How do we get people talking and make our products and ideas catch on? One way is to mint social currency.
In his book, Contagious, Jonah Berger outlines the value of social currency for creating word of mouth and increasing the buzz amongst peers, which incentivises them to share with others the details of a brand’s product or service.
The feeling of exclusivity, knowing about something before another, and being a part of something selective or restrictive is the key to getting a person to talk. The urge to reveal a secret can be all too appealing.
Brands and businesses should leverage this insight and, when coming up with a marketing strategy, get in to the mind of their consumer. Understanding their consumer, on a social level, will heighten the connection between them and the brand, increasing appeal and inviting organic promotion of their product or service by the consumer.
As Amy Jo Martin said at Inc’s 2014 Growth Conference, “people connect to humans – not logos”. If a brand can humanise then it has the ability to monetise via the form of social communication. If a brand has the ability to monetise via the form of social communication, then a brand has the ability to gain trust amongst its consumers; and if a brand has the ability to gain trust, it has the ability to gain advocates. Finding a brand advocate is the golden ticket.
When a brand has advocates, it has loyal customers, and it is these customers who will spread the word and pass on recommendations about a product or service. As we all know, a recommendation passed between a friend or family member is by far the most effective form of advertisement and instead of focusing solely on traditional forms of advertising, brands should step back and realise the power of word of mouth and the impact that human-to-human exchange can have for the spread of a company’s message.
Social currency in this instance is most valuable because it’s a win-win situation for both brand and consumer. It’s a way for a brand to thank consumers for their support by gifting them the product or service they advocate, in exchange for the consumer posting a social share across social media, spreading the word and creating buzz about the brand.
One brand which has adopted this method of marketing in recent weeks is Ben & Jerry’s in the United States. Their Core Tour 2014 promotion sees the brand dishing out free samples of their new Core flavours, all summer long, all in exchange for a Tweet. Consumers were invited to tweet at the Ben & Jerry’s truck account and to tell them where they want the truck to stop.
Through social currency, Ben & Jerry’s create hype and buzz amongst their fans. By connecting with consumers in real time the brand is seen as human and ‘real’ – the locations visited are those personally requested and this element of exclusivity is the key driver for the campaign. After all, being a part of something selective or restrictive gets people talking…and who doesn’t want a scoop of delicious ice cream on a hot summer’s day!