To be human is to be social. When Aristotle described humans as social animals a couple of millennia ago, he practically wrote Facebook’s business strategy without the technology bit. Time and circumstance converged when the man, Zuckerberg, technology and an unmet need in society came together and conjugated this massive social networking platform.
In the days of the great philosophers, you had to do something meaningful for mankind as a whole in order to gain widespread attention. You had to invent writing, or conquer Europe and Asia together, or maybe lead the 12 Disciples in order to get your name on every lip. Today all you have to do is play video games all day and share it on YouTube to get 60 million subscribers.
Aristotle is turning in his grave, not just because watching people playing video games adds nothing to the sum total of human knowledge, but also because that figure accounts for half the worlds population in his time. If that’s how they chose to spend their days, our forefathers would have starved to death and it would’ve been ‘game over’ for the human race.
There is a reason, however, why we dominate life on this planet, why we are at the top of the food chain. It is because we are social and our power is deeply rooted in our ability to gain strength in numbers and overcome predators and other dangers that befall us.
Within this basic requirement for togetherness, we develop certain values and specific behaviour that is the foundation of a sustainable society and this is where communication, sharing and entertainment come in. These elements form the basis of social networking where we seek out people with familiar backgrounds, interests, and lifestyles that we aspire to, in order to gain personal and group benefits.
It is based on a give-and-take concept, and brands that aim to implement scaleable social media initiatives need to start from a comprehensive understanding of this phenomenon. Social media marketing is less about talking at people, and more about sparking conversations with your audiences, which means that they will spontaneously respond and generate new dialogue within the social media community.
However, the Holy Grail of social media marketing is when individuals begin to have conversations with one another about things that they truly care about in ways that are relevant to the brand. We all have a range of interests from those that we are passionate about to those that we casual about; those that we engage in frequently and others occasionally. The trick is to know what occupies peoples minds most of the time and what they are eager and prepared to talk to others about.
Would the college girl who wants to step out like a superstar for the graduation party post a question about hair extensions on her time line? She would only do so if she has confidence that she will receive useful and credible information from her family and friends. The relevant hair product company can establish an environment where people are free to seek and share advice on the subject, because deep down we all want to help one another — it is part of what makes us human.
Brands can stay focused by measuring this online interaction between people as well as the frequency of user-generated content as a factor of success.