Social discovery may very well be the next big hope for companies trying to reach customers. As it gets harder and harder to get results from advertising, marketeers have to start digging deeper, to understand why we sell products, not just when and what.
One could argue that we’ve reached the threshold for the amount of advertising people can take in. According Yankelovich, a market research firm, a person takes in 5000 advertising messages a day, compared with 2000 per day 30 years ago. The result is that consumers are getting skilled at blocking out advertising. And rightly so, I might add. It’s a fair reaction to the amount of noise that’s been pushed at them for decades.
The consequence is that, increasingly so, there are no short cuts. Companies are simply forced to build products good enough that people buy them repeatedly and, even better, share them with their friends. Social discovery is the internet’s natural way to facilitate this. If we see a product recommended by someone we trust, we’re more likely to be interested in that that product as well. This is of course because we’re more likely to trust it. And the more we trust it, the more likely we are to buy it.
People probably have to come across your product several times, perhaps from several people before they consider buying it. It’s also very likely people will first save it somewhere, like Pinterest, Evernote or even my own Everplaces while they consider. But ultimately, the fastest way for people to trust anything is having it referred from people we already trust.
What’s new here, is as that we finally have the platforms that enable effective social discovery on a vast scale. Platforms like Facebook and Pinterest are perfect for spread via social discovery. Many brands see this opportunity, but few understand how to take advantage of it. This is because we’re entering another era of advertising. This area is not about bought impressions, it’s about getting people to share.
So we need to understand why people share things. One of the main reasons people share is something is funny/cool/clever. That is it strikes a chord with how they’d like to be perceived. Our online identities represent the self-image we’re trying to portray to the world. Therefore people only share what they’d personally like to be identified with. For example, this could be clever or inspiring quotes or images people want that share. The kind of images Nike uses for their “Just Do It” campaigns spring to mind because people aspire to be like the people in the images. Funny campaigns are also in this category.
Another reason to share is if it feels genuinely helpful. Carolyn Everson, VP Global Marketing for Facebook, says people share “to make the lives of others easier” and that “people innately want to help each other”. This explain why good causes like charities and tools, such as mortgage calculators, are among the most shared and Liked.
What doesn’t work, is short cuts such as competitions. When it’s obvious that the motivation for sharing is to win something the receiver detracts that from the genuineness of the recommendation.
Truth is, there is really no short cut. We have to get the why back into the stories we tell. We have to understand why people should care and then start communicating with deeply engaging and socially sharable stories.