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“The Science of Social. Beyond Hype, Likes & Followers, by Dr. Michael Wu is a must-read for any marketer. For me, reading the book meant getting to grips with the concept of a “brand nation”. The concept itself is not explained as such, but the book provides in-depth insight into the science of building a social community that extends beyond the average marketer’s mindset where consumers can be grouped in neat and tidy segments based on demographics, psychographics, or technographics. This is not global branding, this is universal branding based on our core needs and desires as human beings.
A social media strategy is not about being there, Michael Wu says, but, brace yourself for this insight, about socializing, and building strong relationships in an economy that competes for customer attention. As businesses shift from sales-driven marketing to a more subscription based economy, your ability to cultivate relationships and grow as a reliable, trustworthy organization becomes a basic survival skill. So it’s not about pushing out messages in an old media way, but about engaging your customers with relevant information and actions that fit into your community culture and context. This will help you win in our Attention Economy.
Social media strategy
When adapting a social media strategy, companies should think of themselves as good hosts: a good host brings something amazing on the table, facilitates interesting ongoing conversation, and listens more than talks. In short, you need to be relevant and start socializing.
By now, you probably wonder how to get social with hundreds or maybe even thousands of people. Don’t worry, this challenge can be solved: the trick is to identify and cultivate superfans. They are your volunteers that will help your company reach out to, and influence others, create content, answer questions, etcetera, etc, or in other words, make your “going social” work. Wu provides astonishing examples of superfans’ efforts for companies such as Logitech, Blackberry, HP, Future Shop, Sephora, and giffgaff.
Superfans have influence but they need your community as an audience to do their thing. Your social media marketer’s job is to get your community ready to receive and inspire them. A well-designed community is built on peer-to-peer relationships and conversations that prolong and foster superfan’s messages. “You want the most useful messages to stick around longer and rise to the top. You want the most trustworthy, reputable product experts and ideators, advocates, and evangelists – your superfans- to find their contributions not only acknowledged, but highlighted and rewarded”, Wu says.
Central to the whole project of rallying a brand nation is understanding exactly what motivates customers. What you’re trying to inspire is something of lasting, mutual value, like a relationship, a knowledge base, or ideas that get built into products. This can be done by using game attributes to drive game-like behavior in a non-game like context, or “gamification”. Gamification is what you need to drive customers’ initial actions, and keep them loyal in the future.
A community functions best on merit
When setting up a game-like strategy, it’s crucial to understand that your community functions best on merit. All customers can and should play a part in the larger goals of the company, even if it’s just a small part. “But people care, they care a lot, when you recognize their contributions”, Wu says. The long term goal is to engage individuals with their intrinsic motivators to create something of long-term value to them and value to you. That’s what keeps them coming back.”