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Craft communications for participation

June 1, 2009

Over at Eyecube, Rick is wondering about the term social media. I’ve wondered whether we’ve created a bubble using the term social media because some people talk about it as if it’s magic, when it’s simply an arm of marketing.

Okay, not simply, but that’s only because things have been made to sound more complicated than they really are in this age of engagement, conversations, and strategies for building a groundswell.

Which sounds swell, but really is the goal of all marketing.

So instead of social media, or earned media, or interactive, or whatever title you want to put on this new world where people can share stuff, I say call it what it is: participation.

This blog is called People Like to Share because I think people like to share. They like to share content, tips, deals, jokes and stories. If one, or all of these things are part of your communications strategy, then there’s no reason people won’t share your content, tips, deals, jokes or stories. Well, actually there are.

First, you only deliver said content, tips, deals, jokes or stories on platforms that are unshareable (broadcast, print, billboard, your standard Paid Media outlets).

Second; your content, tips, deals, jokes or stories aren’t that shareable.

To solve the second part, you need to understand the people who will share. You need to understand the motivation behind sharing. Are they being generous by sharing deals? Are they being helpful by sharing tips? Are they being fun by sharing jokes?

But it’s more than that. We should be designing every communication for participation. The goal with a communication might be: in what way will people be able to participate?

Blogs, Twitter, Facebook, those things we call “social media” have simple metrics for participation. They are platforms built on the notion that people will share. But in the marketplace of content, only the stuff that meets a certain need will be shared. True, if you make it easier to share content (think social media buttons on your browser), then the cost of doing it comes way down. But still, there needs to be something about the content that makes it worth participating in.

These day, things are obviously different, and we’re all working on a definition for that difference. But I think it’s simple: consumers can participate in an unprecedented way. They can review, comment, share, disparage, or celebrate a brand.

So marketers need to craft communications that encourage the participation that will work best. And here’s the best part: the place that has the least amount of silos has a head-start.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. incolas permalink
    June 3, 2009 11:03 am

    least amount of silos? what do you mean?

  2. June 3, 2009 12:52 pm

    A silo is when a client has one agency for Interactive, one for Brand, one for Direct. In this age of web 2.0, where things are more open, silos will impact participation because try as one might, the message will be fractured.


  1. Shared Media v. Social Media: A variety of viewpoints « eyecube

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