Where is the WOW in Social Media?

I often reflect on the recent activities when writing my weekend column. This past week is no exception. I was asked an interesting question that really made me think. Someone requested that I send them some examples in digital that I thought were “wow implementations.”

So I gave this much thought and I realized I am really not wowed by anything, yet, as I think the opportunities significantly overshadow accomplishments in the digital space. That said, from my perspective, the wow factor for a brand would be:

a) demonstrating their ability to tell their story in a most compelling way,
b) setting the tone for their position, and
c) having their audience respond strongly, positively, and passionately.

Yes, I think there are events where this has been done. (Old Spice with video, Jimmy Choo with LBS, and others) But brand building, marketing and social media needs to be continuous as opposed to a campaign – that’s success! With this in mind, I’ll point to three components that together could create “wow.”

1) Telling a great story.
I was really blown away (no exaggeration) when I saw this presentation by Sarah Kay at TED. She is an amazing poet, spoken word performer, and human being. In her 18 minute presentation (highly suggest you watch it all!), I am not only touched and moved by her poetic grace and prowess, but also by her approach and recommendations for telling a great story. She is not a marketer, but all marketers should listen and be reminded of the simple human-side of storytelling.

2) Connecting, Influencing, and Growing Your Audience.
I think Ford has done an excellent job with audience development. The connections and communication they establish happen well before product launch. One of the keys to their success was the integration of owned, earned, and paid media. I believe that integration is imperative. I wrote an article on the topic after seeing a presentation at Social Media Week a few months ago. (See “Integrating Owned Media, Earned Media, and Paid Media.”) But I think this can be taken one step further and that takes us to the next component.

3) Activating your audience.
To be a “people’s brand” you have to unleash and activate your audience. Let them take the brand position and express it … Have them create content, because after all, the consumers are controlling the communication whether we like it or not due to social platforms. For brands, digital marketing must move from impressions to expressions. Wendy Clark (from Coca-Cola) shows some great examples in her recent presentation at Ad Age. Fast forward to 15:43 into the presentation watch until 19:00. Brands must enable and incentivize UGC (user generated content). One of the things I have been working on to enable customer creation of content is the newly soft launched RecThis which is an iPhone video app you can download for free. We have not done our marketing push yet and have just done a soft launch of the app. It is available on iTunes for free. (Full disclosure – yes this is a shameless plug. I work for HFM US and I am part of the innovation team working on this project.)
The wow is not about cool social tools – it is about execution. I think most companies are afraid to create programs that promote an audience to express and share their creativity in relationship to the brand. They believe they are losing control of their brand. To them, I would say, Wake up and smell the coffee. It is happening anyway. Your company is not a dictatorship government that can stop the will of the people to express themselves. Help unleash the positive sentiment and creativity for your brand.

Make It Happen!
Social Steve

PS – What are some examples you have seen where brands showcase expressions from their audience?



Filed under brand marketing, brand reputation, brands, digital media, marketing, owned-earned-paid media, social media, social media marketing, Social Steve, socialmedia, SocialSteve, UGC

8 responses to “Where is the WOW in Social Media?

  1. Jan

    This is a great posting. I believe Social Media does WOW for brands that let their consumers’ voices (and written words) become a part of their communication and DNA. It may not be an apparent WOW to us marketers, but from the customer’s perspective, the excitement he feels when he sees himself as an advocate and advisor for his favorite brand… now that’s the WOW that truly COUNTS.
    I will be reposting your quote, for you say it better than I ever could – “Your company is not a dictatorship government that can stop the will of the people to express themselves. Help unleash the positive sentiment and creativity for your brand.” Bravo!

  2. Hi Jan,

    Thanks for your comments and input. Spread the word … all must realize “Your company is not a dictatorship government that can stop the will of the people to express themselves. Help unleash the positive sentiment and creativity for your brand.” It is in marketers hands to take the leadership and take appropriate and winning steps.


  3. Cecilia

    I absolutely loved the Sarah Kay TED talk! Thanks for sharing it

  4. The term to “Activate” your audience sounds so cool and true. Many businesses have a sleeping audience where they fail to make things happen. It simply stopped after clicking on the “Like” or “Follow” button. #3 really drove the point home. Am gonna share this post!

  5. Kelly Lieberman

    LOVED this! I am constantly reminding myself that I am a part of this relationship between the brand and their audience – I am a full participant in a committed relationship. I need to listen and offer solutions. Thanks for the great blog!

    And Sarah Kay is completely AMAZING! just brilliant! I ‘found’ her some time ago and have ‘shared’ her with everyone! thanks for bringing her to an even broader audience:)

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