Old School, New Media

by Eric Harr on January 9, 2014

A Book Every Brand Manager Should Read

“I have found that among its other benefits, giving liberates the soul of the giver.”

-Maya Angelou

IT IS SAID that when someone gives you something of perceived value, you immediately feel a desire to give something back. When my wife, Alexandra, is cleaning the house, I feel an immediate desire to get in there and start scrubbing.

One our agency’s clients once asked: “I noticed you are Tweeting content that has nothing to do with driving sales. How does that help our bottom line?” It was a valid question. We were posting “how-to content” in order to generate discussion and endear the community to the brand. The client was paying us a lot of money and wanted to know why we were Tweeting content that did not directly drive their bottom line.

Answer: It was—by engaging the Law of Reciprocity.

We are in the midst of a “thank you economy.” When you genuinely help people live better lives, they will be inspired to return the favor. It may take a minute, a month or six months, but most people will reciprocate. And when they do, it can have big impact on your bottom line.

What most brands don’t understand is this: why would a person engage with your organization in social media? Why would they follow you? To be marketed to? To be sold? No and no. They get enough interruption marketing in their lives. Social media was created as a very refuge away from the sales-driven bacchanalia that has fueled corporate marketing for seven decades. They’re stuck in well-grooved take tracks, when they should be grooving the giving!

The brands that serve up a steady buffet of relevant, useful and sumptuous content, inspire people to dine–and to engage with them. The socially-savvy brands nurture the relationship. They give. They bring old school to new media. They might elegantly weave in the periodic product offer, but they will have built sufficient social capital; their community won’t mind the promotion.

Let’s say you have a company in the travel & hospitality industry. If you put out entertaining and informative content about “how to pack” or “how to stay safe overseas,” for example, you will earn people’s trust. You might win their hearts. You may even inspire them to share your brand or even to write a blog post about you, which is word-of-mouth marketing, the Holy Grail of Branding.

Your brand strategy should be to give and deliver value that is so compelling, it inspires people to pass it on. Because never before have they been more empowered to do just that.

I like to say that the magic isn’t in the Tweet; it’s in the retweet. If you’re wondering what to post in social media, go with “share-worthy content.” Just ask yourself: “Would I share this with my friends and family?” That’s a good litmus test for deciding what to post.

As a brand, bring old school to new media. Move from the take-mindset to the give-mindset.

Your company, and your life, will be better for it.

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