Generating a Social Currency in a Social Media Jungle
Generating social currency is one of the most important investments an organisation can make to their social media strategy. In today’s ‘social media jungle’ it is crucial that every business strives to create value to their brand. With this is mind, just how can you make your company standout from the rest by tempting your followers and consumers to share and talk about your product with others?
The aim of this blog is to investigate best practice in generating a positive social currency for an educational brand, ie a university or training company, often stereotyped as being ‘uncool’, ‘boring’, and ‘sensible’ with todays ‘generation Z’ society, a society which dominates a large proportion of social media…
I work for an organisation called Salford Professional Development (SPD), a training and events company which is a subsidiary of the University of Salford. In a sentence, SPD essentially manages professional development (CPD) events and conferences aimed at professionals hoping to advance their careers in a wide range of sectors. A great company to work for, but just how easy is it for us to ensure people follow, like and share their event experiences with their ‘friends’, colleagues and like-minded people, thus maximising brand recognition and ultimately ROI?
In week 8 of my Search and Social Marketing training course, Tom Mason @totmac from Delineo delivered an excellent presentation to the class focusing on social currency and why people share information about themselves and products they wish to be associated with. The key points I took from this were:
People share content online to make themselves look good to their friends and colleagues
- 40% of content that people share is talking about themselves
- The reason for people sharing is to reinforce their identity
- People are vain and want to show off
- Exclusivity – To show that they are different to others
When considering the above influencers, the next and most challenging aspect to consider is knowing how best to communicate and tap into your audiences with an ongoing emphasis on influencing them to share their positive experiences of your brand with their friends and colleagues.
A social marketers dream is for people to follow and like your Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin pages for the shear fact of knowing if they do, they will be engulfed in a community of like-minded people open to networking, sharing best practice, talking about your service, and generally building a buzz and positive feeling around your brand. In reality, it is rare for this to happen without lots of hard work (or money) thrown at it. While reading around this topic, I feel that the below points are the key triggers to encourage social currency and increase brand awareness:
- What story are you going to tell them? What is your USP?
- What content are you going to create to explain this message?
- What value are you going to add?
- What do you want them to do?
In the case of Salford Professional Development, our USP is the high quality service that we consistently deliver on 100+ events a year. Delegate feedback is almost always positive, therefore a good strategy to use throughout would be to not only tell the world about it, but also to influence our customers to tell their world about it. With this in mind, how about:
- Tweet your experience of the event and receive 50% off the next time you sign up with us
- Share a photo on Instagram or Facebook and automatically enter a monthly prize draw for your organisation to receive 7 free conference tickets over the next 12 months
- Tag yourself in the forthcoming event logo and enter a prize draw to win £200
- Set up a google reviews function on your web page, further advertising previous our customers positive (and negative) experiences with the company. If you have faith in your product, this should bring trust and authenticity to potential new customers
A recent article on Buzzfeed stated that what people express through sharing content online is how they’d like to be perceived. Readers want to show that they have an interest in the real human world and that they can provoke a positive emotional reaction. This is crucial for SPD to play on and also demonstrates the importance of capturing the customers positive experience, hopefully resulting in them sharing this with their friends and colleagues. A long standing theory is that word of mouth advertising is the best form of advertising!
In conclusion, the rise of social media has meant a massive increase of information about products and services. But what drives people to promote products and services on social media?
The psychology and tapping into the desire of people to appear knowledgeable, attractive, or just generally appealing to their friends while using your brand and service is crucial. If you adopt a combination of promoting a positive product experience along with a relevant social media platform for your audience to share their experiences, you should be well down the road to generating a healthy social media following, if not a social media empire!