word of mouth. Social by Design yields brand amplification. Maybe the one brand that understands this most of all is Coca Cola. As Coke has an objective to double their business it looks at programs that are Social by Design. As Coke states it, it is moving from creative excellence to content excellence. Coke calls its content strategy “liquid content,” and looks for its target audience to be the source of brand proliferation.
This video is a must see as it crystallizes what is meant by having a strategy that is Social by Design.
Part 2 is follows:
Social by Design is much deeper than brand advertisements. It is not about running the most creative Super Bowl ad that millions of viewers see once. It is about exponential amplification of brand content.
I’m not talking about advertorial amplified brand content. Ads are rarely passed on from people to people. Value information, entertaining content — that is what is passed on. And brands can certainly be part of this mix. They need to think like publishers and be comfortable placing content generation in the hands of their audience as well. User generated content (UGC) programs not only provoke calls to action but give participants incentives to have others view content and engage.
Social by design produces crowdsourcing in an organic way. It takes time but builds strong momentum.
Recently, Visa touted its new “Social by Design” program built around its sponsorship of the upcoming Summer Olympic Games. This is the first time that VISA has built out the campaign from a social strategy. The company emphasizes that it’s not an experiment but a sign of things to come. Kevin Burke, global CMO for core products at Visa, asked, rhetorically, in AdAge, “Will every campaign be social by design? There’s a very good chance of that. But definitely every program will incorporate a social strategy and that’s always a question we’ll ask.”
When discussing Social by Design, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Facebook in the discussion. From my search on the topic, it is putting out the most material on the topic. Facebook references three elements of social design: Identity, Conversation and Community. Community refers to the people we know and trust and who help us make decisions. Conversation refers to the various interactions we have with our communities. Identity refers to our own sense of self and how we are seen by our communities.
While I agree with this delineation, I find Facebook’s explanation biased to a Facebook property. (You can read Facebook’s full explanation here.) Facebook is one important piece of social exchanges, but it is far from the only sharing platform.
Brands need to recognize that one platform does not define execution of a social design. People have numerous social identities on a multitude of platforms. They listen and engage in numerous ways (both online and off). The community (or people that help them make decisions as Facebook puts it) are clearly much wider than solely Facebook friends.
Social by Design means that the strategy starts with social thinking. It is not an afterthought. Here is how one should go about Social by Design:
- Customer insights — Target market wants, needs, interest, behaviors, influence sphere, purchase path and digital usage patterns.
- Thematic brainstorming — What are the topics that will attract your target audience and likely activate them?
- Motivation strategy — How will you get your target audience to get involved and engage?
- Proliferation plan — How will the content (brand, UGC and earned media) flow exponentially?
The Social by Design approach is heavily weighted towards a brand’s customers — much more so about them than your brand. Social by Design emphasizes what I call “associated marketing.” Marketers need to look at how their brand is associated with something that is very important to their target audience. Brands that get associated marketing right consistently reinforce what is important to their audience as opposed to talking about themselves.
Once you start on the Social by Design path as suggested in the four steps above, then you can bolt on your existing marketing approach and plans as a next step. But start by being Social by Design.